Northern Alberta: Beyond Blood & Oil


It’s approaching a year since returning from Northern Alberta, reflecting back to what impressed me the most about the province was the sheer vast amount of open space and land. There are no shortages of socio-economic challenges in the region but that is the case anywhere cities are not immune to homelessness, drug abuse and people living in shelters. I can’t help but smile reflecting on how great the experience was to be around so many honest and hardworking people, raising families, living life and doing whatever it takes to survive and thrive specially in what can be at times an unforgiving landscape. I had an old Truck, affectionately named “Old Red”, my dog, love a goal and purpose. This July 2016 will be the anniversary date and I’ll be eligible to complete my Red Seal had I gone the same route in Ontario it wouldn’t be possible until maybe July 2019. 


Photo: Taken outside Reed Energy work shop,working as a safety watch because it was a confined space, the welder was fixing a flange inside the tank, pictured in the back and Old Red, 96 Single Cab Ford F-150 in the front.

It wasn’t until his passing that I learned why my grandfathers nickname as a young man was “Hank”, his friends called him that because of his secret love of Country Music, Hank Williams was  a legend for many I don’t know his music but he’s in the Hall of Fame for a reason I suppose. Now don’t get my wrong, my grandfather loved good Soul, R&B, Blues and Jazz grew up with it, he also ran a night club that played it all the time however he did have a soft spot for country tunes. As a kid sitting in the passenger side of his car I can recall when News Talk Radio wasn’t playing  he would be humming the melody to a country song., maybe it was at that time my affection and soft spot for the slow country lifestyle began. Although camping and cottaging was something I enjoyed, this type of country living of the north was blue collar hardworking and resonated with me and many others  across Canada, and really throughout the world.    Continue reading

Understanding SAGD Technology

Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) sagd

Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD; “Sag-D”) is an Enhanced oil recovery technology for producing heavy crude oil and bitumen. It is an advanced form of steam stimulation in which a pair of horizontal wellsare drilled into the oil reservoir, one a few metres above the other. High pressure steam is continuously injected into the upper wellbore to heat the oil and reduce its viscosity, causing the heated oil to drain into the lower wellbore, where it is pumped out. Dr. Roger Butler, engineer at Imperial Oil from 1955 to 1982, invented the steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) in the 1970s. Butler “developed the concept of using horizontal pairs of wells and injected steam to develop certain deposits of bitumen considered too deep for mining.”[1][2] In 1983 Butler became director of technical programs for the Alberta Oil Sands Technology and Research Authority (AOSTRA),[1][3] a crown corporation created by Premier Lougheed to promote new technologies for oil sands and heavy crude oil production. AOSTRA quickly supported SAGD as a promising innovation in oil sands extraction technology.[2]   – Via Wikipedia 


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Western Mission Complete


Photo Credits: Wikipedia

Today is Canada Day, I feel it is very appropriate to deliver this post on the Nations birthday, I feel more nationalistic than ever before. Like many of my peers and friends who live and work in the major urban centers of our country like Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Vancouver and Halifax the focus today is all about uniting under one flag, one country, and one land. It is a time when provincial rivirialies and regionalism is set aside and we celebrate the amazing opportunities, freedom and beauty our country has to offer the world, we are an example of how modern civil society should function,where democracy and liberty reign as the core values of who we are as a people, “True North Strong and Free!”

I left Ottawa, Ontario roughly  a year ago today. I went to discover and understand the depths of the Canadian Energy sector, a business move that turned extremely personal. My work in the office led me into the field, a strategic and rational decision considering the reality of the economic landscape of Ontario. I wanted to know what was so special about Alberta it was a tremendously powerful learning opportunity and I took advantage with the support of my friends, family and loved ones. Living in the Nation’s Capital you really start to feel a sense of Nationalism, and although we are a Civic Nation unlike our American cousins to the south, I wanted to know more about Canada’s deep wealth of energy that was stored beneath the ground, I knew that if I was going to truly become an expert on the topic I should have the necessary credentials, experience, and knowledge to truly understand what is going on and that is why I choose the Trade of Pipefitting, a trade that ranked a respectable 23 out of 50 top jobs in Canada according to Canadian Business Magazine 2013 survey.  I had simple questions such as; are the “Oil Sands” developments in Fort McMurray an evil place of greed, deceit and environmental destruction? Or a wonder of human ingenuity, engineering, and scientific discovery?  The answer is personal depending on your cultural learned values and or perspective but having been on the ground I feel Canada should be extremely proud of it’s responsible energy development. The opportunities that will be available for individuals who take personal responsibility for their own welfare and diversify their labour skill set to enhance their standard of living especially over the next 30 years is incredible.  Alberta is expected to grow from a province of 4M today into 7M+ by 2050, that is still less than the population of the Greater Toronto Area alone, however an incredible influx of people nonetheless which will drive further growth and business in many different sectors.   Continue reading