January 3, 2016 1 Comment Experience Working in Alberta's Oilfield

2015 Year in Review

Top- Gathering water from a pond for a water truck to load into a drilling rig tank. Bottom- Highway 63 north of Wandering River during the first snowfall in November.

As the story of another year in Alberta comes to a close, it’s time to reflect on the advancements that have been made- both in personal and fiscal development, and also it is a time to outline the outlook for 2016.

The year began with a collapse in oil prices and a layoff- with work already being slow in mid-December, but after New Years I was working again in 3 1/2 weeks. Spring Breakup (seasonal slowdown) came earlier than expected, resulting in a double-whammy for my overall financial picture. In the summer my vehicle breakdown in the mountains caused about a $5000 loss including lost wages, and about another 3000 for a clutch and seatbelt mechanism near the end of the year. Earlier when I had the vehicle in the previous year I was lucky to have no repair bills, but suppose the wear and tear accumulated alltogether, further aggrevated by my unusually long drives.

All those negatives aside, I still was able to increase my net worth by 5-digits- though not nearly as much as I wanted, nevertheless felt good to be in the green admist $3x/barrel oil when others are losing everything they’ve worked for. I’ve acquired many bad spending habits such as impulsive clothing and excessive eating out, so part of my 2016 resolutions is to dramatically cut back on such spending, as the net worth gain in 2015 is only about 33% sufficient to be on-schedule with my long-term goals. My new job in camp should aid in saving, so then the challenge is to dramatically cut back during my days off.

Personal development wise, I’ve made strength and muscle gains, and look much better in the mirror. Overall body weight is up by about 15lb, after conducting one bulk and cut cycle, and halfway into another bulk.

Being stranded in BC in my vehicle made me realize how beautiful of a province it is, how much I’ve missed it ever since I left, and how much harder I must work to be able to acquire a second property as a home here.

I’ve learned a lot about vehicle ownership and maintenance- in particular how it’s not the parts prices to be worried about, but rather the labour- as something like a clutch change can already add up to $1000 because it takes 8-9 hours (according to the mechanic).

I also learned a lot about mortgages through my struggle in getting into home ownership, as illustrated in my previous posts.

The constant work inconsistency has taught me how to hustle. Being able to hustle has kept both my bank balance and motivation high. Many people just go home after being laid off or failing to lift enough weights in the gym. My logic has been always the reverse- the harder things become, the harder I fight. In my exact words to a colleague of mine:

Failure is unacceptable to us. We fight our hardest. If we fuck up and fail, then get up again and retry. Fall again, then get up again. Fuck up too many times, then take a break and fight to succeed next time. Never drop a step back, as life is just like rowing upstream a river… as soon as you stop, you’re going to fall back and never get up there. Repeat until we make it.

Essentially, regardless of the price of oil, my primary motives in life shall never change. It only means I work harder and become slightly more risk averse in certain scenarios.

Edmonton seemed like paradise after living in oil towns with few amenities and people, and back then I often dreamed about having an arrangement that allowed me to work up north and make oil money while I lived in it. In the immediate term that hasn’t changed, but now it’s also to be used as a platform to complete my education, raise investment funds, get a rental property or two, and eventually grow myself towards financial freedom and live in BC once again.

Windermere area of Edmonton often seems like the new McMurray- characterized by expensive housing, vehicles, and the few beautiful women. Such has become a symbolism for economic power and opportunity and despite my past hate for those other young people with rich Mommy and Daddy’s money, somehow I feel myself being drawn back, and somehow at the back of my head I feel my future is here.

I daydream about a Porsche 911 very often, but the goal is to acquire one without denting my future earning power too much. As inspired by 2 conversations with my colleagues, there is an equilibrium between ambition and savings/comfort. Being too comfortable may corrode one’s motivation, but leaving too little in reserve will slow progress too much, in turn risking the reality of never getting into a Ferrari. As a happy medium and a rough prediction, 2 rental properties or another investment equivalency should suffice to fund the Porsche without hurting future earning power too much, or an Audi R8 for that matter.