February 5, 2016 0 Comments Experience Working in Alberta's Oilfield

February; Month 32 in Alberta

Even at previously $1xx/barrel oil, everyday was another uphill battle, only continued from my academic endeavours from UBC in Vancouver- except now instead of a war against the academic elites who threaten to outcompete me and destroy my future aspirations and career goals, now it is a war to fend for myself against the bitter cold and scorching heat, physical and mental wear and tear from working up to 15 hours a day, work politics, financial inconsistencies and threats, and to defend and climb my position on the social ladder as my previous competitors are still out there.

And with $3x/barrel oil, the war is only to intensify. Admist the first phase of the oil crash in January 2015, I really did think it was all over with my layoff and inability to find work for 7 weeks (though it was around Christmas season- a typical slow period). My fortunes reversed and swung violently multiple times throughout 2015- from jealous people trying to make me lose work to being stranded in the mountains-  but through the whole year I managed to get ahead.

My original idea of purchasing a condo back last March continues to be pushed forward due to work inconsistencies and credit problems. Now that much of those issues have been resolved, the only thing that stands in my way is the elapse of my probationary period. However, now maintaining one while maintaining significantly positive cashflow is the new struggle. I’ve done an analysis on multiple properties that can also serve as positive cashflow rentals in the future, and using a $250,000 condo as an example:

Mortgage payment: 1113 w/ 2.59%, 5yr

Condo fees, power, internet, etc.: 400

Tax: 160

Total: 1673

For around that price, one can get a 1 bedroom condo in a prime location, or a 2 on the outskirts in an upscale area. With a 2 bedroom, one room can be rented out, dropping the monthly carrying cost to 1000 – 1100. This would bring my personal monthly expenditure to around $4300. With only my primary job and worst-case scenario of having no work for half the month, I would save only $900/month- 1450 – 1550 with the roommate scenario. And again as I wrote in my previous posts, I require to gain 3-4K/month to be on-schedule with my plans.

Last year I made an offer for a $213,000 2 bedroom new condo on the outskirts. It’s in not as nice of an area, but it is less expensive. If I’m able to find something similar this time around:

Mortgage payment: 949

Condo fee, power, tv, internet: 350

Tax: 138

Total: 1437

I would save about $140-240/month (considering the room would rent for less possibly). Not an amount to write home about, as after correcting some sloppy spending and doing one or two odd moving cash jobs in my spare time would negate that.

In January my expenses rose because of a trip back to Vancouver to visit family, though over the month my cashflow was still positive, albeit only in the hundreds. Not a lot in the grand scheme of things.

Fitness-wise, I discovered that in order to gain weight, I had to consume about 1000 calories of weight gainer right before bedtime- not 600. In November I was 140lb; as of 2 days ago at this time of writing, 164lb (approximately a dozen which was water). I follow a variation of the 5×5 Workout- that is, on one workout, I do 5 sets with 5 reps of squats, bench press, and bent overrow. The next one, I do 5×5 squats, stiff-leg deadlifts, and overhead press. I do those workouts semi-daily, with days in between working on abs (sit-ups, planks).

Work itself isn’t bad- just gets boring after a while. We move various oilfield fluids around the plant and remove such from containments, sumps, lines, and other vessels. Sometimes we have to wash buildings and vessels, which can get messy. Buildings tend to have lots of heat in them, so running from the outside cold into a steaming hot building can get tiring. On previous sites I’ve worked on, our trucks ran 24 hours so there was no winterization of equipment required. At this site, another contractor runs the trucks during the night shift so we shut our trucks off after our shift is over, hence winterization is required and at first was new to me. Winterization is running glycol, washer fluid, or another liquid through hoses, valves, and pumps that does not freeze in very cold temperatures such as -40C overnight. This is done so that the above don’t freeze and become unusable the next day. There is a lot of paperwork on this site to be aware of, so learning it was a significant learning curve at first. The oil company is very particular about how we write our tickets (bills) as well, requiring individual tickets for each area of the plant and individual fluid source names and numbers along with their offloaded locations.

Overall I think the remainder of 2016 will be an interesting year. The continued glut in oil will hamper my earning power. What previously was a venture to the big oil money has become a game of survival and slight advancement. The next big step for me is obviously the condo, then to finish my 1st year electrical schooling, find an employer to give me experience, and to increase my earning power on my days off. These 4 objectives alone should occupy me more than enough and the continued low oil price environment makes achieving them questionable.