May 18, 2014 0 Comments Experience Working in Alberta's Oilfield

Short-term Goals of an Oil Patch Worker in the City- One month update

Screen Shot 2014-05-17 at 6.39.41 PMIt’s now been roughly 1 1/2 months since I left the oil patch on the Service Rigs to find a construction role in Edmonton to buy myself time to figure things out. Money/work aside, Edmonton is more pleasant, as the convenience of the city makes it easier to get things I need, and there are more people to meet.

Approximately a month ago, as seen on my previous entry, I made some short-term goals. One thing I learned in life is that you always got to plan ahead so you don’t waste too much time and money. Now that a month has passed, it’s time to reflect on my progress (though limited, lol).


(1) Finish my Class 1 License, or at least my Class 3

Talking to people, and based on personal logical judgment, I decided that it was better to go directly to my Class 1 rather than waste time with only the Class 3. I am glad I made that choice.

I contacted multiple driving schools, and discovered that my major obstacle was that many of them are booked heavily and do not offer training for weeks to a month later. Eventually I found an arrangement with only a one week wait. I took my evaluation lesson yesterday evening, and was told that I picked up shifting very quickly on the 8-speed transmission and hence only need approx. 10 hours more training to be ready- possibly less. This was a tremendous relief, as I was financially not very prepared to fork out the typical $3000+ cost for training. However, I realized that I’m already $260 in and must continue to pay close attention to learn fast so be as much under those 10 hours as possible, as the going rate of $130/hr adds up very quickly.

Shifting the truck transmission can be confusing at first. Unlike a car, you’re required to double clutch- press down the clutch once to shift into neutral, and another press to get into gear. The release point is “short”- you have to be precise and let out the clutch slowly yet carefully at that point. It is also not as soft as many clutch pedals- rather it is hard like the ones on sportier german cars. Luckily it felt almost identical to my BMW 328i, so it was not difficult for me to catch on.

The gears are very short, so you will be shifting very heavily. In town to get up to speed you’ll be shifting all the way to fifth-sixth to cruise comfortably at a moderate RPM.

To get into the higher gears, for the 8-speed after Gear 4, there is a button to press down, and then the shifter is pushed into where first gear was originally to get into fifth. The reverse is true to downshift from 5-4.

Upshifting isn’t too bad, but downshifting is a challenge at first as you must increase RPM by 300 to get into the next lowest gear. Getting to that RPM can be hard because the gas pedal is sensitive- it is easy to over/under rev and hard to “catch” the +300, and physically you will be unable to shift into gear if you miss the RPM you’re to shift into.

To tow a large trailer requires greater attention to speed, following distance, and turning radius. After getting used to those it isn’t too bad, though it can be a bit scary in the city. I already towed service rig equipment in the past so I don’t imagine this to be too much of an issue.

Overall I’m hoping that this license won’t cost more than $1000-1500. Originally I was hoping to stay under $1000, but it looks unrealistic at this point. At least within this range it will cost me less than one paycheque and hence be able to earn it back in a little less than 2 weeks.

Coincidently I made a new connection in a restaurant for a Class 1 driving gig up in Fort McKay. He said he rarely offered the reference and was giving it to me because he liked my attitude. I assume so because there are few other young people willing to work for long hours away from home, and to have the discipline to save the thousands of dollars to acquire the license. I also am a guy that is willing to work. If you talk to me and know me well, you would know that that is usually what is on my mind. I am hoping that this leads to something as for someone who just turned 21, that money is like gold for my investing purposes and help a young dude a lot. Even if not, the going rate for a Class 1 driver is easily $30+/hour up north so it is still a significant improvement from being just a rig hand/summer construction worker! I’d expect to approximately double my current income, triple if I find an arrangement with many hours.


(2) Re-open my trading account

I ended up selecting TD Waterhouse, as they were quick to make me a TFSA to trade stocks with a $9.99/trade flat rate. I believe the lower rate was around $7/trade if one is to do 150+ trades/quarter. There was also no minimum trade/quarter or balance requirement, so I did not have to worry about only having about $5000 to start.

Unfortunately the TD application on the iPhone is glitchy and also logs you out as soon as you exit it. I don’t day trade (though I wish I could), so this ended up to be a minor annoyance. Also, the account does not show the most up-to-date equity amount and takes about a day to update, but again I am looking to hold onto my holdings for longer than a few days so this is not too much of a concern.


(3) Find suitable investments

I bought into BSX (Belo Sun Mining) as it was dumped to an unnatural low and made some quick and sustained gains. One institution held a very significant amount of shares and sold them, causing panic selling and driving it down to as low as .18/share. Unfortunately I hesitated and took me a few minutes to realize that this was an unnatural decline, though I was able to catch it at .195 and up it went back to .22. It has been fluctuating between .2 – .22 ever since, but I am not too concerned as I intended to hold this one rather than speculate.

As for couple of my others, I made a 20% gain on another, but unfortunately I discovered it was eventually manipulated to artificially remain at the original price, and there was a mass oil and gas stock selloff coincidently to damp demand. For my other holdings, mining took a bit of a hit from poor performance at last week’s end, but not too concerned.

I realize my weakness is that I need my few thousand soon, and probably can only hold these stocks for the intermediate term rather than the long. Hence why I am taking more risk than I feel I should. The limited amount of cash I have at my disposal also makes it redundant to play with bigger stocks as I’d just get eaten by the trading commissions.


(4) Begin the CFA

Haven’t done it yet, as my cash is limited at this time to pay for the exam fee. I plan to begin when I’ve found a new job with a better schedule and pay, which is currently subject to having my Class 1 completed. If I was on at least a 14/7, then I could have a whole week off at a time to study.I have my doubts about the practicality of this graduate program as it seems like finding a trade is much safer, but I plan to do both.


(5) Finish furnishing my room

So far the only piece of furniture I’ve purchased is a dresser to store my clothes, and with one bottom drawer section to store my misc. items. I wanted to get a bed for a while, but my financial situation is a bit tight at the time to warrant spending the hundreds of dollars. For now I just use the box and mattress arrangement.


(6) Skin surgery consultation

I still haven’t found the time to find a specialist yet, and if I do the appointment would probably be on a weekday, causing me to lose money from taking time off work. Financially I do not think I am ready to make either move anyways at this stage.


(7) Proper Financial and Interpersonal Plan for the Summer

For now, my immediate goal is to finish my Class 1, and then stay here for just a little bit longer at my current job- long enough to get my teeth fixed and tie up some other loose ends, and then off I go to find a higher paying one. I will first contact the connection I made in the restaurant.


 (8) Determine my vehicle situation

I’ve been approved for a BMW 335i, and I’d have to trade my truck in. The catch is the bank wants $8000 down, and that would wipe out nearly all my money at this point. I plan to hold onto my funds a bit longer so that I can move onto the car without clearing my savings.


(9) Finish dieting down

The first signs of abs are showing, but I want to look shredded. Currently I focus on getting adequate protein, minimize carbs, and then let the discipline do the rest!