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Layoffs begin in beleaguered oilpatch as companies brace for spending cuts





Canada’s oilfield services sector — a bellwether for the state of the oilpatch — is beginning to see job losses as the impact of steep discounts on Alberta oil ripple through the sector.

Trican Well Service, according to the Financial Post, laid off 70 of its 2,200 employees this week, pointing to an anticipated slowdown in activity next year due to lower energy prices and discounts on Canadian crude.

The news comes amid warnings of job losses across the sector if the oil glut that’s been dragging down Canadian crude prices does not improve soon.

The oilfield services sector is on the front lines of energy development, hired to do the drilling, producing and maintenance of oil and gas wells. They’re also involved in the manufacturing of oilpatch equipment and supplies, such as steel piping. The business and its workers thrive when the oilpatch is busiest.

But with the price of Canadian crude lagging far behind the American standard, spending plans in the industry are now under scrutiny — and those in the oilfield services sector are preparing for bad news.

Pro-pipeline protesters gather and chant slogans outside a venue where Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau was speaking in Calgary on Tuesday. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Murray Mullen, chairman of the Mullen Group, which has about 1,800 staff in its oilfield division, says customers are cancelling projects “left, right and centre.”

Meanwhile, it seems banks and investors are getting anxious about where the industry is headed, he said.

“So all of us that are in executive positions are going, ‘Well, we’ve got no choice but to be defensive, which usually means, you know, I’m going to have to lay off people,” Mullen said.

“We’re trying to not panic, but I can tell you my senses are very, very heightened.” 

When oil prices collapsed in 2014, oilfield services companies were hit hard as activity slowed in the oilpatch and thousands of jobs were shed. 

There have been no reports of similarly deep cuts recently, though the province says it has received notice of seven layoffs of 50 or more people in the energy sector since April 1.

With Canadian oil selling at steep discounts due to a supply glut and production companies re-examining their spending, there’s again worry about what the future holds.

Economist Peter Tertzakian recently warned that if the oil glut isn’t rectified in “the next few weeks,” workers could be slapped with layoffs and the winter drilling season could be lost.

Alberta’s United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney told CBC’s Calgary Eyeopener on Thursday that industry leaders describe the situation as a “five-alarm fire.”

“Companies right now are slashing their capital budgets for the upcoming winter, including their drilling budgets,” Kenney said, “which would massively damage the service sector that exists all throughout Alberta — all these little companies and thousands of employees. We’re looking at a potential wave of layoffs.

Earlier this month, the Petroleum Services Association of Canada (PSAC) predicted a total of 6,600 wells will be drilled in Canada in 2019, down about five per cent from this year. The association said that translates to a year-over-year decrease of up to $1.8 billion in capital spending by exploration and production companies.

Jason Kenney, leader of the United Conservative Party, says he’s been told the industry is facing a “five-alarm fire.” (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press )

PSAC chairman Duncan Au said in an interview this week that the sector is “extremely concerned” by activity levels in the oilpatch and the discounts on Canadian crude.

Like others across the energy sector, Au says the problem is a lack of takeaway capacity — both pipelines and rail — for Canadian oil. This has added to the oil glut, which is weighing heavily on prices.

The situation means some oil and gas companies are not experiencing their normal cash flows and may also be challenged to raise money from investors.

“What that translates to is that our activity levels on the services side is slowing down and we saw that significantly here in November,” Au said.

If firms haven’t already trimmed staff, many would be in the planning process, he said.

Au is also the president of CWC Energy Services, a large service rig company based in Calgary. He said his company has grown over the past four years to a peak of 770 employees earlier this year.

Now, it has under 700 staff.

“You can’t say it was just cut overnight,” Au said. “But that is the number of employees … based on the level of activity that we currently are seeing in our basin.”

Au is going to Ottawa next week to seek government support for a new strategy, led by PSAC, that aims to bolster support for Canada’s energy sector. They want to create a brand that promotes all Canadian energy.

“And that brand for Canadian energy will go beyond oil and natural gas,” Au said. “It’ll go into solar, wind, hydro, nuclear — all of the things that make Canada great in terms of energy.”

Premier Rachel Notley announced Wednesday her government will buy two new unit trains that can transport an additional 120,000 barrels a day. (Matthew Brown/AP Photo)

For weeks, the price of Western Canadian Select (WCS) has been tracking roughly $40 US a barrel less than West Texas Intermediate (WTI). In better times, it might track around $15 below.

Analysts are uncertain exactly how long the situation will last, though some think the price differential will improve in the coming months and normalize by around this time next year.

Premier Rachel Notley announced Wednesday her government will buy two new unit trains that can transport an additional 120,000 barrels a day, increasing the amount of oil being moved by rail in Canada by a third. 


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Real Estate

The cost of renovating your bathroom in Toronto in 2021





Home renovations can be a big task, especially bathroom renovations where you have to work with either an awkwardly shaped space, or one with lots of pipework and very little natural light.

Nonetheless, getting a bathroom renovation by Easy Renovation to change your existing bathroom layout, improve the ambience or add more natural skylights can be worth all the trouble. But determining how much a bathroom renovation would cost is important while setting a budget.

The pandemic has changed a lot of things with social distancing rules, working from home, and for some, being made redundant. Therefore, having a complete grasp of the financial implication of a bathroom innovation is very important.

Owning your dream bathroom can be made a reality and the good thing is, regardless of your financial situation, there are always available options. If you also decide to put up your property for sale in the future, a bathroom upgrade would be a great investment—as it would add significant value to the property. Your bathroom renovation project, like every home renovation, can either be very affordable or extravagant, but one thing is certain, you’re bound to have a more refreshed, stylish and modernistic space.  

Looking through detailed sketches of luxurious and expensive bathrooms can be quite tempting, especially when you’re on a budget. However, your bathroom can be equally transformed into something that looks just as modern, stylish and refreshing but without the heavy price tag.

Conducting a partial bathroom renovation means you only have to change a little part of your existing bathroom rather than tearing it down and starting from scratch. If you intend to carry out this type of bathroom renovation in Toronto, depending on the size of your bathroom, you can spend between $1,000 – $5,000. With a partial bathroom renovation, you can save money by tackling smaller problems that exist in your present bathroom—or you can just upgrade a few of its features.

Partial bathroom renovations are quite affordable and would leave your bathroom feeling new and stylish without being time-consuming or a financial burden—which is important considering the economic impact of the pandemic. Repainting the bathroom walls, replacing the tiles on the floor and in the shower area are examples of partial bathroom renovations which is the cheapest to accomplish.

A more expensive and popular bathroom renovation is the standard 3- or 4-piece renovation. This renovation type involves a lot more services that are not covered by a partial renovation budget. To execute a standard bathroom renovation in Toronto you need a budget of about $10,000 – $15,000.

Unlike with a partial renovation, you would have to make a lot more changes to various elements of your bathroom without the hassle of changing the overall design. You can easily restore your current bathroom into a modernistic and classy space that fits your existing style. Making changes to more aspects of your bathroom is quite easy since there is more room in your budget to accommodate it.

A standard 3- or 4-piece renovation includes everything in a partial renovation plus extras such as revamped baseboards, installing a new bathroom mirror, buying new lights, installing a new vanity, changing the toilet, and buying new shower fixtures.

If you’re one of those looking to make a complete overhaul of your existing bathroom, then the option of a complete bathroom remodel is for you.

Unlike a bathroom renovation, remodelling means a complete change of your current bathroom design and layout for one that is newer and completely unrecognizable. The possibilities when remodelling a bathroom are endless especially when you have a large budget of over $15,000. That way, you can get the opportunity to create the perfect bathroom for yourself.

In addition to all that’s available with a standard bathroom renovation, bathroom remodelling allows you to make bathtub to shower conversion, relocation of plumbing, relocation of the toilet, reframing the bathroom and even relocating the shower.

In conclusion, a bathroom renovation can be a very important upgrade to your home and depending on the features that you decide to include, in addition to the size of your bathroom, this would influence the total cost of the project.

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Real Estate

7 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers In Calgary





Buying a house for the first time can be overwhelming to say the least. If you’re wondering what neighbourhood to go with, what you can afford, or even how to just get started on the process, let us take some stress off your hands! We’ve teamed up with Hopewell Residential to give you 7 tips to ensure the home you end up with is everything you dreamed of.

Hopewell Residential is a five-time Developer of the Year award winner, so their expertise is second-to-none in Calgary and beyond. Who better to learn home-buying tips from than the homebuilders themselves?

Create a checklist of needs & wants

This is a biggie. When you’re buying your very first home, you’ll want to weigh your needs vs. your wants. Ensuring you have what you love in your first home is a big, big deal.

What should you do? Easy. Set up a list of needs and a list of wants, but be pretty strict with yourself, and make sure you take your lifestyle into consideration. With the increase in remote work over the past year, it’s important to keep in mind that a home office or flex room might just be the key to maximizing at home happiness. Especially if you’re thinking you might be expanding your family later on, spare rooms and extra space is key (but more on that later!).

Or for instance, you might need a home in an area with a high walkability score, but you want to be close to certain amenities. Set yourself up with the right level of compromise and the number of homes that actually fit your ‘perfect’ idea will skyrocket.

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Real Estate

‘Don’t give up’: Ottawa Valley realtors share statistics, tips for homebuyers in ‘extreme’ sellers market





The real estate market in the Ottawa Valley can be summed up this way: people from far and wide are in a buying frenzy, but there’s hardly anything to buy at the “store,” and the limited inventory is overpriced.

This “stampede” — as one realtor described it — will affect rural towns as residents grapple with finding affordable housing and agonize over their inability to purchase homes in their price range.

“We are seeing a lack of inventory in all price ranges,” said Laura Keller, a real estate agent from Carleton Place.

Helen Vincent, a Renfrew realtor, said she’s never seen a market like this in her 36 years of practice. “We postpone offers for four to five days in order to get all the buyers,” she said.

Multiple offers — between seven and 10 — became the norm, with cash offers and no conditions, as buyers faced bidding wars. “In Ottawa, they have up to 50 (offers),” she added.

“It’s very stressful. You’re going to get nine (people) ticked off, and one happy. So many people are disappointed,” Vincent said.

Terry Stavenow, an Arnprior realtor for 40 years, said that “the pent-up need took over with inventory going low. It made a stampede on everything that was available.“

“Brand new housing — it’s very much gone. Several building developers are rushing to get inventory. They usually don’t do construction in the winter months,” said Stavenow.

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