Just like maintaining a vehicle, many of the pump jacks and oil wells in southeast Saskatchewan need constant service to continue running. Unlike vehicles, however, they don't have the luxury of being plugged in for an hour before being started up. Many oil well technicians have been braving the coldest temperatures the province has seen to keep energy production up, but the cold has slowed them down.
"It slows down our productivity," says Derek Tamblyn, owner and operator of DMT Oilfield Services. "On an average day, if the guys need to get to three or four locations on a good day, it can possibly cut it to half if we end up with any problems of our own with equipment. Hydraulic systems don't really appreciate cold weather too much."
Productivity in the oil field is slowed down for a few different reasons. For one, the rigs and the equipment itself is cold, and dealing with cold metal parts moving with and against one another must be dealt with a little slower than usual, as well as certain protocol set in place for workers. In the winter, many contractors typically check the units via snowmobile as the roads to a lot of the oil wells are not kept very well.
"When it come to checking wells that are inaccessible by a pickup truck and you need a snow machine to get there, if there was a problem where something broken that needs repairing, (the oil company) they'll call one of the other contractors with a tractor with a blade or a snowblower and open the road to get us access to the unit."
Not only that, but workers also follow Occupational Health and Safety Guidelines to keep their workers warm and safe, and so many workers must take their opportunity to warm up back in the vehicle as well.
"A person's car, the colder it gets, the more problems that arise right, a dead battery in a car is a problem every person deals with in weather like this. Well just upside it to bigger components."