A new Sanjel has been reborn

And they’re hiring, too

Lloydminster– Like the mythical phoenix, a new Sanjel has been reborn from the previous Sanjel which had gone bankrupt this past spring.

Pipeline Newsspoke to Shane Hooker, president and CEO of Sanjel Energy Services, on Sept. 14 at the Lloydminster Heavy Oil Show. Hooker was there in support of his company’s booth in the outdoor exhibits, where they had several trucks present and were serving up barbecued lunch.

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“Sanjel Energy Services is a new company, born from the purchase of the cementing and acidizing assets of a company formerly known as Sanjel Canada Ltd.,” Hooker explained.

The predecessor company filed for CCAA protection in early April.

“From that point, there was a process where the assets were sold. They were a global company. The assets were sold through a competitive bidding process,” Hooker said. “We were fortunate to be the company that was successful in our bid for the Canadian cementing and acidizing assets.”

The new company’s website lists nine field locations plus headquarters and a technology centre in Calgary. Saskatchewan is serviced by Estevan, Kindersley, Swift Current and Lloydminster.

“Most of Sanjel Energy Services senior management worked for the former company. My involvement with the former company was for a period of over 20 years. In the spring of 2014, I left the old Sanjel to pursue other opportunities. I ended up working for ARC Financial.”

ARC Financial is a private equity firm specializing in oil and gas investment, Hooker said. In the beginning, he was supporting ARC in doing their due diligence work. Eventually he became executive-in-residence, where leaders with the right experience are asked to look for areas, including companies, to place capital, and then go manage those businesses where money has been invested.

“I actually started a company called Wayfinder Corp. They are still an ARC-sponsored company that is transloading natural sand and building a resin-coated proppant facility to service the Hinton-Edson area.

“Because of my history with Sanjel, when the old story was playing out and it was known among investment groups what was going to happen, the leadership at ARC came to me and asked if I would change my focus and try to acquire the cementing and acidizing assets.”

Hooker’s last four years at the previous Sanjel was serving as vice president for the Canadian business unit.

“We’re pleased to have been successful in the purchase of the assets, and to have been able to offer over 200 people jobs with the new company. We kept a variant of the name, because we believe Sanjel has a strong reputation for operational excellence in our space of cementing and acidizing in Canada. We wanted to build on that,” Hooker said.

In a way, the purchase of the assets was like coming home for Hooker, and others. Many of the senior management members had long experience with the former company. “We’re trying to tell our story to ensure that everyone understands that the old company is not the new company. The new company shares a similar name, for brand purposes, but is different in a lot of ways. Our ownership group is completely different. Our focus has changed and we are more streamlined.

“With the new Sanjel Energy Services, everybody gets up with a single purpose every day, to be the best cementing and acidizing company in Canada. We’re service line focused. We’re regionally focused. We want to convey a strong service attitude to our customers and be Canada’s premier energy services company,” Hooker said.

In the transaction, they were able to negotiate the purchase and lease of existing service locations, allowing for continuity.

There are no new builds at their manufacturing facility, as the fleet is currently running around 30 per cent capacity. Hooker pointed out they are one of the few companies that builds its own equipment. Maintaining a certain standard means refurbishment and updates.

Regarding working in the low-oil price environment, Hooker said, “There’s a structural shift that’s going on around cost of business. Companies have to try to find ways to align themselves with the new reality.”

The focus on safety can’t change. He noted, “We’re an operations company. We have to provide services safely and perfectly. Our culture has to reflect that in how we manage risk in the business. Whether you have lots of money or little money to apply to the business, that’s a foundational value that can’t change.”

Efficiency and doing things that make sense are key, not cutting safety.

On the cementing side of the business, there are two parts. The primary side is led by the drill bit, and then there is the remedial side, dealing with old wells that need service work done on them or cementing for abandonment. The company is trying to balance between the two.

“By the way, we’re still hiring. We’re actually growing in this market. We’re always looking for good people. Regionally, things are different, be it Estevan, Swift Current, or wherever, but we’re hiring right now,” Hooker said.

The first three months as a new company had a lot of focus on getting business processes in place. Essentially a start-up, now they’re refining their business. He added there are certain advantages to starting a business in a down cycle.

In a Sept. 27 press release, Douglas Freel, chairman of Sanjel Energy Services Inc. and a managing director at ARC Financial Corp., said, “We have intentionally capitalized Sanjel Energy Services to weather the current industry downturn while providing the company with financial flexibility to expand as market opportunities arise. We look forward to building on the current strengths and assets of Sanjel Energy Services.”

In that release, the company noted it had completed its 900th job as since commencing operations as Sanjel Energy Services on May 31.

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