Fleet Energy expands its operations, buying former Gibsons/Palko disposal sites

Midale – Fleet Energy (Fleet Environmental Solutions) has more than doubled in size, adding three salt water disposal and waste disposal sites in southeast Saskatchewan, adding to its two operating sites.

With the Bakken boom, the increased oil production lead to a corresponding increase in produced water. There was a significant need for disposal sites in the play, and several facilities were built to accommodate the need for water disposal services and oilfield waste management.

Among the first were those built by Palko. They started in 2007 with a site north of Midale, not far from Viewfield, after which the Bakken play was named. It was initially a disposal well, but then in 2009 a pad was added to deal with other oilfield waste streams.

Their second and third sites were both built around the same time in 2011.

The second location, south of Oungre, was initially licensed to accept water-based oilfield waste streams. Some examples include service rig completion fluids, spill fluids, production fluids and frac fluids. (more on that later). The site is on Highway 35.

The third site was built just south of Stoughton, within a few kilometres of Crescent Point Energy Corp.’s main Viewfield battery. It was essentially a mirror of the Oungre site, and is just off Highway 47. It is referred to as the Viewfield location.

Highway access was an important consideration in site selection. 

In late 2011, Palko sold to Gibson Energy for $62.7 million, a deal which included several sites in Alberta as well.

Around the same time, Fleet Energy, headquartered at Indian Head, fired up in 2010. Its principal location was located just east of Forget, along Highway 13. The plan was to commence construction in 2011 but put off the project due to flooding throughout the region. The facility was built throughout 2012 and went into operation in late 2012. The following year, they added a state of the art heated pad to handle solids at Forget. (This location is referred to as “Stoughton” by Fleet. Their facility south of Stoughton, but nearer to the community, is called “Viewfield.”)

In 2017, Fleet picked up the former Tervita site on the edge of Arcola, which was initially built for T-45 Oil. That site was shut-in in late 2014 due to the slowdown in oilfield activity and has not currently been put back into operation, but is being used for storage from time to time when Fleet’s Stoughton site needs extra capacity.

All this leads up to a pivotal announcement made by Gibsons in September 2018. The company, whose reputation was initially built on trucking, announced that it was selling off its trucking division along with its other divisions to focus on tank farms and pipe infrastructure. That announcement led to the sale of the disposal sites in southeast Saskatchewan.

Stephen Hoff is the sales manager with Fleet, while Nathan Hollick is president and CEO. Hoff met with Pipeline Newsat the Midale location on Aug. 16.

Hoff explained that the purchase wasn’t a direct one from Gibsons. Rather, Gibsons sold all their waste disposal facilities in Western Canada to Wolverine Energy and Infrastructure Inc. and Fleet bought the oilfield waste facilities in southeast Saskatchewan from Wolverine.

“Gibsons didn’t want to sell just Saskatchewan, but the whole waste business,” he said.

Daily Oil Bulletin(DOB) noted on Feb. 15 that Wolverine would be acquiring “12 environmental services facilities across Alberta and Saskatchewan, including multiple waste management, waste disposal, and crude oil handling facilities, as well as associated tanks, pumps, pipelines, treaters and various other equipment.”

On March 1, DOB reported Wolverine “has closed a disposition of three non-core environmental services facilities in Saskatchewan being acquired as part of the acquisition for total cash proceeds of $15.4 million.”  

There was one asset in the region that wasn’t included in the deal – the industrial landfill at Heward. Wolverine kept that, as Fleet chose not to buy it, according to Hoff.

Fleet took over the three Gibsons assets effective on March 1 this year, where the purchase/sale was closed on March 22, 2019.

Of the total six facilities now, Midale and Stoughton (Forget) are full-waste capable, while Oungre, Viewfield, Stoughton and Arcola are fluids only. All six facilities have as a miminum of one injection well for fluids. Solids processed at the Midale and Stoughton (Forget) are then transferred to appropriate industrial landfills.

Between all these facilities, the company employs 15 people, with head office just outside of Indian Head. “It’s a Saskatchewan company with Saskatchewan-ownership and Saskatchewan operated. We try to source everything locally,” Hoff said.

Hollick added by email, “Our employees are our greatest asset! They are our frontline and face of our company.”

Hoff said, “Midale is our hub. We can pull from Oungre, Stoughton, Viewfield. We’re trying to make Midale our central location.”

“Our whole game is separation at the end of the truck. Everything goes through a centrifuge. We have three at Midale, one decanter and two tricanters,” he said. 

The Oungre facility is what Hoff referred to as “deep well injection.” waste fluids are injected into the middle and lower Devonian formation,a deep sedimentary formation in southeast Saskatchewan above the Ordivician and the PreCambrian basement. The well was originally drilled to in excess of 3,000 metres. In addition to water, this well can take industrial waste. “We did an amendment to expand the type of wastes on our Oungre license. It has been recently approved by the regulator’s.”

It’s not a cavern. But by being a deep well, it can take things like industrial leachate, some refinery waste, drilling mud and the like.

Hoff said, “We have a pretty good maintenance program,” explaining that they would be dead in the water if their disposal wells went down. Everything All fluids are processed and then go es through tiny screens, resulting in zero solids and zero oil going into the disposal wells.  

Fleet has an oil credit program. Hoff explained, “If you haul in oil, we take ownership and give you a credit.”

Regarding how business is going, Hoff said. “It’s sluggish. Peaks and valleys. So much of our business is tied to the drilling.”

As a result, he noted, “We started to diversify. We’re looking elsewhere for industrial waste.”

That includes the other industries and municipalities where possible, with plans to continue to expand its acceptable waste streams, according to Hollick.

While highways in the Oungre region have been historically quite bad, that’s no longer the situation. Recent roadwork means they’re “brand new” from both Weyburn and Estevan, leading to Oungre.

Hoff said they are looking to hire three people, for Stoughton (Forget), Oungre and Midale. “We’re always looking for good operators, someone who wants to be part of a team.

“We’re hoping to expand our facilities, our waste streams. We’re strong believers in charging a fair rate and providing a great service.”

The pool of people out there looking for work has shrunken dramatically, however, as Fleet, like most other companies Pipeline Newshas spoken to in recent years, have found many people have abandoned the oilpatch for other work. This puts pressure on all local operating companies but also provides opportunities for those looking for work, Hollick said.

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