Estevan – The day before the big convoy leading up to the Regina Rally Against the Carbon Tax, Chad Himmelspeck and Danny Blackburn were in their office, plotting carbon tax strategy while one of their workers took a pressure washer to the semi that would be taking part.
The owners of Ironside Energy Services Ltd. of Estevan had very good reason to be part of the protest, as those carbon tax numbers tallied up.
Asked why they were doing it, Himmelspeck said it was “To draw attention to the cause, I think people really need to start hearing us out here in the West, the way the oilfield is starting to take shape here.”
As for the carbon tax, that was precisely what they were working on. Blackburn said, “That’s what we’re trying to figure out how we’re going to charge this out, because guys we’re talking to don’t want to see it on an invoice.”
Asked why not, he replied, “Not sure. They just don’t want to see it, so it’s going to have to be incorporated differently.”
Himmelspeck said, “It just puts us in a real tough situation. Obviously, from the oil company’s perspective, they want things as cheap as they can so they can still make it profitable.”
And it two years, the carbon tax will double, from $20 per tonne to $30 per tonne the next year and $40 per tonne the following year. It go up to $50 per tonne the year after that.
As they’ve grown as a company, their fuel bill went from $6,000 a month to hundreds of thousands of dollars per month.
“And that’s probably small potatoes compared to some of these other operations, so that’s going to have a huge impact on our business,” Himmelspeck said.
He’s going to Calgary the following week, and expects it to be a discussion point.
They don’t qualify for a rebate, either.
“Off the top of my head, we’re looking at $50,000 a year, based on a full calendar year,” Himmelspeck said. And with the escalation, it will be double that in two years.
The Department of Finance Canada website (https://www.fin.gc.ca/n18/data/18-097_1-eng.asp) lists light fuel oil (diesel) at 5.37 cents per litre this year, and then 8.05 cents in April 2020, 10.73 cents per litre in April 2021 and 13.41 centres per litre in April 2022.
Ironside had as many as 26 working this past winter. They try to keep most of them working through spring breakup doing shop work and maintenance, as well as working on their crew trucks. As of early April, they were at 16 staff members. Their fleet includes eight dozers, three excavators, three crew trucks and a grader.