Regina – Brian Crossman, one of the partners in Independent Well Servicing, testified before the Senate Transport and Communications Committee in Regina on May 1, as part of their travelling hearings into Bill C-48, the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act. On May 15, the committee voted against the act, but it still has to be considered by the Senate as a whole.
Here is Crossman’s testimony, verbatim:
My name is Brian Crossman, and I am representing Independent Well Servicing Ltd. based out of Estevan Saskatchewan. I believe I speak for all my colleagues in the western Canadian oil industry. I would like to thank the Senate Committee for the opportunity to testify on this very important issue. It is moments like this that I remember how blessed I am to be a Canadian.
Who we are: Our Company is Independent Well Servicing. We are a privately-owned company based in Estevan and we have been in business for over 15 years. Our primary focus is working on oil wells in southeast Saskatchewan. We are 100% invested in Canadian operations, and have had as many as 68 people working in our team at peak times. Currently we have 42 employees. We are a people focused company, doing our best to provide safe, high-paying careers for our people with room for advancement. We achieve this by providing our teams with the very best, safest, well-maintained equipment. Independent Well Servicing has hired people from every province in Canada. Many of these people are female, First Nations, minorities, LGBT and of course new Canadians. We have a very diverse work force at our company.
How does Bill C-48 affect southeast Saskatchewan: This is not just about the microcosm of a tanker ban on the northwest coast of British Columbia. This is about a much larger picture. Realistically, we are in a carbon-based economy right now and for the foreseeable future. The entire world needs reasonably priced, ethically produced, accessible energy to both maintain our Canadian standard of living and to raise the standard of living in the rest of the world. By not allowing Canadians the opportunity to sell our products to the world only allows other, less ethical and less environmentally friendly countries to sell at a higher price to the rest of the world, including Eastern Canada. This ties our hands in the most unfair, unethical way. Our own Canadian government allows U.S. based groups to fund activists to protest and block the movement of Canadian crude oil to tidewater. These groups are funded by corporations that buy our oil at very cheap, discounted prices, and then sell it at a large profit. Studies have shown the money lost to the Canadian people to be as high as 80 million dollars a day! That is $29 billion in only one year!
Without more pipelines to provide an economical and safe way to move oil by ship, we continue to sell our crude at a severe discount. This means that oil producers do not invest in drilling, optimize production and do not repair uneconomical wells. If Canada was able to ship and sell our oil and gas to world markets like other oil producing nations do, the amount of money that would be brought into the Canadian economy is staggering.
This revenue could be used to invest in cleaner energy and environmental technologies, instead of burdening every Canadian taxpayer. This situation also means that oil producers have to cut costs somehow. These cuts are passed down the line to the contractors that perform work on the oil wells and it spirals outwardly, ultimately resulting in less tax revenue for all levels of government. This does not even factor in the huge reduction in the spin off benefits for local business and charities.
The community benefits created by the Canadian oil patch are too numerous to mention here today. But among them, they include funding for infrastructure, hospitals, schools, universities and parks. Some local examples are Crescent Point Place in Weyburn, the Murray Edwards School of Business at the University of Saskatchewan, and various facilities in every oil town in western Canada.
The tanker ban: There are over 50,000 merchant ships responsible for the carriage of about 90 per cent of world trade. Some 4,300 of these (so less than 10 per cent) are oil tankers that move crude oil around the world safely and efficiently every day of the year. Modern tankers with the latest and best technology and construction would be the only tankers allowed in our waters. It seems somewhat disingenuous to allow all manner of material to be shipped in and out of Canadian ports, but not Canadian oil. Oil is shipped all the time down the St. Lawrence seaway. Oil tankers regularly move oil down the west coast from Valdez, Alaska to the lower 48 states. Shipping off the west coast should not be a problem if it is done correctly with safety being the top priority. Whales and marine life can’t tell the difference between an oil tanker and a cargo ship full of iPads from China. As a side note, my wife Val is from British Columbia and I have been salmon fishing at the Haida Gwaii. So I personally would not be in favour of anything that I believe would unnecessarily endanger the west coast of Canada, no matter what my career was.
The benefits of increased revenue: If Canada had the opportunity to sell oil on the current world market, it’s very easy to see the benefits to our entire country. Without the revenue, investing in our children’s future is much more problematic. We need funding for schools, universities, hospitals, health care, infrastructure and so much more. Where could we possibly get this revenue? From oil. We need funding to develop clean, long term energy sources for the future. Where could this money come from? Again, from oil revenue. We are Canadians, not Saudi oil sheiks. We will spend our oil revenue on our children’s future, not yachts and gold-plated Mercedes. We need to invest in Canada and control our own destiny, and not leave it to the rest of the world. We need a plan. A good, well-researched plan. Can we do it better? Absolutely. Will Canadians do it better? Yes, as we always have in the past and always will. It’s who we are. Canadians want a bright future for our children and grandchildren. We are the country that cares for each other, and cares for the rest of the world.
If given the opportunity, Canada will always follow through and do the right thing. Period.
A brief description of what we do: Our company works primarily on the completion, repair, optimization and abandonment of oil and gas wells in southeast Saskatchewan. We have also performed workovers and repaired wells at potash mines, natural gas storage cavern wells and the soon to be completed Deep Earth Geothermal Power project, southwest of Estevan. The work is often complex and requires well-trained teams to perform all duties safely, efficiently and to high environmental standards.
How we do it: As with all operations in the Canadian oil patch, we perform all duties safely, ethically and with full respect for the environment and all the stakeholders involved. This means using good, sound best practices, top shelf training and using the best available technologies to perform the duties safely with absolutely minimal environmental impact.
Why we do it: We are a business, so obviously we do what we do to provide a good return on investment to our shareholders. Having said that, we also do it to provide a good standard of living to our employees and their families. We support our community, through corporate donations to hospitals, schools and local charities. We pay taxes, which support our city, our municipalities and the provincial and federal governments. To summarize, our company and other companies in our industry, are economically, environmentally and socially responsible.
My story: I started out as a floorhand (or roughneck) on an oil well service rig in May of 1985. I have worked hard, and made my way up to a supervisory role, as well as a company shareholder with some outstanding partners. I spent three years working in the Siberian oilfields. As a side note, that was an environmental disaster when I worked there in the 1990s. There is simply no comparison to Canada as far as environmental stewardship goes. We are so much better in every respect. I have made a good living and I have paid a lot of taxes towards the greater good of all members of Canadian society. I have been able to donate to many charities and put three daughters through post-secondary education.
Thank-you for this opportunity.