Mark Scholz is president of the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (CAODC).
Calgary’s Business: What’s the vision and mission of the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors?
Scholz: Our vision is to be the most influential trade association in Canada because we want to help create the best possible environment for our members to operate in. We’re passionate about our industry because we see the impacts it has on everyday Canadians; the drilling and well-servicing industry have helped raise the standard of living in this country for decades.
The businesses our members create have helped build wealth and create jobs that have transformed the lives of people who may have never had the opportunity otherwise. In this industry, if you’re willing to work hard, are creative and honest, and respect those you work with, you can build a life for yourself and your family.
I’ve seen guys with no high school education go on to build companies and employ their friends, families and communities along the way. Hard work, relationships, and perseverance can pay off. There aren’t too many industries like that left, which is why we work so hard to keep this one going.
CB: What’s the current level of activity and the forecast for the rest of 2018?
Scholz: Currently, our utilization levels have stabilized at right around 30 per cent with a much lower fleet size than before the downturn. Our members are still finding ways of staying viable because they see the industry in the U.S. and around the world is still viable.
CB: What are the biggest challenges the industry is facing today?
Scholz: Canada has been at the wrong end of many challenges since 2014, but we know oil and gas are still in demand around the world and will be for some time. We need a few things, such as pipelines, to fall into place so we can attract investment back and let people know we’re still in the business of producing the world’s most responsible oil and gas.
CB: What’s the current mood of operators in the industry?
Scholz: The great thing about people in this business is they are optimists and risk takers. If you didn’t think you had a chance to do great things and succeed, you wouldn’t take the risk, and our members have the entrepreneurial spirit needed to never give up. Having said that, this has been a long and painful downturn.
CB: Has Alberta turned the economic corner or is it still not out of the woods yet?
Scholz: It’s tough to say we’ve turned a corner for a few reasons. The price of oil has almost doubled since its lows back in 2015, yet activity levels for our members haven’t recovered in the same way. Additionally, natural gas prices remain extremely low, and with no LNG infrastructure in place, gas exploration isn’t where it could be either.
We see business booming in the U.S. and other places around the world, with LNG, heavy oil and conventional oil, but oil and gas in Canada has had so many public barbs thrown at it over the past 10 years that we now have a substantial image problem we need to overcome.
CAODC and other organizations have been working on changing the story by sharing the facts about our industry for a few years now and we’ve been making headway, but we still have work to do.
If you asked our members if we’re out of the woods, I think they may say: “Not just yet, but we’re not giving up either, and we’ll get there.”
– Mario Toneguzzi