The Global Petroleum Show kicked off its 48th year at Calgary’s Stampede Park with a twist reflecting the downturn in energy prices: the show had a career counselling seminar.
Tuesday’s session was for unemployed engineers.
“It’s really hard to get back and repurpose your skills to another sector,” said Jeanette Sutherland, with Calgary Economic Development. “So we are going to help them with networking and finding the hidden job market.”
Tough times in the oil and gas industry are being blamed for smaller crowds on the first day of the show, an annual event in Calgary considered a bellwether for the energy business.
Wes Scott, executive vice-president of energy for show promoter DMG Events, said about 50,000 people pre-registered as delegates, about the same as in 2015.
But returning exhibitors said Tuesday that crowds were smaller than last year.
Scott said there were about 1,500 companies exhibiting at the show, which is 25 per cent fewer than 2014 when 2,000 attended.
He said that’s due to spending restraints as companies hit hard by low oil and gas prices rein in spending.
In another sign of the times, the show for the first time is highlighting exhibits and featuring educational talks zeroing in on clean technology.
Exhibitor Mike Crabtree, vice-president of energy for the Saskatchewan Research Council, said the theme works perfectly with his organization’s proposed technology testing service set to start next year. The service would help companies prove environmentally friendly technologies for oil and gas.
“You know, it used to be around what’s the price of oil and how much does this (project) cost, what’s the differential that we’re paying?” he said. “The fourth piece now is very much the environmental component. How compliant am I with my technology?”
Quinn Holtby, president and CEO of Edmonton-based Katch Kan, said he likes the show’s new focus because his oilfield manufacturing company has been in the clean technology business since it was founded in 1994. It makes a portfolio of drilling rig products it calls the “zero spill system” designed to ensure safe and clean operations.
The longtime petroleum show exhibitor said slowing sales have forced him to reduce staff at his manufacturing facility in Edmonton to about 75 from over 200 people two years ago.
With files from Global’s Gary Bobrovitz