Atco positions itself as ‘one-stop shop’ in the oil sands

Growth eyed beyond industrial lodging

March 16, 2012

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George Lidgett
Photograph Shaun Robinson

Atco Structures & Logistics (ASL) executive vice-president of operations and manufacturing George Lidgett wants it all. Lidgett’s company recently closed a deal with Husky Energy Inc. to provide camp housing and catering for the Sunrise oil sands project. This comes after it was already providing site services at Sunrise. The Husky deal positions Atco as a one-stop shop in Alberta for industrial camp services, something Lidgett hopes catches the attention of other oil sands producers.

Alberta Oil: How is the lodging concept for Sunrise different from what’s been done before?
George Lidgett:
There are many companies that do parts and pieces of this business. We are providing the operator’s camp for Husky as well as its office complex. Added to that is the camp service business, which involves food services and maintenance of the lodge, and we are providing site services – firefighting, medical services, security and ground transportation. It’s a solution for all aspects of the site for Husky. We view that as unique at the moment.

AO: What are the benefits to oil sands producers to having one firm do all this work for them?
It is a simpler solution. They have one contractor to work with. That drives synergies to the client in terms of oversight within their organization and also potentially provides price point optimization for them.

AO: Where did the idea for this come from?
We’ve been doing components of this for decades. On the structure side, we’ve been doing this since the 1940s with the provision of modular units. On the service side of it we’ve been working at it across Canada’s North through the [Distant Early] Warning System, and with NATO in Bosnia and Afghanistan providing site service support. What we see now is taking our suite of services into a one-stop shop for our clients.

AO: How important is the oil sands sector going to be to ASL’s business in the future?
We view it as a key growth market. It’s a long-term resource that will be developed and will have requirements for any one of the three services. Packaging all of the three pieces together in the oil sands allows us to leverage our key resources here in Alberta. We’re focused on this.

AO: On the oil and gas side, are there other countries or regions you will be looking to sell this concept to?
That’s one question I won’t answer [laughs]. What I will say is we are always looking across the globe for opportunities that exist in the oil and gas industry and other market segments.

AO: How important is it for ASL to provide aboriginal people with substantial economic opportunities when you are doing business in the bitumen belt?
It’s very important, whether it’s in the bitumen belt or other regions. Local communities need to be involved in the economic development of the area. It’s part and parcel of doing business in a region, whether it be the bitumen belt or in Afghanistan. We hire local Afghanis in some of our operations there. It’s no different in Fort McMurray.

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