Bert Cosens has been servicing oil wells all of his working life. He knows the industry from the ground up. This year his company, CD Oilwell Servicing Ltd. celebrates 35 years.
Cosens intended to become an engineer. However, he says, “I got a job in the oilfield as soon as I graduated in Gr. 12 and I decided I didn’t need to be an engineer because I was making good money … and here we are.”
One of his strategies is surrounding himself with good people.
“There’s been a lot of peaks and valleys in this industry, and there’s more to come…” – Bert Cosens
The Virden-based company employs about 30 people. CD’s field supervisor Adam Gonty has been 19 years with the company. Gonty’s wife Stacie does CD’s books.
The company has family roots and now, two of his children are working for CD. Britanee (Cosens) Perrin is the safety officer, and his son Brock runs a rig.
Bert’s father, Tom Cosens, had left the farm when he was 15 to start in the oilfield industry with Sid and Art Rockall (S & A Servicing) in the late ‘50s.
PEAKS AND VALLEYS
In 1974, oil prices were in the single digits. About that time, Cosens’ uncles sold out.
More tough economic times were ahead for the oil industry when interest rates sky rocketed to as high as 21 per cent in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.
By 1984, a young Bert Cosens was ready to go on his own. He had seen a busy oilfield and the need for more service rigs. He approached his parents for help to purchase his own service rig.
However, the industry was about to enter another valley. “The worst time I remember was ’85 – ’86,” says Cosens, who was young in the business then. But just prior to that, in 1977, Bert’s father had diversified, buying a water drilling rig – Cosens Drilling Ltd.
“If it wasn’t for the water-well industry, we wouldn’t be here. We worked hard at doing other things to keep our service rig industry alive.”
The Cosens family held on, “hoping and praying” and in 1990 Bert bought the service rig company from his parents.
Then along came the world-wide 2008 economic crisis.
“This was a bad one, but it was a short-lived.” And by 2010, the global economy was in an upswing, the market recording all-time highs of up to $125 bbl for crude in 2014. That was not to last.
In 2015 oil prices plummeted to a low $43. This had a huge impact on CD’s business, and many others in the industry.
Cosens credits his dad, Tom, as his mentor. He misses him. “My dad passed away a year ago in May. He was one of my go-to people.”
Industry equipment and the repairs for it are very costly and most of it comes from the USA. “It costs us 40 cents on the dollar… everything that we work with. All our tooling.”
Despite the challenges, in 2019 CD is going strong. “Oil’s creeping back a bit.” In 2014 they had four service rigs, but now have five. “The company we work for is treating us well – Tundra Oil & Gas… We like to think that we treat them well too. It’s a good working relationship.”
New products like corrosion inhibitors help with the economics of production. “There’s a lot of smart engineers out there. It’s bringing our job to life with the technology changing. If it wasn’t for that… it would be uneconomic to produce oil.”
As a contractor Cosens never knows how many calls for service they may get in a given day. But he works to “always be there when they call.”