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Guardian Oilfield - diversifying services to meet clients needs

Over time, Guardian Oilfield Services has found its niche, adding, and diversifying its services to meet the needs of firms that produce and distribute petroleum.

Guardian Oilfield Services, located in Virden, Manitoba, provides support services to the oil industry throughout Manitoba and Saskatchewan. This includes vapour suppression/turnaround, air trailers, confined space rescue, gas monitoring/sampling and steaming.

For owner Eric Barkley, it all started thanks to his desire to become an entrepreneur.

“I worked for a company here in town that was doing the same thing,” he said. “Meanwhile, I was getting to the age where I wanted to run my own company. I contacted my bank, put together a business plan, was approved and began operations six years ago.”

Over time, the company has found its niche, adding, and diversifying its services to meet the needs of firms that produce and distribute petroleum.

“When we started off, we were doing foaming (of) tanks and vessels,” Barkley said. “It knocks the gas levels down. It makes for quicker entry, so you can get them cleaned faster, get them inspected and put them back together. Your downtime is drastically reduced. We built an air trailer, and we have it sitting out at the service rig. If the rig encounters high levels of gas, they’ve got breathing air there…they put on their packs and keep working. About four years ago, we bought a dry steam unit for use in the oilfield…steaming well heads when they freeze, headers, and all that.

Barkley runs the company as a home-based business, with a staff of four and a shop in a separate location. “The air trailer stays in Manitoba, and with the turnaround truck I’ve worked all over Manitoba and Saskatchewan,” he said.

The oil industry did not escape the global pandemic unscathed, nor did supporting businesses like Guardian that help keep the crude flowing.

“With COVID during the last couple of years, I downsized from six pieces of equipment at one point to two,” Barkley said. “On the air trailer side, it didn’t really affect it. They kind of kept going. However, the negative impact was more prevalent on the turnaround side.

“We usually average about 90 to 120 jobs a year,” Barkley said. “During the height of the pandemic, it went from that to about 20 to 30 jobs per year for those two years, so it really affected me hard.”

Having persevered through the worst of COVID-19, Barkley noted that attracting and retaining the qualified staff needed to move his company forward has proven challenging.

“During COVID, everyone saw what the oil patch was like,” he said. “It was so cut-throat…oil is at this price…we don’t need you anymore. Sorry. I think that’s what everyone saw, and now we’re offering crazy high wages…even higher wages than we were paying before just to get guys back out of the woodwork…back into the oilfield. It’s interesting. We’re always looking for staff. The more staff I’ve got, the more area I can cover.”

For his part, Barkley is sincerely appreciative of his customers’ support throughout his time as a fledgling owner-operator right up until today.

“Now, I’ve been with those guys for more than five years on my own,” he said. “They took a chance on me, and it worked out. He cited an example of one company in Saskatchewan whom he has been working through four ownership transitions.

“We’re back running full tilt now,” he said. “I’ve got a couple of irons in the fire I’m looking at right now just to kind of cover some more area. It’s what I like to do, and I’ve been doing it now for seven and a half years.”

The monthly Oilfield Report is made possible by the following sponsors
Guardian Oilfield Services  |  H&G Directional Drilling  |  Valor Labs
Tundra Oil & Gas  |  GeoVerra

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