Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Rent A Crowd

The right wing press pundits and those opposed to Albertans getting their fair share will make a big deal out of the Oil Bosses Venezuelan Style Protest at the Leg today. Until you realize that the workers there were bussed in by the bosses and paid to be there, complete with signs provided by their bosses.

Also most of them have not read the Royalty Report nor know what its recommendations are. And thanks to your's truly helping get the message out about this right wing demo a counter protest occurred.

The workers, many carrying signs printed by Ensign Energy, the drilling giant based out out of Calgary, and wearing hard hats brought by the company for the occasion, said they fear losing their livelihoods if the report's recommendations are accepted.

Whether the crowd had considered the accuracy of the report was another matter; while several said they felt it was flawed, they either admitted they hadn't read it, or, in several cases, that they didn't really understand the complexities of the royalty structure. Many also confirmed their employers had given them a paid day off to attend the rally.

And about two dozen pro-report demonstrators also showed up. Alan Boyle said he worked in the oilpatch for nearly 40 years. "I don't blame these people for being apprehensive because the message they're getting is fear and they're following that. They're scared for their jobs. I notice some older fellas who in the 80s were perhaps hurt when the NEP came in."

But Boyle also said based on the price of oil, the only reason for companies to fear monger about slowing down is because they want to make more money, instead of paying the public its fair share -- something that repeated reports from multiple economists suggests hasn't happened in years.

"It's generally fear and these people are bought and paid for. I don't think the royalty review is way out of line. I think it's quite fair. I don't really see where, based on the price of oil per barrel right now, that any company is really hurting. There are traditionally seasonal sectors feeling the pinch right now but that's got nothing to do with oil royalties."

The AFL issued in a statement criticizing the Wednesday event planned for the Alberta legislature in Edmonton. Gil McGowan, president of the AFL, said:

"These are people who have bought into the scare tactics currently being used by Big Oil. Obviously, they have a right to speak for themselves. But let's be clear: they don't speak for anything close to a majority of Albertans working in the oil patch or related industries." "It's always scary when the people who sign your paycheques start talking about job loss," says McGowan. "But it's clear that a strong majority of workers in this province - regardless of what industries they happen to be in - want a much better deal on the resources that we all own collectively as citizens. And they're not about to back down just because a few cranky CEOs have been rattling their sabres." "Right now, Big Oil is behaving like a kid throwing a tantrum," concludes McGowan. "They're stamping their feet and making threats. But they're not about to leave the sandbox - because there's too much money to be made and, frankly, because there's nowhere else for them to go."

He described the legislature rally, organized by owners of small energy and oilfield service companies, as “essentially a bosses’ rally.”

While it’s being billed as a “grassroots oil workers rally,” McGowan wondered how it could be when most of the companies don’t work in the northern Alberta oil patch, including Fort McMurray. He added those involved are mostly natural gas employers. At a time when many industry players have already admitted the gas industry is slowing as basins mature and prices increase, McGowan said these companies are using those pre-existing market conditions as scare tactics.
“These employers have been trying to say their recent layoffs are a sign of things to come when in fact they have almost nothing to do with the current royalty regime or the one being proposed by the royalty panel,” he said. “Their problem has nothing to do with current royalty regime or the proposed one. They’re caused by the recent slump in the price for natural gas.”

As for the claims about the slow down in the conventional gas and oil patch, that is the nature of the business. Last spring was too warm for some patch operations. Guys I know working in the patch who start in December or January weren't getting started till late February early March. This fall appears to be another Indian Summer so again the patch will start up later than usual.

Dave Hamsing, who runs a drilling company south of Calgary, said companies are already scaling back operations, waiting to see how the government responds to the royalty review.

Hamsing has only two rigs booked this winter, after six were cancelled. He fears another bust in Alberta is a possibility.

"The ones who suffer from the fallout will be us, the service companies, entrepreneurs, employees, families. The rest of Alberta is going to suffer if they implement the royalty report in its state," said Derrick Jacobson, owner of a small oil service company in Red Deer.

"It's not threats anymore, I mean some companies have shifted operations to Saskatchewan already."

Jacobson called Wednesday's protest in Edmonton a "grassroots oil workers rally," but the involvement of a high-priced public relations firm is raising questions.

Don't believe me,well then lets ask Mr.Right Wing his-self, Neil Waugh;

Threat of job losses in the oilpatch due to royalty boost may just be a Big Oil invention

But it was a great day for the flat-earth believers in the Calgary oil towers and their compliant, soon-to-be communications directors.

Fortress Stelmach had been finally breached and the Stalmachistas are fleeing for the hills after the Cowtown oil aristocrats launched their third and final desperate assault - code-named the "Perfect Storm."

That is where tens of thousands of oilpatch workers would lose their jobs if the modest royalty tweaks go through - not to mention their double wides and dually diesels.


Of course, there is a problem. The winter drilling season is going to be a bust. And the summer one was nothing to brag about either.

Big Oil has already pulled back their big budgets. Rigs are racked and trucks haven't turned a wheel all summer, especially in Stelmach's rural heartland.

Big Oil invented the storm. Now they want to pin the blame on Stelmach, as rig moving king pin Murray Mullen tried to do last week when he announced the "temporary layoff" of 100 truck drivers and swampers.

Yep today's protest was the Oil Rig Bosses blaming the Royalty report for the fact that they had a poor spring and summer and are preparing for a slow start this winter. It has nothing to do with our getting our fair share and everything to do with the weather.

But heck you know they would look silly if they protested the weather.

Come to think of it I wonder if they have considered the impact of Global Warming on their jobs.

Nah, that's just another socialist plot like the Royalty Report.

Representatives from the fledgling Wild Rose Party and the Alberta Alliance, Alberta's two ultra-right wing parties, also addressed the crowd. Alliance leader Paul Hinman, the MLA for Cardston-Taber, called the recommendations a colossal mistake. "It's pure politics to talk about 'fair share' because that's how you make everybody upset, by saying 'you didn't get your fair share'," he said.

Don't Let Big Oil Set Our Royalty Rates make sure Ed hears from you


Our Resources, Our Future, Our Decisions

Real Oil Workers Rally

I Am Malcontent

Who Will Decide About Royalties

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