Oil sands services outsourcing: An opportunity?

From this article in the G&M today:

Finance, engineering, maintenance planning, human resources and supply chain work could be moved from Fort McMurray ….

“We estimate that 40 to 60 per cent of all job titles and all work could be moved and be done remotely from Fort McMurray,” he said.  “And maybe half of that could be moved offshore now.” Though he would not identify who, Mr. Denham said “there are a couple of clients we’re working with on this topic.”

You can be sure that Indian outsourcers are angling for this work and you can further bet that there is no effort at all to get this work to Atl. Canada.

We have sent metal bashers out west to look for supply chain work but maybe the better opportunity is around services and support.

The more I look at this stuff the more I am convinced we have to be smarter about opportunity identification and targeted efforts to attract investment.

There are jurisdictions that are very good at targeting geographically (zooming in on nich countries such as Israel, Chile, Finland, etc.) and there are those that are very good at targeting sectorally – I think we need to start thinking more deliberately about this.

4 thoughts on “Oil sands services outsourcing: An opportunity?

  1. Hi Dave

    Hope all is well. Very interesting article and I must admit I am quite surprised that Atlantic Canada is not exploring this. Would you mind if I forwarded this article ?



  2. The Alberta government has been promoting the oil sands opportunity across Canada for more than 10 years via the National Buyer/Seller Forum. Business New Brunswick and a handful of NB companies have been represented at this event. So the key questions are: what can NB offer? What is NB’s value proposition?

  3. Thanks again for initiating conversation on an important topic. Focusing economic development efforts on targeted sectors has been key to ED successes like the contact center industry and PEI’s aerospace sector or Korea’s shipbuilding sector. Of course the difficulty is having the courage to focus; hopefully the current economic climate will provoke the necessary courage.

    It is important to understand market needs and commercial potential for specific sectors and it is equally important to target a sector that can sustain some sort of a competitive advantage beyond (temporary) incentives. Yves Bourgeois talks about “sticky knowledge” in Innovation in Atlantic Canada (see: http://www.insme.net/documenti/Atlantic_Canada.pdf) The concept of stickiness, that is some sort of inherent knowledge or difficult to replicate characteristic, is important to sustaining an ED initiative.

    So, why the medical tourism idea is a thought provoking concept with good economic potential, I am not sure about the sticky knowledge aspect. Are geographic convenience and current cost competitiveness adequate? I think you are correct that we would have to develop niche expertise. The idea of oil sands services may be a more immediate fit and arguably NB has some relevant sticky knowledge. For example, Moncton has a solid logistics heritage from shipbuilding to rail and current warehousing and trucking, and Fredericton has a solid engineering base. We could work on building a value proposition from these strengths and/or we could jump start this process by targeting a current service provider and building a value proposition for them to locate in New Brunswick.

  4. That’s the point. I am trying to get people to think this stuff through. New Brunswickers are doing all kinds of back office and support work for global companies – most of this work is done inside firms but can we build an expertise and value proposition beyond the internal company work?

    I would like us to be more deliberate about thinking this stuff through. That is the purpose of the five columns this week in the TJ.

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