ARTICLES

Going to the Mat for Safety and Environment

Posted on July 19, 2019

 

Landowners and energy companies embrace best practises and a new working relationship

By Chace Elliot

"Energy companies are slowly beginning to realize that a lasting relationship with landowners can be mutually beneficial, as landowners can work to steward the land to the benefit of all."

A fall that included copious amounts of rain, heavy snow, and freezing temperatures wasn’t good for the energy industry, and it certainly wasn’t good for farmers. Pipelines couldn’t get their pipe backfilled or their right-of-ways cleaned-up, and farmers couldn’t get their grain off or their straw baled. 

Although very different, both farmers and energy companies have their own financial bottom lines that need to be met at the end of the year, regardless of weather conditions.

Just like cattle or grain, energy is a commodity that is vulnerable to changing conditions, and yet in both the farming and energy industries, there is one constant. That constant is the land. 

Farmers have been stewards of the land from the very beginning because they understand the fundamental principle that they need the land to make their living. Energy companies are slowly beginning to realize that a lasting relationship with landowners can be mutually beneficial, as landowners can work to steward the land to the benefit of all.

Western Canada has undergone tremendous change since the discovery of oil, and it is changing again. Energy industry companies owned and operated by farmers and landowners are changing the way that business is done on a daily basis.

A problem that used to be solved by paying farmers mediocre sums of money (at best), is now being solved by working with farmers to find a solution that benefits everyone. These solutions can be as simple as installing a new barbed wire fence instead of patching together the old one, and they can be as complex as reintroducing wetland inhabitants to rebuild an ecologically stable environment.

Galloway Construction Group in Ponoka, Alberta, is owned, led, and operated by landowners. Both the president and the CEO operate separate grain and cattle operations in the central Alberta region and they understand what it means to be stewards of the land. This is a value that is passed down throughout the entire company, right down to the green hire who wonders why trucks and equipment are regularly washed. It doesn’t take long for that worker to learn just how serious an impact diseases like clubroot can have on a farmer’s operation and that he is responsible to help mitigate that risk.

DURA-BASE mats are quickly spreading across the Western Canadian landscape, and their reputation as the most durable and best all-around access solution is being spread from landowner to boardroom and beyond. 

Five years ago, Galloway Construction Group noticed the benefits that DURA-BASE mats provide compared to traditional wooden mats, and they seized the opportunity to partner with Newpark Mats and Integrated Services and become the Western Canadian distributor. 

Because Galloway is operated by landowners, they were able to recognize that there was enough traffic on the road, so why fight to pass combines and swathers more than necessary? The lightweight and non-porous nature of DURA-BASE mats eliminates upwards of 66 per cent of truck traffic associated with access matting, as well as cross-
contamination. 

Years ago, your father or your grandpa may have told you that if you aren’t going to do something right, there is no point in doing it at all. That adage still holds true today. If energy companies in today’s climate are not willing to go the extra mile and work with farmers to create a quality product they can both be proud of, then why do it?

Whether you’re building a pipeline, a gas plant, a transmission line, or a highway, don’t be the company that gets left behind: use DURA-BASE composite access mats on the project and work with farmers and landowners to build a better tomorrow. 

Chace Elliott has more than nine years’ experience in the oil and gas and heavy construction industries, working with Galloway Construction Group and founding his own comp-any. He holds a master’s degree from Dalhousie University in resource and environmental management. His international experience includes partnerships and expansion opportunities between Canada and the U.S., and his current research involves studying the correlation between the spread of noxious weeds and the construction of linear projects.

Published in PIPELINE OBSERVER Fall 2018