Oilfield activity in the Marten Hills has brought a new business to town.
Lonnie Vermette is the manager of Venom Fluid Management in Slave Lake. It is a division of Venom Coiled Tubing in Medicine Hat.
“We came up here and had some work up here,” says Vermette, “and we just kind of grew from that.”
The first Venom company had bought a semi and tank trailer to haul water to be used with its coiled tubing trucks.
These trucks have a large coil of tubing which can be put down into oil and gas wells to do various things.
When the company no longer needed the truck and trailer, a previous manager said he could find work for it. The work ended up being in Slave Lake.
“It’s the oilpatch,” says Vermette. “You don’t know what you’re doing day to day.”
For now, business is booming.
Venom started off with one truck and trailer in January and February. As of early Septemer, it had about seven semis, three super Bs (two connected short trank trailers), and five straight cans (longer tank trailers). It also has a shop and office north of Caribou Trail in Slave Lake.
“I think we have a two-year lease,” says Vermette. “Then we have the option to buy it.”
Venom has about eight or nine drivers working out of Slave Lake and a third-year heavy duty mechanic apprentice. Venom has also rented a four-bedroom duplex for out of town drivers to stay at. Some also stay at the Slave Lake Inn.
“We like to try and hire local,” says Vermette.
Most of the work is with Tamarack Valley Energy.
“We just haul their oil and water,” says Vermette.
The work is on three-month contracts, so the location of the hauls change, but much of it is off Hwy. 754 at about kilometre 15 and 22. Hwy. 754 intersects with Hwy. 88 north of Marten Beach and goes to Wabasca.
Vermette’s wife, Jessica Cameron, is from Slave Lake. The couple lived in Slave Lake for 13 years ending in 2014. They are now in Morinville, but spend a lot of time in Slave Lake.