The wheels are turning

It’s hard to draw any reliable conclusions about the state of the economy by anecdotal evidence. In other words – what you see around you or what you pick up in casual conversation. Generally speaking, though, it’s probably fair to say the energy side of the Alberta economy is slow. The relatively low price of oil guarantees that. Large sums are not being invested in new stuff. Maintenance of existing production continues, but a lot of the companies that grew up around here serving ‘the patch’ depend on growth for their bread and butter. Building roads and leases, drilling, supplying rigs and so on. Things are slow, and one result of that is you see companies looking for work in areas they once were happy to ignore, such as municipal contracts. We assume that’s why twice in the past few months companies that do non-traditional road-building have pitched their services to M.D. council. In both cases their résumés are full of oilfield applications and not much in the way of other types of roads. But now they are branching out.

In another example, a local oilfield outfit was digging out ditches for the M.D. recently. And of course a lot of oilfield haulers turn to logs, because that’s where the demand for truckers is at the moment.

And yet… driving to Edmonton the other day, your editorialist was constantly being forced over onto the shoulder by wide loads going north. At one point, a convoy of five or six giant tanks went by, each with its pilot truck. It was quite the parade. Very impressive. Then came two houses – even wider. Not to mention an endless array of tanker trucks, lumber trucks, veneer trucks and gravel trucks. Stuff is going on somewhere and the highways are taking their usual pounding. We notice that newly-paved intersection in Westlock has already got six-inch ruts in it, exactly the width of the duals on big rigs. The wheels of industry are turning, somehow.

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