Canadian Manufacturing

Corporate Calgary facing productivity losses after evacuations

Number of major Calgary-based energy firms shuttered offices in days following flooding

CALGARY—Some of the energy companies headquartered in downtown Calgary could see productivity losses after being forced out of their offices by severe flooding, but the good news is that oil and gas production are largely unaffected, analysts said.

“These downtown offices are centrepoints for planning,” said Brian Pow, vice-president of research at Acumen Capital Partners Ltd.

“When you don’t have minds congregated, because they’re not all in the office, that’s where you’re losing productivity.”

And, although it’s a “major inconvenience,” the evacuations are unlikely to have a huge impact on oil and gas producers’ bottom lines, added Todd Hirsch, an analyst at ATB Financial.

“Corporate Calgary is very good at working remotely,” said Hirsch.

“That’s why we all have these smartphones and email and remote servers, so that when these disruptions happen, at least the bare bones of business can still happen.”

The Calgary headquarters of several energy companies—including Encana Corp., Suncor Energy, Enbridge Inc. and Imperial Oil—were closed in the days following the flooding.

Employees were still able to work remotely, although many companies said they were focusing only on the most essential business activities.

Encana Corp. asked employees to work from home June 25 and said it will do the same the following day as the office will remain closed.

“We are encouraging people, if they are capable, to work from home, but in our instructions to employees number one is, ensure the safety and security of your family and your property and yourself,” said spokesman Jay Averill.

Encana said only two of its gas well sites, located southeast of Calgary, have been impacted by flooding.

“Outside of Calgary we’ve had almost zero impact,” said Averill.

Talisman Energy said a small number of employees who are engaged in “critical” business activities, such as those supporting exploration and production, were given access to the company’s offices, as some parts of the city have been reopened.

The head office of Enbridge Inc. in Calgary was also closed June 24 as the company grappled with a spill from its Line 37 pipeline in northern Alberta, possibly as a result of shifting ground due to unusually heavy rains.

Suncor Energy said it has temporarily reduced production from its Fort McMurray oilsand operations as a result of the precautionary shutdown of the Enbridge pipeline system within the Fort McMurray region.

“We’re using our existing storage capacity, as well as moving volume on our oilsands pipeline, to mitigate the impact while we work with Enbridge to facilitate safely bringing the pipelines back into operation,” said president and CEO Steve Williams.

“At this time, Suncor does not anticipate an impact on its ability to meet annual production guidance,” the company added.

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