The Island of Newfoundland is fondly known as The Rock. It’s name comes honestly, as the rugged terrain and majestic shoreline of Newfoundland are pretty much nothing but rock. I’m from The Rock. And like most Newfoundlander’s I am proud to say that this rock is my home.
Newfoundland is the playground of some of the oldest rocks in the world, making it a rock mecca for geologists, scientists, and petroleum explorers. Formed by continental collisions, offshore Newfoundland has produced not only a sacred fishing ground, on the Grand Banks, but it has also proven its petroleum reserves as one of most lucrative oil and gas plays in the world. It’s these very rock formations that have allowed us to find oil and gas offshore Newfoundland and Labrador, making the region a hotbed for international exploration and investment.
Here the rocks are considered ancient treasures that allow you to travel back in time billions of years to the formations that produced petroleum under the earth’s surface.
Oil and gas are found in the sedimentary rocks of this region. Trapped deposits from ancient fossils and life forms have long decayed and morphed into the oil and natural gas that we use today.
Oil was drilled from the rock beds offshore Newfoundland for the first time in 1997, with the Hibernia Gravity Base Structure. Akin to a castle in the sea, Hibernia is a free-standing concrete gravity base structure, designed to withstand the harshest weather conditions on the planet, as well as oncoming icebergs that float down iceberg alley and directly into the path of the oil projects happening offshore.
30 years ago we didn’t even know that the rock bed of offshore Newfoundland had gold waiting under her seabed. But it does, Black Gold. Today, the province of Newfoundland and Labrador is Canada’s third largest oil-producing province, supplying about 4.4% of Canada’s light crude petroleum overall. It’s a hotbed for investment, exploration, and production. And we’ve only just begun.
It’s very humbling to start from nothing, build a global business and then have a market crash and have it put you back to square one. It takes something to be entrepreneurial and make a company grow, and even more to watch it diminish under market forces. But alas that has been our destiny in the oil patch in Canada in the last few years. It’s been a time of dramatic change.
One can only look for the silver lining that change has to offer. Change is a powerful force. It catches us off guard most of the time, yet it is the one constant we all live our lives from.
Bob Dylan sang the lyrics that seem so relevant today,
“Come gather around people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
And if your breath to you is worth saving
Then you better start swimming, or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changing.”
Yes, the times are changing, and it’s been a period of necessary correction, adjustment, and diversification as oil price dropped. This rock we call home has so much potential for future growth that the industry may have short-term adversity, but it has no intention of sinking like a stone.
We are diverse creatures on this rock. We know how to create from nothing, create from demise and create from hardship. The Oil and Gas Magazine had started six years before there was a drop of oil produced offshore Newfoundland and Labrador. It was a visionary undertaking that launched us headlong into what became a globally read petroleum publication through its intricate network of print, the web, online apps, a global newsletter and many social media channels.
During the lifetime of the magazine, the publishing industry morphed from a single reader of print to endless readers in the digital world. Exponential circulation became a reality as the internet ignited and globalization exploded.
The digital revolution supported the growth of the magazine in energy centers around the globe because the world was hungry. Hungry for the next opportunity. Hungry for the next development. Hungry for the next big oil discovery. And the Newfoundland offshore satiated that hunger by offering the next oil plays to come. After Hibernia, there was Terra Nova, Whiterose, and now the Hebron mega project will be producing oil for the first time in 2017.
My grandmother’s words echoed in my mind when without warning the price of oil dropped, and so did everything else in the oil industry. She said, “There will always be something to mar the peace.” And so it was, everything we built, business, staff, infrastructure, was literally cut in half, just like that. $100/barrel oil was sliced in half to less than $50/barrel. It nearly crippled us all at $30/barrel.
The effect was devastating to many. Think about what it would be like to have your current income cut in half. Could you live on it? Would you survive? Think about the supply chain that we have spent 25 years building; and then 50 – 80 percent of their business disappeared virtually overnight.
That’s one of the benefits of being born on a rock. The harsh makes you strong. The challenges make you stronger. The rugged, barren wilderness is what carries your willing heart to a place of unprecedented stamina and determination. You beat it, or you die.
The Oil and Gas Magazine after 25 years is weathering the storm by bending and molding itself to the seduction of change. We’ve weathered the storm yet many have not been able to endure it. I credit this survival to sheer will and determination and the willingness to live without luxury and sometimes comfort when hard times called for it.
There is a knowing in the gut that most entrepreneurs have, and it whispers through the day, “you built it once, you can do it again.”
Today, our company looks entirely different. We have no employees at The OGM, only contractors around the world, working on various sections of the business. The company is cloud-based, giving it the freedom to be operated from anywhere in the world all the while keeping costs to a minimum.
The digital, technological, globalized, information era that is happening on the planet, is reflected in The OGM’s current operations. We have adapted and diversified. We have bent like a branch on the tree as the wind comes.
If nothing else, 25 years of business has taught me, if things aren’t working out, it’s usually because something greater is on the way. That was the case with the digital revolution, and it is the case with the price of oil. It’s only a matter of time before we see the fruit that such dramatic change will bear.
Hang in there because just when you think you are dying, you are actually about to be born. Born to a new way of operating your business; Born to create a diversified offering for your clients; Born to a technological solution far superior to the past; Born to an entirely new game-changing method of living and working.
Trust the hardness of the rock, for it speaks to us in all of its wisdom. It silently whispers, “This is all a part of life’s rich pattern.”
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