It’s the Economy, Stupid!


Maybe you’re not old enough to remember the phrase “It’s the economy, stupid!” The 1992 Bill Clinton presidential campaign workers coined it as an internal-facing key message. Somehow, the story leaked. But if you don’t remember that, we all know how important the economy remains for any election platform – and how it’s in the forefront of Canadians’ minds, every day.

When we think about the environment, we usually aren’t thinking of it as an economic driver in Canada. However, environmental professionals are creating business opportunities with commitment, imagination and specific, critical expertise. And yes, it’s about the economy, stupid.

We connected with Secure Energy Services (SECURE) to talk to them about how protecting the environment makes good business sense and has an impact on the Canadian economy. Here’s what they had to say.

ECO: What’s the core business of Secure Energy Services?

SECURE: SECURE is a leading Environmental, Midstream and Technical Solution provider for the energy industry. Throughout our 90+ services, we provide our clients with safe, environmentally responsible and innovative solutions for drilling, completions, production optimization, well and asset abandonment, and final reclamation.

ECO: Tell us about what those projects might look like.

SECURE: For example, our OnSite Services Division completed 1000 environmental site assessments for our customers, reclaimed over 130 acres of land (this is equivalent to 65 football fields), recycled over 17 million kgs of steel and utilized pumping systems to eliminate the equivalent of 2.5M km of hauling by vehicle.

In our Processing, Recovery and Disposal Division, we recovered 13 million liters of oil from upstream oil and gas industry by-products.  We have reduced our use of freshwater by acquiring licenses to reuse leachate from our landfills.

ECO: What’s the potential for SECURE to have an effect on the economy?

SECURE: There’s a growing economy in recycling of water and oil based drilling fluids. So, beyond our workforce of over 1,000, we have proprietary knowledge that will likely become commonly used in the energy industry. When the time is right for that line of business to expand, we expect our processes and technology to reduce costs and reduce the impact on the environment for our clients while providing important jobs and results.

ECO: Can you tell us more about your trade secrets?

SECURE: Sure! When the price of oil was nearly double what it is today, we looked at a number of mechanical and chemical treating methods for produced water (water laden with chemicals that flows back from a producing well after a hydraulic fracturing operation) and drilling waste or cuttings (laden with oil and other chemicals that are typically disposed of in a an engineered landfill). Over the course of three years and with an investment of $20 million, we were able to establish an economical process that treats water so it can be reused in fracking operations, and capture the oil in the drilling wastes so it can be reused in the drilling operations.

While both of those projects were a technical success, at today’s prices for oil the producers won’t pay additional costs for these services. More and more, though, protecting the environment is becoming an everyday part of the energy industry. So, we’ll hold our IP and trade secrets close and wait for the price of oil to rebound and make our processes viable once again.

ECO: Looking ten years ahead, how do you see environmental protection affecting the economy – and your business specifically?

SECURE: Due to climate change and freshwater conservation concerns, we believe there’ll be a strengthening of environmental regulations and that will create opportunities for organizations like SECURE.

For example, the British Columbia’s Water Sustainability Act and Alberta’s Water Use Policy Framework have placed strong focus on reducing the use of freshwater. There will be a move to repurpose produced water and flow back fluids. As a receiver of these fluids, we’re exploring opportunities to repurpose these fluids for fracking operations.

We’re also participating on a number of regulatory and industry committees dedicated to freshwater conservation.

 ECO: Thank you! Is it fair to say that protecting the environment can also be, “About the economy, stupid?”

SECURE: Absolutely! And you’re welcome.

For companies like SECURE, with a desire to protect the environment and have the know-how to create new technology, legislation on reducing the environmental impact of the energy sector creates sound economic opportunities. The environment is a driver for innovation, and the economy.

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