The past year hasn’t been kind to Western Canada’s oilpatch, but some smaller energy outfits say their international presence has been a rare bright spot.
Shortly after Blue Spark Energy started out in Calgary in 2011, CEO Todd Parker said he wondered whether to “put all our eggs in one basket here in Canada” or diversify into other markets.
The second option turned out to be a good move, said Parker.
The year after its inception, Blue Spark expanded into the U.S. It has since established a presence in Romania, Norway, Denmark, Iraq and Kuwait.
Parker said there’s been strong global interest in Blue Spark’s technology, which uses shock waves to dislodge gunk from oil wells while drawing as little electricity as a curling iron.
As a small player, it was complicated to get things going at first, he said.
“But it’s actually allowed us to ride out the storm and accelerate our growth much faster than if we had stayed within a single market.”
Parker figures about 70 to 80 per cent of Blue Spark’s revenues come from its international operations these days. He’s looking to add 10 staffers to the 30-person workforce by the end of this year — a rarity in an industry that the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors estimates has lost 100,000 jobs in the downturn.