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Are These Cats Really That Fat?

If you’ve been around the oil and gas industry, you’ve likely heard the term “fat cats” as a stereotype for wealthy business owners. Multinational mega companies run by multimillionaires flying to meetings in private jets and vacationing on yachts in tropical locations.

While this is certainly the case in some instances (not just in oil and gas, but in all private business), did you know the majority of CAODC members are small, privately owned companies? Of our Well Servicing members, 74 are private and seven are public; of our drilling members, 29 are private and 15 are public.
Far from being fat cats, CAODC members are more likely to be working 60+ hour weeks, outside in the elements, trying to staff rigs, keep equipment up and running, please customers, and keep the doors to their businesses open. In this market, oil priced in the mid $40s (USD) means that rather than rolling in bags of cash, our members have been steadily lowering day rates for nearly 18 months in order to win business that will keep their staff employed. CAODC’s smaller member companies, with two or three rigs, a few pump trucks and some frost freezers, are struggling to find any more costs to cut. These cats weren’t fat to begin with, and right now it’s not fat being cut, it’s bone.

Our larger members (perhaps the companies many believe are run by alleged “fat cats”) have cut their salaried staff anywhere from 25% to 50% and are still cutting. Managers are sweating over decisions they know will impact people and their families as opposed to sweating on a beach in the south pacific. Many employees who haven’t lost their jobs are working at a significantly reduced salary. In fact, salaried staff members who lost their jobs and who may still be looking for work might respectfully disagree with anyone calling them a “fat cat”. Rig Technicians who have been looking for other ways to make their living, and who didn’t have a steady salary to begin with, might also take issue with the term.

The oil and gas industry in Alberta and in Canada is made up of both larger companies, and smaller companies that employ regular Canadians from all walks of life. While many have done very well financially, they have likely done so at great financial risk by borrowing money from friends, family, and financial institutions with no guarantees. In so doing, they have employed and continue to employ thousands of regular people with families to feed and bills to pay.

If anything, the vast majority of these cats are hard-working folks trying to make a decent living.

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