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Economy and Business

Canadian oil companies look to Ohio manufacturers
Companies invest billions of dollars to extract billions of barrels of oil.

Mark Urycki
About 90 Ohio business people and a half-dozen major Canadian oil companies meet in Independence to see what they can offer each other.
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In The Region:
There were a lot of jokes about the weather Wednesday when about 90 Ohio business officials met with representatives of a half dozen Canadian oil companies. The business-to-business forum was organized so that Ohio manufacturers might win some contracts with the companies extracting oil from northern Alberta tar sands. But as WKSU’s Mark Urycki reports, the Canadians also see some political expedience in the collaboration.
Talking oil and business

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With all the oil and gas production ramping up in Ohio’s Utica shale, local companies don’t usually think about making pipes or equipment for Alberta. But Alberta envoy David Manning says they are interested in working with Ohio companies.

"This is a very sophisticated technology-driven industrial base. The companies here know how to work in adverse climates. You have a grasp of energy issues – the Utica shale is another good example. You have a lot of energy infrastructure.”

Manning and some other representatives from Canada admit that doing business across the border will also "growing a constituency" here. And that might soften American opposition to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline  that would run from Canada to Nebraska. Pipeline owner TransCanada came to Cleveland to talk about business opportunities. Their supply chain manager, Daryl Sandquist says they’ve already bought the pipes they need for Keystone but they will be in the market for help with an even longer pipeline from Alberta to New Brunswick on the east coast.

“We’re just initiating our front-end engineering on that so we haven’t purchased any of those materials yet.”

One Ohio company that’s been supplying special pipe fittings to Canada since 1960 is Westlake-based PLIDCO. Seventy percent of their products are exported and the company just added 7,000 square feet of manufacturing space the past year to keep up with the demand.   But General Manager Kim Smith says it can be a challenge to work in the remote north country

"There’s a lot of low temperature steel, low temperature equipment, which requires some custom work which we’re not afraid of, we like to do. We’re the pioneers of the industry so we can do it. And travel, you need to travel.”

And travel often means flying to company owned airports and living in company-owned housing. Mark Duskey is with Nidec Avtron Automation Corporation in Independence which makes electric controls for large motors. He says Canada is the easiest foreign country with which to do business.

"You need to be able to provide spares, repairs or whatever it needs to be to keep their equipment running. But they don’t care where it comes from as long as it’s a quick turnaround which U-S has an advantage over China or Japan. “

Environmentalists have complained that the Alberta tar sands produce dirty oil with too much sulfur. Youngstown State Professor Clovis Linkous attended the forum because YSU may be able to offer some help with that.

“We do have patented technology that is available so in case there are opportunities that arise we hope to move that forward.  If there is an interest.”

Canada is Ohio’s largest foreign trading partner, as the Buckeye State exports more goods to the northern neighbor than the next ten countries combined. Doing business across the border may get even easier. The White House announced the next meeting with Canadian and American officials to harmonize trade regulations will be held in May, in Cleveland.

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