The Energy City

The City of Estevan punches above its weight class. A small community in southeast Saskatchewan, Estevan is an energy hub with a significant economic base in the coal mining, and oil and gas sectors.

Historically, the predominant industry in Estevan has been the energy sector. With major oil and gas deposits, Estevan is at the heart of the oil boom, and is home to two coal-fired power generation stations.

“Coal mining, power generation, and the oil and gas sector are massive industries,” Michel Cyrenne, Director of Economic Development with the City of Estevan, told The Canadian Business Journal, “especially since 2008, with the launch of new technologies, as far as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, which has unlocked the oil in the Bakken [geological formation].”

Estevan has been on the receiving end of the oil boom, witnessing consecutive years of “unprecedented and record-breaking growth” over this period.

Most recently, the Government of Saskatchewan and Crown corporation SaskPower announced a joint initiative of a major clean coal and enhanced oil recovery project at the Boundary Dam Power Station. The project is a $1.2 billion investment to transform part of the plant into a carbon capture unit. Additionally, at the Shand Power Station, SaskPower has partnered with Hitachi to develop a clean coal carbon capture test facility, which will allow users to assess carbon capture technology on a larger scale.

“The Boundary Dam [project] is a world leading project that includes carbon capture, sequestration, and enhanced oil recovery,” Cyrenne explained. “They drilled the deepest well ever [in Saskatchewan], sequestering very large volumes of carbon emissions into that well site.”

The carbon emissions will then be used for enhanced oil recovery, sequestered in spent oil reserves. Cyrenne summarized, “When an oil reservoir is said to be spent, at most 10 per cent has been extracted, so now they will be able to increase the pressure within that system and extract more oil.”

Economic Priorities

As a resource-based community, Estevan offers strong and investment ready markets, and an economic environment that fosters business opportunities and encourages local business expansion.

Aside from its energy base, Estevan has a strong business presence in the hospitality and retail sectors. The city’s proximity to the United States also adds another layer of business and tourism traffic within the community.

“We have a very unique situation happening here in Estevan where we’re firing on all cylinders,” Cyrenne said. “Since the global recession started in 2008, compared to the rest of North America we’ve gone in the opposite direction. Our markets are very strong, our income levels are amongst the highest in the country, and we have one of the best investment climates in North America.

“We focus on promoting the opportunities that exist within Estevan and ensuring that the rest of the world is aware of what’s happening here. We’re working with the community to be prepared for the oncoming growth and ensuring that the existing business community is able to stay here in Estevan and grow along with the rest of the community.”

Quality of Life

Home to a population of 11,000, Estevan is a unique community. Residents of Estevan enjoy the big city offerings combined with the spirit of a small town.

From the business sector to the retail sector, Estevan offers a range of big box stores as well as small, family-owned businesses, covering all of the amenities.

Estevan also offers a wide range of recreational activities across its open space, including sports, arts, and an abundance of cultural opportunities for kids and adults alike. From fishing, to hunting, to a new hockey arena, hiking and bicycle trails for a more traveller-friendly city, Estevan has it all. Estevan is a safe, neighbourly community and an ideal home to raise a family.

Responding to the economic boom and job growth of recent years, Estevan has planned major housing developments for its new residents. The city continues to adapt to its new economic environment. As Cyrenne concluded, “We’re looking at the long-term vision of the city to establish greater direction for where we want to see Estevan going in the future.”