DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – The combination of Seven Generations Energy and ARC Resources has the Dawson Creek mayor buzzing with anticipation over potential economic opportunities.

In a region that is heavily reliant on the natural resource industry, Mayor Dale Bumstead says this merger is good news for Dawson Creek residents.

“It solidifies some of the future of those employees and those people who are employed and reliant on the industry, as well as our small business community. That’s what builds our community,” says Bumstead.

ARC Resources operates mainly in the region surrounding Dawson Creek, while Seven Generations Energy has its operations on the other side of the border in Grande Prairie.

Bumstead says 2020 was a challenging year for the oil and gas industry, due to the uncertainty of the pandemic and low gas prices.

“We started to see the effects in that first wave of March and April, development was down, and the price of gas was really low,” says Bumstead. One sector that relies heavily on oil and gas development in the region was affected.

“From April to October, hotel occupancy in our community was running around 20 to 40 per cent. Normally, they’re going to be running from 80 to 90 per cent.”

The merger comes on the heels of an increase in the price of natural gas around the end of December, a positive sign for the industry.

“The price was increasing fairly significantly to the point where it was starting to become a viable commodity.  It used to be just natural gas liquids like propane, butane, and condensate. Now we’re starting to see some confidence in being able to reinvest and see some value in it.”

Adding to the buzz around the oil and gas industry was the announcement of $120 million from the federal government to clean up dormant well sites. Companies who wish to drill a new well need to give the province a portion of the cost, in the event the well needs to be cleaned up and the company who drilled the well is not in existence.

“50 years ago, a company drills a well, the well produces, it lives out its lifecycle, then it was closed up. The company sold its assets and moved on. So there was no policy in place by the federal or provincial governments at the time.”

The job of cleaning up dormant wells has a multi-faceted benefit to the community.

“You’re cleaning up that old stuff, cleaning the land that can maybe be put into production, you give the business community some work, and the service industry gets back to work too.”

The combined company will operate as ARC Resources, and the headquarters will remain in Calgary.