Oilsands project reactivation spurs hiring activity by Korean subsidiary

A subsidiary of Korea National Oil Corp. is tripling its staff count and adding experienced executives as it reactivates its BlackGold oilsands project in northern Alberta.

Harvest Operations Corp. says it has hired former Cenovus Energy Inc. executive Paul Vander Valk as chief operating officer for oilsands and former Pengrowth Corp. executive Jim Causgrove as chief operating officer for conventional operations.

Spokesman Greg Foofat says the number of staff associated with the 10,000 barrel-per-day BlackGold project is expected to rise from 22 to 65 split between the field and at corporate offices in Calgary.

The project was placed on hold in early 2015 as oil prices plunged but was reactivated in December due to price stabilization and improved operational and financial performance of Harvest's conventional business.

Harvest reported an operating loss for the three months ended Dec. 31 of $176 million, more than double its loss of $76 million a year earlier, while production from conventional oil and gas wells fell to 25,900 barrels per day from 26,590 bpd.