Cape Bre­ton oil­field worker to play ‘him­self’ in pipeline pi­lot

North Sydney’s Mike Vick­ers fol­low­ing up oil patch suc­cess with role in Pipe Na­tion drama

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - DAVID JALA david.jala@cb­post.com @cape­bre­ton­post

SYDNEY — Mike Vick­ers got much more than he bar­gained for when he left Cape Bre­ton for the more abun­dant job op­por­tu­ni­ties in Canada’s lu­cra­tive, but volatile, oil­patch.

Af­ter head­ing west for good about 10 years ago, the former North Sydney res­i­dent had no prob­lem find­ing work, but it’s what hap­pened since then that has the 31-year-old’s head spin­ning.

“The best choice I ever made was to come west – I re­ally miss home, I re­ally miss Cape Bre­ton, but I found hap­pi­ness, a ca­reer and lots of great op­por­tu­ni­ties out here,” said Vick­ers, in a tele­phone in­ter­view from Fort McMur­ray.

“It’s been in­ter­est­ing so far, that’s for sure.”

That his life has been in­ter­est­ing is a bit of an un­der­state­ment.

Later this month, Vick­ers will be on the set of Pipe Na­tion, an in-de­vel­op­ment drama­ti­za­tion about the men and women who work on the oil and gas pipe­lines that criss-cross western Canada.

But he won’t be there just look­ing on. The grad­u­ate of Memo­rial High School is one of the lead­ing char­ac­ters in the pro­duc­tion that its cre­ators hope will be picked up by a ma­jor tele­vi­sion net­work.

Vick­ers’ orig­i­nal plans didn’t in­clude the “out west” thing. He ini­tially wanted to en­rol at Cape Bre­ton Univer­sity to be­gin stud­ies he hoped would lead to a ca­reer as an ar­chi­tect.

“By that point, I was hear­ing from friends who were al­ready out in Al­berta that they were mak­ing re­ally big money with­out any ed­u­ca­tion, so I re­con­sid­ered my op­tions,” he re­called.

“I started fly­ing back and forth for work and that lasted a cou­ple of years un­til I ended up break­ing up with a girl­friend back home and the next thing I knew I was headed back out west with noth­ing but my work bag. If we hadn’t broke up I would not have the life I have to­day.”

Sev­eral years into his stint in the oil patch, the en­ergy sec­tor fell into a slump with low oil prices re­sult­ing in the loss of count­less jobs.

It was then that Vick­ers iden­ti­fied what he called a “dis­con­nect” be­tween tech­nol­ogy and the oil and gas sec­tor.

He found there was no one place to find en­ergy in­dus­try jobs.

“Lay­offs were com­ing and be­cause I didn’t like the un­cer­tainty I started look­ing for jobs in the oil and gas sec­tor,” re­called Vick­ers.

“But then I re­al­ized I had to go to all these dif­fer­ent job site plat­forms and it was ab­so­lutely crazy – that’s when Oil­field Job Shop was born.”

Vick­ers ini­tially started the job list shar­ing site on his Face­book page. He ex­plored so­cial me­dia, com­pany web­sites and job mar­ket pages, and blogged all of oil and gas in­dus­try em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties on his own site.

Be­fore long, his ini­tia­tive be­gan at­tract­ing job seek­ers from all across North Amer­ica.

“I would make a blog post and within a cou­ple of days there would be a mil­lion hits – it was like Oh My God, this is crazy,” he said, adding that within months an Ed­mon­ton­based de­vel­op­ment team made him an of­fer he couldn’t refuse.

“They made me a great in­cen­tive. I made sure their ideas were in align with mine and that it would keep go­ing in the same di­rec­tion. We only parted ways re­cently.”

That doesn’t mean he’s fin­ished with the busi­ness. Far from it. In 2017, he launched Oil­field Now, an in­dus­try blog that has turned into a lead­ing oil and gas news web­site.

With the Cape Bre­ton na­tive mak­ing a name for him­self, it was only a mat­ter of time be­fore he came to the at­ten­tion of Raoul Bhatt, an Edmonton-based app and web­site de­vel­oper, who has big ideas for his Pipe Na­tion pro­duc­tion project.

Bhatt got in touch with Vick­ers who he saw as a pos­si­ble con­sul­tant.

“I was born and raised in Edmonton and I have al­ways known that there is a huge East Coast cul­ture and in­flu­ence out here in Al­berta, so it was im­por­tant to fea­ture him (Vick­ers) as part of in­cor­po­rat­ing the di­ver­sity of the oil and gas sec­tor through the show’s char­ac­ters,” said Bhatt, in a phone in­ter­view from the Al­berta cap­i­tal.

“We be­lieve it’s very im­por­tant to have a colour­ful and di­verse cast – the show is a drama­ti­za­tion about the peo­ple in­volved, and when I met Mike I knew he would be an ideal and long-term char­ac­ter for our show.”

For his part, Vick­ers said he reck­ons he rep­re­sents a typ­i­cal east coast Cana­dian who went west to find work and build a life. He just didn’t ex­pect his jour­ney to move in so many di­rec­tions in such a short time.

“Yeah, I guess you can say that my life has been pretty crazy since I left Nova Sco­tia,” said Vick­ers, who added that he has plenty of more ideas and plans.

“I got a lot of big things up my sleeve – but I al­ready I found my hap­pi­ness out here, I found a woman that was all about the same things I was about and who also wanted a big fam­ily, we’re grow­ing now and we have a lit­tle girl who will turn seven in Novem­ber.”

The only ques­tion is whether his young daugh­ter will grow up think­ing of her fa­ther as an oil­field worker, an on­line so­cial me­dia guru or an ac­tor.

Or maybe even some­thing else com­pletely dif­fer­ent.

CON­TRIB­UTED

North Sydney na­tive Mike Vick­ers, right, is shown dur­ing a pro­mo­tional shoot for Pipe Na­tion, a pi­lot soon to be filmed in Al­berta that fo­cuses on the oil and gas sec­tor and the peo­ple who work in it.

Raoul Bhatt

Mike Vick­ers

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