CALGARY – Proceeds from the Calgary Stampede chuckwagon canvas auction are on the rise, suggesting that economic optimism in the oil and gas sector is also picking up steam as crude prices stabilize above US$60 per barrel.
A total of $3.2 million was bid Thursday for the right to advertise on 36 chuckwagons invited to participate in the Stampede’s annual GMC Rangeland Derby in July. The event is consider a bellwether for the health of the Canadian oilpatch headquartered in Calgary.
A year ago, the total came to $2.4 million, with the highest bid of $110,000 going to Kelly Sutherland in the veteran driver’s last auction before being required to retire due to the event’s age limit of 65.
This year’s top bid was $130,000 for driver Kurt Bensmiller, winner of last year’s derby, offered by sponsor Versatile Energy Services, Ltd.
The auction results are getting closer to the record year of 2012, when bidders pledged just over $4 million — the highest bid was $300,000 by oilfield services firm Tervita Corp. — at a time when oil prices were hovering above US$100 per barrel.
New York-traded West Texas Intermediate closed Thursday at US$64.30 per barrel, up from US$48.04 a year ago, but prices paid for Western Canadian Select oilsands blend hasn’t matched the increase, a situation blamed by observers on not enough export pipeline capacity.
About 80 per cent of the auction proceeds go to the drivers and the rest is used for prize money, safety initiatives and other Calgary Stampede chuckwagon initiatives.