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    Convenience Comes to Alberta Oil Sands

    Aramark Remote Services brings c-store services to workers drilling for oil.

    EDMONTON, Alberta -- ARAMARK Remote Services has unveiled onsite convenience stores for remote camps in the Alberta oil sands, which are drilling for oil four hours north of here, the company stated. Remote Services operates five convenience stores, with a sixth currently being developed.

    "By bringing a retail experience onsite, we now provide our oil development clients with an expanded package of services to help quickly improve their employees' lifestyle and morale," Sanjiv Thapar, vice president of administration, said in a statement. "The days of wildcatter drillers living in inhospitable remote locations are long gone. Today's oil companies are looking for ways to enhance worker satisfaction, productivity and retention."

    The Aramark offering is a fully-merchandised store that stocks more than 1,000 items, according to Al Amarshi of Aramarks Remote Service's business development.

    "We created this retail experience because we understand that after a 10- to 12-hour day, workers want to relax and enjoy the comforts of home even when it's hundreds of kilometers in the bush," Amarshi said in a statement. "From the latest in electronics to books, pop, snacks and socks, we make high-quality, branded merchandise available."

    The idea for Aramark Remote Service's onsite c-store began in September 2007, and faced several logistical issues such as finding vendors committed to regular deliveries to remote sites and solving the challenges of electronic isolation of sites, the company stated.

    A satellite system allows the sites to offer an ATM, and a new register system accepts debit and credit cards, according to the company. An in-depth training program for existing camp staff teaches the skills necessary for the operation of the store, and limited hours -- 5 to 8 a.m. and 4 to 10 p.m. -- coincide with workers' shifts and keeps costs at a minimum, according to the company.

    "Our future camps will include specialized services, including movie theatres, health clubs with personal trainers, and executive-style accommodations in the most isolated locations," said Thapar. "It's just a matter of working out the logistics. Welcome to the new era of drilling."

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