In February this year, Export Development Canada (EDC), the State-owned export credit agency provided C$750 million ($553 million) in emergency loans to small and medium-sized oil and gas companies in a bid to help the industry survive the current downturn.

By demonstrating a solid survival plan for the next two years, United Safety is one of the firms that EDC is supporting. The company has been at the forefront of bringing Canadian expertise in the field of health and safety by taking its innovations and value-added services to 13 oil and gas producing countries spread across the Americas, Asia, and Africa.

“We supply goods and services to major energy-producing companies around the world by providing industrial safety equipment, safety consulting and safety training for oilfields, refineries, gas plants, and power-generation facilities to ensure that the workforces and the public remain safe,” says Lee Whittaker, United Safety’s CEO, who founded the company in 1987.

Today, according to EDC, Canada’s oil and gas sector contributes an average of $17 billion to government coffers yearly and employs approximately 500,000 through direct and indirect jobs. Leveraging on their years of experience in Canada’s oil patch, some enterprising Canadian companies, such as United Safety have gained significant success in international markets.

“It is a big job to launch outside of your home country,” says Whittaker. “We launched into Vietnam first and then we broadened out in the Far East — Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines. That was all offshore work. Then we moved into Africa, and then the Middle East, and it has been a continuous march since then,” he says.

The company has called on EDC’s services for accounts receivable insurance with its foreign customers.

“The accounts receivable insurance from EDC helps the Canadian banks who support our global operations to relax a little. EDC has also helped save us from doing business with undesirable people,” Whittaker says of the assistance they received from EDC.

EDC is said to be focusing on investments aimed at boosting productivity, opening up new markets for resources, advancing technology that can help companies diversify into different industries and improving environmental sustainability. Read United Safety’s success story in full here.