• Jamshed Merchant, center, tours a Saskatchewan coal-fired power facility. Merchant represents Canada in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska.

Jamshed Merchant, consul general of Canada, believes in the power of place. Merchant recently spoke at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference about his role as a link between the U.S., Canada and the Bakken oil play. Based out of Minneapolis, Merchant presented and attended at the event, he said, to gain face-to-face exposure with potential partners looking to understand the business intricacies and relationship between the U.S. and Canada. “What I find is that we just can’t be effective if we don’t go to the states we work in,” he said.

Although Merchant’s main role is to help Canadian firms grow, he has helped U.S. firms navigate the business climate of Canada as well, he said. He has been to Dickinson, and frequently visits the North Dakota cities of Bismarck, Fargo and Grand Forks. He hopes to add a trip to Williston later this summer, all in an effort to form stronger relationships with current or future business owners that might have questions about working with Canadian companies or even expanding into the country.

The physical climate of each country is a particular connection that makes businesses from both countries compatible, he said. “The folks in Canada have to work in the same weather conditions so the systems designed to manage those conditions are compatible,” he said, as opposed to other oilfield systems designed for Texas or Oklahoma.

Merchant’s role can widely vary. In some instances he may only answer questions for firms trying to understand the border crossing process. In other cases, he may help firms looking for gaps in a business plan. “We help companies understand if they are really ready,” he said. The majority of firms that work with Merchant and his team are small- or mid-sized companies that don’t have the staff to understand the legalities or issues related to cross border business.

Merchant represents five U.S. states as the consul general along with several industries. The oil industry is receiving a high amount of attention, however, he said. The Bakken is an integrated oil play that involves more than one state and more than one country, he said, and it is his role to help Canada remain a strong part of the Bakken’s development.
Source: The Bakken Magazine

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