2012 a tough year for Petrolia Discovery

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Super Storm Sandy and tough economic times made 2012 a difficult year for Petrolia Discovery.

But the chair of the board’s foundation says the work of preserving Petrolia’s oil heritage continued with the help of many dedicated volunteers.

The foundation held its annual general meeting Monday, showing the public its financial statements for 2012 and electing a new board of directors.

The foundation’s financial statements show there was a $39,721 operating deficit in 2012, up from $17,000 in 2011.

Chair Wendy Bratanek says Super Storm Sandy in November 2012 caused extensive damage to the Fitzgerald Rig – the powerhouse for the Discovery’s oil production which is its main source of revenue.

With the rig out for two months, oil revenue declined by about $10,000 according to site manager Donna McIlmoyle.

The rig was also silent for about three months in 2013, however McIlmoyle wasn’t able to say how much of a decline in oil revenue that has caused.

It also cost over $75,000 to fix the rig and its building.

“Hurricane Sandy definitely presented several challenges for Discovery and left us with another difficult journey back to full operations,” says Bratanek.

The number of visitors also declined in 2012. McIlmoyle says that was common for many tourist-based venues as people had less money and were choosing carefully where to spend it.

Bratanek says the Discovery’s board is trying to encourage groups to use the grounds for events such as corporate functions and weddings. “We want to make this facility as open as we can and get as many people as we can here,” she says.

Government grants to the Discovery also dropped dramatically from 2011, from nearly $60,000 to about $17,000. The Discovery uses the money to hire students over the summer to lead tours.

And while 2012 was a challenging year, Bratanek says Discovery was able to preserve the community’s heritage with the help of volunteers.

“What I see is the continued support and commitment of people.  They are the silent volunteers who put in time, money and dedication without ever asking anything but the best for Discovery,” she says.

“The volunteers all have a passion for this place.”

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