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Northern British Columbia and Alberta's Oil and Gas Industry Vol. 1 Issue 11 • dist: 20,325

november 25 • 2011

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in this issue: • don thompson - oilman on a mission • salty waters - groundwater use • crossroads - men’s health up front ferus energy in dawson creek is under construction - brock campbell photo


2 • PIPELINE NEWS NORTH I November 2011

h t r o N William Julian Regional Manager 250-785-5631

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industry news

November 2011 I pipeline news north •



- is fracturing causing earthquakes? james waterman Pipeline News North

The rumbling in Northeast British Columbia is partly due to the earthquake activity in recent years and partly due to public concerns that those tremors are actually the result of hydraulic fracturing being done by oil and gas companies operating in the Montney formation and the Horn River Basin. The BC Oil and Gas Commission is aware of the concerns, but they don’t yet have any reason to believe that there is a correlation between fracturing and earthquakes. Their records show that a handful of small earthquakes have occurred in the vicinity of shale gas development in the Horn River Basin in the past few years. The first three of those earthquakes occurred in 2009, when fracturing in that specific area was completed. The next earthquake in that area was in June, 2010. The Commission is currently discussing the possibility of conducting additional research into the seismic activity in the region with the Pacific Geoscience Centre to determine any links between earthquakes and fracturing, which could affect regulatory changes if such a link exists. John Cassidy, an Earthquake Seismologist with Natural Resources Canada, is certain that that is an area of research that is bound to grow. “There is interest in understanding what the links are,” said Cassidy. “But I’m not aware of any detailed studies at this point in time.” “I suspect there will be some studies undertaken to understand what are the links – what are the potential links – if earthquakes are being triggered,” he continued. “How large can they be? What controls them?” Cassidy does know of one specific incident when oil and gas activity in northeast B.C. did trigger earthquakes, but they didn’t involve fracturing. “There were earthquakes being triggered by fluid injection into the ground from parts of some oil and gas fields near Fort St. John,” he said. “That was back in the nineties.” “Earthquakes started in an area where earthquakes had never occurred before,” he continued. “And so the question then was: are these natural earthquakes that are occurring, and it’s just a coincidence that they’re occurring in an area where fluids are being injected into the ground, or is there some link? And the link there was established that above a certain threshold of injection pressure, small earthquakes would be induced. In some cases, those earthquakes were being felt by people in the community.” It was determined that earthquakes would not be triggered by fluid injection if the injection pressure was kept below that threshold. B.C. is a region where earthquakes do naturally occur, but they tend to be associated with the coast, not the northeast corner of the province. However, Cas-


courtesy of

sidy explained that there is a likely relationship between coastal seismic activity and the earthquakes that have been felt in northeast region. “In general, in British Columbia, most of the earthquakes are along the west coast, and that’s where the active plate boundaries are,” said Cassidy. “The edge of the North American Plate and the beginning of the Pacific Plate. So, that’s where most of the earthquake activity is located, along the west coast. But as we move inland through the province, the seismic hazard tends to decrease. And then it picks up again a little bit in the eastern Rocky Mountains. So, what we call the fold and thrust belt of the Canadian Cordillera. And we have seen in the past significant earthquake activity in the fold and thrust belt. The largest earthquakes of that type were just north in the Northwest Territories in the Nahanni region. And there were magnitude 6.8 earthquakes in the Nahanni region in the late eighties –1988.” “We think what’s going on is that some of the stresses – some of the forces from the west coast where the

active boundaries are – are actually being transmitted through the North American Plate. And they’re finding these faults at the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains that are oriented so that these stresses from the west coast are triggering earthquakes along faults that are just in the right direction.” The result is small earthquakes throughout an area ranging from northern B.C. to the United States border. The most significant recent activity in northeast B.C. was a magnitude 5.5 earthquake just southeast of Prince George in 1986. Southeastern B.C. also experienced a magnitude 6.0 earthquake in 1918. “So, we know that earthquakes do occur, especially in that fold and thrust belt,” said Cassidy. “In British Columbia, they tend to be a bit smaller than either to the north in the Northwest Territories or to the south in the U.S.” “Down in Idaho and Montana, we see exactly the same kind of thing,” said Cassidy. “We see these thrust earthquakes, very large, at the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains.” •

4 • PIPELINE NEWS NORTH I November 2011 special feature 12 Sandman cometh - frac sand mining in the North 18 Lookin’ good - Fort Nelson Energy Expo

community 26 N.E.B. - source vs export 28 Oilmen’s hockey - it’s been a long time coming

industry news 3 Rumblings - is fracturing 4 6 7 15 24 25

causing earthquakes? Salty waters - water act & groundwater use Cool fuel - demand for liquid nitrogen increasing Dire warnings - men’s health in the oil patch Is oil & gas subsidized by government? (no) Doing it right - BC Aboriginal Business Awards AltaGas is taking over PNG

environment 19 Oilspills - who ya gonna call... WCSS 27 Cleaning up - O&G site remediation

safety 10 Crossroads - men’s health front & center

careers & training 14 Dare 2 Dream - Aboriginal youth career fair 14 Local employers meet local students 16 NLC courses for December 29 Students benefit from donated equipment

technology 30 Ditchin’ the ditch - BPC Svcs’ trenchless pipelines

profiles 8 20

Don Thompson - oilman on a mission Mr. Newlove - Enform’s new manager of BC Operations

industry news salty waters – water act & groundwater use james waterman Pipeline News North

The oil and gas industry in British Columbia is hoping that the modernization of the province’s Water Act presently underway will rectify a problem they see in how saline water from deep underground aquifers is allocated. The Horn River Basin shale gas play and its Debolt saline water aquifer are at the heart of the issue. Currently, all groundwater in B.C. is seen through the same lens, whether it is freshwater or saline water. Consequently, if a petroleum company wanting to use saline water in their hydraulic fracturing operations in Northeast B.C. hits the withdrawal threshold of 75 litres per second, that triggers a long, complicated and costly environmental impact assessment through the province’s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO). The industry views this as a disincentive to using saline water for fracturing at a time when the emphasis should be on reducing the use of surface water sources. The B.C. government released a policy proposal on the new Water Sustainability Act as part of the Water Act modernization process in December 2010 and invited feedback from stakeholders on the proposed policy directions. Groundwater regulations took centre stage in the response from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) that was submitted in February, 2011. The author of that letter was CAPP’s current Manager of Water and Reclamation, Tara Payment, who was then an Environmental and Regulatory Analyst with CAPP. The focus of the concerns she expressed around groundwater regulations was a proposed plan to require a license – which would also include additional costs – for any groundwater withdrawals over a threshold of 250 to 500 cubic metres per day in unconsolidated aquifers and 100 cubic metres per day in bedrock aquifers. It should be noted that those thresholds are far below the 75 litres per second or 6480 cubic metres per day that triggers the environmental assessment. “CAPP generally agrees with this policy direction; however, the policy should allow for a water quality standard to be used when setting these thresholds,” Payment said in the letter. CAPP’s position, as expressed by Payment in that letter, is that there should be a distinction made between saline and non-saline

groundwater. “And that saline groundwater be exempt from licensing requirements given the absence of competing water demands for this low quality water resource,” she said. “It is critical that the difference between saline and nonsaline groundwater be recognized, defined and regulated,” the letter continued. “If the policy direction were to remain as it reads today, it would have significant implications on industry’s shale gas assets in [Northeast B.C.], where industry is moving towards use of more saline groundwater in some cases as an alternative to freshwater for hydraulic fracturing. The proposed regulation of groundwater, without consideration of the distinction between saline and fresh groundwater quality, will provide a disincentive to pursue saline groundwater.” CAPP has not received a response to their comments from the government, but expects that is likely due to the unexpectedly large volume of submissions the government has received in response to the policy proposal. “What we’re referring to in this letter is the proposal to license groundwater withdrawals,” said Payment. “And that we’re in favour of. The groundwater licensing system is pretty standard across Canada. It’s a way for government to keep track of how much is being used, who’s using it, what type of water they’re using. What our point was … was not applying that requirement to saline groundwater.” A statement from a Ministry of Environment (MOE) spokesperson obtained on November 8, 2011 indicated the government is moving in the direction of distinguishing between potable and saline groundwater and exempting saline groundwater from licensing in order to encourage use of saline water by the industry. “The diversion and use of groundwater will be regulated under the proposed Water Sustainability Act,” the statement read. “This is a new policy area for B.C. It is recognized that there is an interest in having saline groundwater used by the oil and gas sector when possible to take pressure off surface water supplies. To address this interest, an exemption of saline groundwater from licensing is being explored, using the factors of depth and salinity.” “From the regulatory perspective,” it continued, “the incentive is the continued pg 5

November 2011

cont’d from pg 4 proposed exemption of saline groundwater from licensing. The implementation of this proposal and division of responsibilities among the regulating agencies requires development. The proposed exemption from licensing under the Water Sustainability Act does not change the Environmental Assessment Act’s review requirements.” If that means withdrawals of saline water exceeding 75 litres per second will still trigger an environmental assessment significant concern will remain for the industry, as companies using saline water for fracturing could easily exceed that volume. “That’s what triggers a full environmental assessment study, which can be the size of a binder,” said Payment. “And I guess the point is to see what are the cumulative effects, who else is being affected by this project, which makes sense when you’re taking a huge amount of freshwater. But when you’re talking about a huge amount of saline water, we’re the only user of it.” “And if we’re subject to the same regulations for saline as we are for fresh, what is the incentive to use a poorer quality source?” she added, noting the tremendous cost involved in using saline water, as treatment facilities are required to prepare the water for use in fracturing operations. “And just to clarify,” said Steve Dunk, BC Operations Manager for CAPP, “as far as measurement of saline [water] and reporting [use] – we’re not opposed to that. We’re just saying we’re already doing that through the [BC] Oil and Gas Commission. It seems to be working pretty well. We want to continue to do it that way. We don’t want to be following a freshwater-type groundwater monitoring scenario. We want to be able to do it the way we do it

through [Commission regulations] now, which is very similar to the way we do oil and gas measurement.” “We’re already, as an industry, getting wells authorizations to use the Debolt water,” he continued. “We’re already reporting how much we’re using. We have requirements from the Oil and Gas Commission as to how we drill for it, how we case it, how we cement it.” There are also existing regulations around withdrawal rates. “We’re saying, ‘You’ve got a strong regulatory environment for a resource that is very much like an oil and gas resource. Look at that and continue to have that one window approach for our industry,’ and we’ve been fairly consistent in our message on that,” said Dunk. However, Payment suggested that an environmental impact assessment can possibly be avoided even if the trigger to initiate that process remains in place. “While the regulations currently state an environmental assessment’s required for when you pass that threshold, there is written in that regulation as well the option [for the EAO] to wave the requirement for an [environmental assessment] if … they determine there are no adverse effects,” said Payment. “So,” she continued, “I believe that is the means that is being pursued in the meantime, in lieu of a regulation change. I think it’s pretty difficult for any regulator to change regulations without a big consultation process even if it totally makes sense. It’s difficult for them to make a change that could be perceived as just making things easier for us, when really it just doesn’t make sense.” CAPP also expressed concerns over proposed plans for formula-based instream flow assessments for both surface water and groundwater, partly because they doubt those types of assessments can apply to groundwater and partly because they don’t believe the government can use one formula for all of B.C. “If you look at the Northeast, for example, where they have what they call a

pipeline news north •


‘spring freshet’, and you’re going to get a lot of seasonal variation, it’s going to look very different than the B.C. rainforest,” said Dunk. “And a lot of these formulas are developed in the [United States],” Payment added. “And we have very different situations in Canada, where northern rivers are low flow in the winter, not in the summer like the cases in the States. So, when you apply these things to a totally different geographic area – and even Northeast B.C. is different from Victoria or whatever – you just can’t make the same assessment. If you’re trying to protect the water resource, you have to use more place-based thresholds. You have to look at all these different factors.” CAPP noted similar concerns about the Provincial Water Objectives (PWOs) discussed in the policy proposal, largely revolving around the use of vague language. “They need to be more specific,” said Payment. “Because we really didn’t know what they meant. We agree a cumulative effects assessment is important. But how are they going to do that? Who is going to gather all this data so they can set a baseline? They didn’t really spell that out in the draft.” “And it puts the regulator in a tough position when they have to apply it,” she added, suggesting the difficulty regulators such as the Commission might face interpreting such vague objectives. “It’s not that we’re against Provincial Water Objectives,” said Dunk. “It’s not that we don’t think that they’re going to do them right. It’s just that, how it was framed to us, we don’t really understand. We have difficulty seeing how they will be applied.” The government is planning to discuss draft legislation for the new Water Sustainability Act with the public in 2012. •

Dawson Co-op Petroleum





November 2011

industry news

cool fuel

- demand for liquid nitrogen increasing james waterman Pipeline News North

“Good to be lucky and lucky to be good.” That is how Joe Ladouceur, Vice President of External Affairs with Ferus, described the good timing of his company’s decision to build a new liquid nitrogen plant in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, right in the heart of natural gas industry activity in the liquids-rich Montney shale gas play. Increasing demand for liquid nitrogen used in fracturing shale formations to recover natural gas locked within the rock has Ferus poised to profit considerably from their new facility. “Part of what we were seeing in the area was definitely an increase in overall activity level,” said Ladouceur. “And that’s really the driving force behind the facility, that we knew that there was going to be a lot more demand for product. We wanted to have a plant as close as possible to where that demand is. Rather than trucking nitrogen ten, twelve, fifteen hours all the way from eastern Alberta, it just made sense to have it right there where the customers need it.” “We kind of knew it was coming,” he added. “And we were anticipating that it might move us towards a greater demand for our product. But the timing of that, to be honest, was something that we weren’t certain about. And it seems to be coming faster than we even expected.” Ladouceur explained that there are a few reasons for the increasing demand, not the least of which is the high level of industry activity in the Montney, where many companies are chasing more profitable natural gas liquids while dry natural gas prices remain below $4.00 per million cubic feet (mmcf). “Many of these new wells that are being drilled require some form of stimulation,” he said. “That’s one reason why we’re seeing an increase in demand for nitrogen.” Additionally, increasing scrutiny on water management and fracturing fluid content is encouraging producers to move to liquid nitrogen, according to Ladouceur. “There’s a couple of alternatives when you’re drilling wells into these formations,” he said. “And one of the alternatives is the use of water as opposed to using some kind of a cryogenic fluid or a hydrocarbon. And there are some issues that are happening in the area with respect to use of water and disposal of water. And so companies are finding that rather than trying to source massive quantities of water and figure out where to dispose of it, it’s much easier to use something like liquid nitrogen, which just literally dissipates back into the atmosphere after you do the frac.” Ladouceur indicated that some companies are also seeing better results with liquid nitrogen than with water or other alternatives such as carbon dioxide and propane. “Nitrogen goes down as a gas and it doesn’t create any issues with the well productivity,” he said. As far as increased scrutiny on fracturing fluid content is concerned, both the provincial government and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) announced initiatives to promote greater transparency when it comes to fracturing fluids and additives on September 8. The B.C. government is creating a searchable and publicly accessible online database of natural gas industry activity in the province – including details about fracturing fluids – that should be up and running in January, 2012. Similarly, the new set of guiding principles for hydraulic fracturing simultaneously – but coincidentally – released by CAPP also encourages disclosure of fracturing fluids and any additives used by industry. That degree of transparency may be putting extra pressure on companies to explore options that are unlikely to cause harm to the environment or their reputations. “A lot of people don’t even recognize or understand that nitrogen is just completely benign,” said Ladouceur. “It’s in the air that we breathe. And so the product that we supply is just nitrogen in a liquid form that we cool out of the air and provide. And then it goes down into the well, comes back out, and it just literally becomes part of the air again. So, it’s very benign. And you’re

Ferus’ new liquid nitrogen plant in Dawson Creek is expected to help meet the growing demand for liquid nitrogen starting this December. The product is used for hydraulic fracturing in shale gas formations. brock campbell photo

seeing a movement across North America for companies to have greater disclosure of what they’re using and to demonstrate that they can put products down the well that are safe. And when they come back out, they can safely dispose of them. And nitrogen, just because of its properties, it’s completely inert, it’s a totally benign substance, and I think companies are seeing the advantage of telling their customers and telling the general public that they’re using something that’s completely benign. So, there’s definitely a bit of movement there as well.” Another recent development that may have an impact on demand is the use of liquid nitrogen for shale oil production in the Duvernay and Cardium plays, an application that has only been explored over the past year. “Prior to that,” explained Ladouceur, “we were exclusively using nitrogen for the purposes of stimulating natural gas wells. And what’s been happening just in the last number of months is that, because of the price differential between oil and gas, companies are really looking for either liquids-rich gas or, actually, oil from shale plays. And they’re starting to recognize the benefits of fraccing and stimulating with liquid nitrogen in these types of plays as well. So, we think that between both the Duvernay and the Cardium there’s going to be increased demand for our products – liquid nitrogen, possibly even liquid carbon dioxide, depending on what the results look like in the future.” Construction on Ferus’ new liquid nitrogen facility in Dawson Creek has been completed and the plant is expected to be operational by the beginning of December. “It is in what we call the commissioning phase,” said Ladouceur. “And so the commissioning phase just involves testing it, bringing in nitrogen from another source to move through this system to make sure that everything is running properly, to test all the equipment, test the valves, the compressors, all those various things. And that process takes several weeks. And it has already begun.” Ladouceur expects the plant to be busy when it is open for business. “Right now,” he said, “we’re trucking product from our two nitrogen plants in Alberta into the area and we’re having difficulty keeping up with demand. So, we anticipate that, as soon as that plant is up and running, we’ll just transition everything over for product to move out of Dawson Creek, which means we’ll be able to provide it

much, much more quickly than we can now, just because of the distances.” Ferus has also begun work on a second Dawson Creek plant that should be ready by the spring of 2012. “It’s going to be right beside the existing one,” said Ladouceur, “but it’s going to double the capacity. Because already we have found that there’s demand from our customers far beyond what our first plant can deliver.” “Along with that,” he continued, “we’re also building an operations base there so that we’ll have a whole infrastructure in terms of logistics. Trucks, trailers, transports will be on that location as well. And that will probably have us with somewhere between 15 and 20 full time employees at that location operating that base. And that’s anticipated [to be] up and running in the summer. Summer of 2012.” Ferus continues to consider yet another facility farther north in the Horn River Basin. “We’re looking at what our customers are doing in terms of their capital budgets,” said Ladouceur. “So, most of the [exploration and production] companies will be coming out with their programs sometime between now and the end of the year. Usually, November-December is when they make their announcements. And so based on what we see in terms of their demand requirements for nitrogen over the coming months and into next year, we’ll kind of evaluate that and determine if there’s going to be enough demand for us to look to a plant up north.” Of course, Ferus will be keeping a close eye on how activity in the region changes with the recent National Energy Board decision to grant the Kitimat LNG partners a twenty year export license to ship liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the west coast. “We follow it extremely closely,” said Ladouceur. “We anticipate that as that [Kitimat export] plant gets closer,” he continued, “then we’re going to see companies starting to develop farther into the Montney play and possibly into the Horn River so they can fill those export contracts. So, it would certainly have an impact on us.” In the meantime, the liquids-rich plays will continue to drive demand for nitrogen. “The liquids-rich stuff is the main focus just because the gas prices are depressed,” said Ladouceur. “At those prices, companies are going to be hunting for the liquids-rich gas and the oil plays rather than just the pure dry gas.” •

November 2011 I pipeline news north •


dire warnings - men’s health in the oil patch james waterman Pipeline News North

Northeast British Columbia is facing serious health issues and the oil and gas industry certainly isn’t immune. That is the message from Dr Charl Badenhorst, Medical Health Officer with the Northern Health Authority. In fact, according the Badenhorst, the work and social conditions surrounding the natural gas boom in the region poses particular risks for men who toil in the patch. Firstly, the results of the most recent Statistics Canada health survey,

which they conduct every two years, revealed that the health status indicators for Northeast B.C. don’t compare favourably to the rest of the province or the rest of Canada. “So, we win all the prizes for the worst indicators in many, many facets, which includes heart disease, smoking, obesity, inactivity, teenage pregnancy, illiteracy, and I can go on and on and on,” said Badenhorst. “And for obesity rates, for young people, we have about one in four people in the young age groups are obese. And for men it’s the same.” Furthermore, the standardized mortality for the region is 1.3. “Which means that, in the Northeast, we have a thirty per cent higher chance of dying earlier compared to the rest of our peers in B.C.,” said Badenhorst. The standardized mortality rate for all of Northern Canada is 1.2, which translates to a twenty per cent higher chance of dying earlier. “We have very high rates of injuries related to work,” he continued, noting

that the oil and gas industry plays a significant role in that area. The Northeast also has high rates of deaths due to work-related injuries and chronic diseases are another significant problem in the region. “The smoking and the alcohol and obesity and inactivity and all these things add up to make chronic diseases,” said Badenhorst, adding that prolonged exposure to substances encountered in the patch likely contribute to chronic problems as well. “Chronic problems means things that need chronic medication,” he continued. “First of all, you start with lifestyle

change. If you’re a smoker, you have to stop, and we can offer support. And we provide nicotine patches and plans to help you [stop smoking].” Northern Health can also offer suggestions to improve diets, but Badenhorst suggested that the oil and gas industry has to get onboard with healthy eating initiatives. “The industry can help us provide healthy foods,” he insisted. “Like, if you go to a truck stop, instead of choosing wings, [choose] healthy salads or healthy fruits and vegetables. So, the kitchens in these places can help people

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to make the right choice.” Since chronic illnesses tend to be silent diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes, there needs to be health screenings for men. “Check your blood pressure, check your sugar, check your urine for kidney problems, and take your weight, look at your waist circumference,” said Badenhorst. “And that kind of work we can do in camps,” he added. According to Badenhorst, the camps are part of the issue. They are temporary homes to large numbers of workers and are situated in remote areas, meaning that many men are far from public health services for a considerable amount of time. “The companies can work with public health and make access easier to bring public health closer to the workers,” Badenhorst suggested. “So, they take primary healthcare to the patients and not wait for them to see us.” “Another thing is that, with the influx of people into certain areas, that isn’t followed by funding to support that community,” he continued. “So, the community must figure out how to survive with this mob of new health needs in a community.”

The influx of people into resource towns like Fort St. John is also part of the social conditions surrounding the patch that creates health risks for men in the industry.

“The problem is that, with the rapid expanding of the oil and gas industry, a lot of people come to this area as migrant workers,” Badenhorst explained. “Some stay. Some go back. And so on. So, they bring with them good and bad things. And if you look at substance abuse, drug use, and so on, we have a huge problem. Also, if you look at infectious diseases like Chlamydia – sexually related diseases – we have very, very high rates.” The concern for Badenhorst is that the conditions that have led to high rates of Chlamydia in the region could also lead to high rates of other sexually translated infections (STIs) such as syphilis, hepatitis C and HIV. “We’ve also learned that there’s a lot of women in town who have three or four boyfriends,” said Badenhorst. “And the different boyfriends don’t know about this. And the girls are infected with Chlamydia and other diseases, and they spread it.” “If you have an STI,” he continued, “you have some symptoms. You have some discharge or itchiness. Or there will be something. Sometimes they are carriers with no symptoms. But the point is, with Chlamydia, if you get treated, that should be reported to public health, and then the contacts should be followed up and they must be treated. Number one, if you use a condom, you won’t get Chlamydia. If you do the right things, you won’t get it. That’s the safe thing to do.” Substance abuse is another part of the equation. “They play hard and then they work hard,” said Badenhorst. “So, when they come to town with a lot of money, they blow three or four thousand dollars in a weekend on cocaine.” Drug paraphernalia such as pipes and needles – even implements used to snort cocaine – significantly contribute to the spread of hepatitis C and HIV. Northern Health is looking into methods to reverse these patterns, because it is obvious to them that serious work must be done. “All these things tell us that there’s a health need and that the current services do not meet the health needs,” said Badenhorst. •

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November 2011

profiles don thompson - oilman on a mission james waterman Pipeline News North

Few people have spent more time talking about Canada’s oil sands industry than Don Thompson. After all, he strongly believes it is an industry well worth discussing. As President of the Oil Sands Development Group (OSDG), Thompson spent the past threes years traveling from community to community across North America to talk about the benefits of an industry that has been his professional home for almost 33 years. Recently, he has taken his passion for the oil sands and its story to a new role as Executive Advisor for Sustainability and Oil Sands Outreach with Canadian Oil Sands. “Canadian Oil Sands is the largest owner of Syncrude,” said Thompson, explaining his new position. “And so Canadian Oil Sands is committed to maintaining an open dialogue about the oil sands. So, my role is to talk about what the industry is doing, with a focus on Syncrude, to address the impacts from its operations as part of that larger discussion about the oil sands. I think – Canadian

Oil Sands thinks – that Syncrude’s story and the industry’s story is one worth telling and telling often.” It is also a story in which Thompson has played a role since the seventies, when he first went to work for Syncrude, bringing along a background in zoology, which he studied at the University of Alberta, and forestry, which he studied at the University of Toronto, earning a Master’s degree. “In those days, the oil sands were seen as quite a challenge,” said Thompson, describing his decision to join in the industry during its infancy. “They weren’t the cornerstone of the economy or cornerstone of energy security that they are today. They were seen as a pretty tough challenge. And when you’re young, you’re up for a challenge. So, I was attracted by the tremendous potential of the oil sands and by all the challenges that had to be overcome to fulfill the promise that I saw.” “When I joined Syncrude,” he continued, “I was, in fact, in charge of environmental communications, which is kind of an interesting thing given what I’m doing now. I had spent some time as an environmental consultant. And one of my first jobs was to update Syncrude’s environmental impact assessment and then communicate all the things that we were doing, with respect to mitigating environmental concerns, to the public. So, I published many scientific

studies that had been authored by Syncrude and various people working for it. I published environmental communications, newsletters, brochures and the like. And that goes back to 1979.” One thing that Thompson learned during his time as a communications professional with Syncrude was that the oil sands industry was lacking in one key area: communicating. The problem was that, until the mid-nineties, the main focus of the industry was actually building the industry. It was a period of industrial innovation, which included improving the environmental performance of the industry, but few people were hearing that story. “Back in those days,” said Thompson, recalling his early years in the industry, “we did not have large areas that were ready to reclaim. We’d only just begun. And so, obviously, you can’t reclaim a mine until you’re finished and backfilled it. So, we also had a tremendous focus on things like reclamation research [on] small plots and reclamation planning in order to get ready for the large scale reclamation we knew was coming. We also did a lot of research on air and water and other areas.” By the mid-nineties, the industry was at a point where it was what Thompson refers to as “investable.” “And so then the next phase was to go around the world and attract billions of dollars of capital,” he continued. continued pg 9

November 2011 I pipeline news north •

cont’d from pg 8 “So, Syncrude was able to convince its owners that a course of expansion was the proper path for the company. And we set upon large expansions.” That eventually necessitated the move to the Aurora North Mine, which meant that Syncrude had to develop methods of mining remotely, such as low energy extraction. “So, low energy extraction and some of the other enabling technologies were pioneered in those days,” he said. “And what they did was actually make quite a contribution to things like reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” “While we were busy building an industry,” Thompson continued, “there were people in the world who were busy preparing for or demanding that the world move beyond oil. And one of the things that we didn’t do a good job of while we were building the industry was, in fact, communicating all our successes. We were pretty busy creating jobs, creating economic benefits, creating energy security, but we didn’t put enough effort into communicating all our successes.” A message heard loud and clear during speeches by CBC personality Rex Murphy and Ethical Oil author Ezra Levant, at the BC Oil and Gas Conference in Fort Nelson this September, was that the industry as a whole suffers from a failure to communicate its successes. “I think that’s a fair comment,” Thompson agreed. “And, in my mind, reputation has got two components to it. One is, of course, your performance. You have to have a solid performance. But the second part is you have to communicate it. Because it doesn’t do you any good to have successes and good performance and new technologies and all that stuff if nobody knows about it. And that’s the piece we forgot. “So, what happened was our opponents, they got quite a head start on us, to be quite frank. And we find ourselves now in a bit of a reputational hole, not so much because we haven’t got the performance to talk about, but because we haven’t [talked about it].” Thompson is endeavouring to change that course through his numerous speaking engagements and media interviews. “I talk specifically about the economic contributions of the industry,” he said. “I talk specifically about the fact that, were it not for oil sands, Canada would probably be an oil importing country, not an exporting country, with whatever implications that might have on our security of supply and the like. And then I talk about the ways we are going about land, air, water protection. And the results that we have had.” One of those results has been a 29 per cent per barrel decrease in greenhouse gas emissions by the industry since 1990. Interestingly, Thompson remarked that oil extraction is responsible for just 20 per

cent of greenhouse gas emissions from every barrel of oil in North America. The remaining 80 per cent is from consumption of that oil. “Now that doesn’t absolve the oil sands or the energy industry from having responsibility for its emissions,” Thompson added. “I talk about water use,” he continued. “And one per cent of the Athabasca River is what is currently allocated. And that supplies an industry that produces seventy per cent of Canada’s crude oil demand. So, there’s a balance there. “We use water, but frankly, we use water well within the capability of the system to provide it. And actually at quite low amounts relative to the supply. And then I talk about things like land reclamation and how much land actually is reclaimed versus how much is disturbed and comparisons to other land uses.” “Vast areas of Canada have been devoted to agriculture. And, of course, that’s fine. We need food. Vast areas of Canada have been devoted to building houses and roads and things that we also need. And, yes, some portion of Canada has been devoted to providing energy.” Thompson also speaks about areas that still need improvement and research that is being done to accomplish those goals. Presently, research being done by Syncrude is looking into reclaiming fens, wetland habitats that are common in the boreal forest where oil sands activity takes place. “Some people have said, ‘Well, okay, you can reclaim uplands and forests and the like, but you are not replacing the wetlands,’” said Thompson. “So, we’ve taken on the challenge of building a pilot reclaimed fen. So, there’s an example of continuing to press the envelope on reclamation technology. And I think it will stand as one of the many contributions. Boreal forest reclamation technology has been greatly advanced by the oil sands companies.” Through his work with OSDG and now Canadian Oil Sands, Thompson is becoming a fairly visible face of the industry at a time when the industry is receiving a great deal of negative attention. Recent protests against TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, that would transport oil sands oil to Texas refineries, have featured various celebrities. The European Union is threatening to classify oil sands oil as “dirty.” “I put it into context,” said Thompson, discussing how he copes with the negative attention. “People are advocating for their position. And one of the things we value as a country, of course, is free speech and free expression. So, you have to be prepared to listen to other people’s points of view. I don’t get all defensive. What I try to do is respond by pointing out the facts as I see them. “And as long as the dialogue is predicated on fact and not rhetoric and innuendo, and as long as people enter the dialogue


Don Thompson, a veteran of Syncrude and the Oil Sands Development Group, has taken on a new role discussing the oil sands with the public as Executive Advisor for Sustainability and Oil Sands Outreach with Canadian Oil Sands. Photo courtesy of Canadian Oil Sands.

honestly and prepared to listen to other people’s point of view, then we have nothing to fear from that. Because I believe that our story is one that most people will understand and agree with. “You have to find the balance. I guess this is one of my other messages. The balance is between, of course, the economic contributions and the energy security, both of which are pretty important, especially today, and, of course, the need to protect the environment. And my belief is the oil sands has done a credible job in finding that balance.” However, a lot of the discussion around the positives of the oil sands seems to add to the controversy surrounding the industry, especially when it comes to the rhetoric of Ezra Levant and the opinions of Patrick Moore, whose motives have been questioned by his former Greenpeace colleagues. “I don’t tend to talk about what others are not doing,” said Thompson, “I talk about what we are doing. But, on the other hand, I believe Canada’s record for environmental protection and support for

peace and treatment of workers and human rights and those kinds of things are amongst the best in the world. “And I think that if you were a consumer in Canada or the United States, and you pull up to a gas pump that says oil from Canada’ on it or an alternate gas pump that says oil from one of those other countries, most people are going to pick the Canadian oil. And that’s what I’d pick. And I guess that’s the way I look at it. I don’t talk about what other countries don’t do. I focus on why our record is solid.” “When you boil it all down, the simple, fundamental fact is, even while we are slowly evolving towards more and more renewable sources of energy, the fact is, right now, today, our lifestyle demands liquid hydrocarbon fuels. “You imagine North America for two days without diesel fuel – it would be an enormous, complete civil crisis. So, the point is not whether you need oil or not – the point is where do you get it. And my point is, if not from Canada, then from where? And, again, I go back to that gas pump. Which one would you drive up to?” •



November 2011



-men’s health front & center james waterman Pipeline News North

Men’s health took centre stage at the 2011 CrossRoads Conference held in Prince George, British Columbia on October 24 and 25. As RoadHealth Coordinator MaryAnne Arcand explained, the transport industry has an aging workforce with an average age of 56 years old. Consequently, agerelated health issues are becoming an increasingly significant factor in injuries and accidents experienced by those who work in the sector. “What we’ve been hearing more and more around crashes and injuries is guys having heart attacks or strokes or other medical issues,” said Arcand, noting arthritis, diabetes and high blood pressure among those concerns. “And so part of the focus was to showcase Northern Health’s new men’s health initiative that is targeting those things,” she continued. “And then how does that make the connection to road safety.” Nutrition is a key issue, particularly as it relates to fatigue. Arcand noted that many drivers routinely consume meals full of sugar and sodium, and wash it all down with an energy drink, when they are on the road. When the effects of the sugar and the energy drink wear off a short time afterward, drivers become fatigued and their performance is impaired. Discussing that problem at the conference was only a first step, according to Arcand. “We’re also going to do a research project on food and eating,” she said, adding that she hopes medical and research students from the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) will get involved. “[The] RCMP has lots of crash data of where crashes happen,” she continued. “And what they’re anecdotally saying is that, usually, on the long stretches of highway, somewhere between 40 minutes and an hour after a larger community that’s got fast food, they see crashes. And they suspect it has to do with a guy bulks up on a Coke and a burger and fries and has that sugar high. And then he crashes and it makes you sleepy. And so we want to say, okay, let’s take a look at that data. Is that true? Is there actually a correlation there between the eating on the road and crashes?” If a correlation can be confirmed, the next step would be to launch a public awareness campaign and work with the convenience stores, truck stops and fast food restaurants on providing healthier choices to their clientele. “Northern Health was telling me that they’re working now with the 7-Elevens and the Mac’s stores to have healthier choices,” said Arcand. “I don’t know if you’ve ever been in the [convenience store] at Chetwynd at six o’clock in the morning. All those guys are there heading out to Tumbler [Ridge] and the Noel and out that way, and they’re loading up with packs of Red Bull, pizza and fried chicken. And that’s going to be their food for the next 24 hours. Because there’s not really any healthy alternatives there. It’s just all grab and go. So, let’s make

healthier stuff easier to grab and go.” Obviously, this sort of diet is also contributing to things like diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure and cholesterol that are among the chief health concerns for men in the transport industry. “Apparently, there’s more heart attacks in the trucking industry than there is traffic accidents and deaths,” said Rick Newlove, who attended the conference as one of his first official acts as the new Manager of BC Operations with Enform, the safety association for the upstream petroleum industry in Canada. “That’s a huge statistic that needs to be considered. So, just to take that typical culture of working people very hard and not promoting the actual health of that employee is a big change.” The conference shed light on the fact that many men in the industry simply don’t know if they have a condition that requires treatment because they don’t seek proper healthcare, even when they do feel ill. “It will go away,” said Arcand, describing the typical attitude of men in the industry. “I’ll just sleep it off, drink it off, whatever. And I’m not going to the doctor. I’m not going to sit there.” The reason men don’t seek health care is partly due to the nature of their job, where they work long hours out of town, and partly because the healthcare system isn’t designed with men in mind. “You’ve got one walk-in clinic on a Saturday if you’ve got the one day off,” explained Arcand. “And it’s full of people with crying babies and sniffling and signs about breastfeeding. What guy would want to sit there, right? And then most of the healthcare givers these days are female. There’s all kinds of psychological things about what they’re going to disclose, what they’re going to say, how they’re going to interact. And so there’s all kinds of barriers to men looking after themselves.” Consequently, the conference included onsite health screening for common issues such as blood pressure, blood sugar and blood cholesterol. “Within five minutes,” said Arcand, “they could tell you where you were at with that and whether you need to change your diet. And suggestions of what you could do instead of [your] doctor says to [you], your blood pressure’s too high, your cholesterol’s too high, and you need to lose weight. That’s not very helpful.” Again, many of the suggestions were around diet and nutrition. “The whole process took ten minutes,” she continued. “And this is something you could bring into a workplace, because then guys don’t have to go to a clinic and then wait ten days to get the results. It’s right there, right now. And as it happened, 100 per cent of the conference attendees over the two days got screened. And they did send three people to … the doctor right away because some of the numbers were way, way, way over the safe limits. And those people were surprised and said, ‘I never would have thought. I never would have gone.’ And so that’s the whole point, is bringing that awareness. And how’s that going to affect your job performance? How’s that going to affect your safety?

Left to right: Golden Apple Award recipients Dr David Bowering, Northern Health; Inspector Eric Brewer, RCMP; Tom Pawlowski, BC Coroner’s Service; Tom Jackson, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations; Ivor Mariott, Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement; Kevin Bennett, WorkSafeBC; Rick Walters, BC Forest Safety Council; Diana Pozer, ICBC. Photo courtesy of RoadHealth.

How’s that going to affect your decisions not to take risks?” “It definitely opened my eyes towards trying to change the culture of health,” said Newlove. “But many of the [men in] the trucking industry are not traditionally the most fit individuals, because they spend a lot of time behind the wheel, not a lot of physical exercise. So, promoting the health portion of that is a key part in trying to keep those people on the roads. Class 1 drivers – one of the more needed occupations in not only the oil and gas industry, but also the forest sector and several of the other sectors. So, we need to promote a healthy environment, especially for those new people that come into the sector before they get into the health problems.” The conference didn’t only focus on physical health, but also mental and emotional well-being, particularly when it comes to risk-taking behaviour. “A lot of it has to do with being overstressed and over-stimulated,” said Arcand. “So, a lot of these guys, their fatigue kicks in because of the hours they keep. And there’s so much going on, so much you have to watch for all the time – [the] interface with the public when you’re driving a big vehicle down the road and that kind of thing – that you tend to start mentally blocking out different things so that you can try and concentrate. Either that or you lose your concentration, because you’re looking at all the other stuff. So, we had a professional race car driver trainer talking about the psychology of focusing and how you make people think and how people react when they’re under stress or they’re getting to a panic situation.” That trainer was Alan Sidorov, a former Formula 1 driver racing coach, who now resides in Whistler, B.C. and coaches professional race car drivers. “They have to have split-second reaction times and the utmost concentration when you’re flying down the track,” said Arcand. “And where do you focus your eyes? Where do you focus your hands? Where do you focus your energy? How do you blank your mind from everything else except concentrating on the driving? And those kinds of things. It was really quite a graphic and interesting conversa-

tion that came out of that one.” Arcand admitted that the industry can promote risk-taking behaviour just by virtue of the fact that men who spend a lot of time on the road become eager to get home to their families and start cutting corners. “That’s a big part of it,” she said. “And there’s an eagerness to get that next load, make the money, because our seasons are short in the natural resource industries. You get the hundred days of hell in the patch. And we’ve got a pretty short season in logging. And you’ve got to capitalize your equipment and your people to do a year’s worth of income and business in four or five months. And so the push is on. And so there’s that. Then the flipside of it is guys that are in camps. So, it’s not so much of a push while they’re at work, but they’ve only got a week off and they’ve got to travel to wherever to get home. And, unfortunately, we see a disproportionate amount of crashes and injuries at that time.” “The other thing we talked about in that conversation was a concept called ‘risk homeostasis’,” Arcand continued. “Homeostasis is the nature of an organism to go back to what it knows. So, go back to what was normal for it. So, even when we do training about safety and about risk, over time that will degrade and [people] go back to what they believe is an acceptable amount of risk. Now given that forestry, oil and gas, mining industries are, by nature of the work we do, already higher risk occupations, risk homeostasis is much higher. And so part of what we’re trying to do in the industry is change that culture to lower the acceptable level of risk. But a person eventually will go back to what they believe is okay. And a lot of that is predicated on experience.” “What we’re seeing in stats is that it’s actually older guys that are getting hurt more than the younger guys,” she added. The health and safety conversation also included discussion of the risk of striking animals on the highway, particularly the deer, elk, moose, stone sheep and wood bison found throughout Northeast B.C. “The best advice is to hit it rather than continued pg 11

November 2011 I pipeline news north •


Inspector Eric Brewer (bottom right), Sgt Gord Flewelling (bottom left) and Sgt Pat McTiernan (top right) of the RCMP all received Road Safety Champion awards along with Dr David Bowering (top left), Medical Health Officer for Northern Health, during the Crossroads Conference. Photos courtesy of RoadHealth.

cont’d from pg 10 try to put your rig in the ditch to avoid it,” said Arcand. “But a buffalo you don’t move too easy. And they like sleeping on the road up there.” “And this is the time of the year, in the fall, when they’re in the rut,” she continued, referring to the moose. “Then later on in the winter, when the snow gets deep and it’s easier to browse along the side of the road where the road is plowed, the bison, they like to sleep on the road up in Liard there because, again, the pavement warms from the day and it’s not as hard to move around. But they’re black. And it’s dark most of the time. So, there’s some pretty big issues there.” The CrossRoads Conference left Newlove wondering about the role Enform might be able to play in addressing those health and safety issues for drivers involved with the oil and gas industry. “I’m new at the role here, but I think probably what I can do is bring that back to our manager meeting at Enform and find out, number one, whether they are working toward looking at that kind of aspect as a portion to promote safety,” said Newlove. “I’m not aware of anything right now,” he added. “And then determine whether that is something we should be examining.” Drivers working in the oil and gas industry could move to other sectors. So,

Enform possibly has an opportunity to positively impact the transportation industry as a whole. “I would say that’s definitely a high potential,” said Newlove. “I think our sector has some of the more difficult terrain to be able to drive a truck on. And industry recognizes that. So, a lot of times they put a lot of extra effort into training of the drivers to be able to work in the oilfield and to ensure they’re safe.” “I think the key is health is very important in your work,” he continued. “Obviously, the more healthy you are, the more positive outlook you have, the more energy you can actually put to the task at hand. “You’re probably going to deal with less fatigue while you’re driving if you’re healthy while you’re doing it. It also talked about eating properly before you actually get in behind the wheel. And preparing your mindset even before you get there. “So, if you eat the proper healthy diet before you actually get behind the wheel, you’re going to be more alert, more awake, and you’re going to have a lot longer span of being aware and safe.” “So, it’s changing the culture primarily for the industry itself. Because, unless the industry changes its culture towards drivers to ensure that they are healthy and productive, it’s going to be very difficult to change it from the ground up.” •

Working with industry to help eliminate work-related incidents and injuries Established by industry for industry, Enform helps companies achieve their safety goals through professional training, audit services and expert resources. Our vision is no work-related incidents or injuries in the upstream oil and gas industry. Contact Enform today for more information.

Email Fort St. John 250.785.6009 Toll-free 1.855.436.3676


November 2011

special feature

sandman cometh

- frac sand mining in the North james waterman Pipeline News North

It is well known that the great distances from traditional markets for selling natural gas have always been a concern for producers operating in the Horn River Basin. However, distance from market isn’t only an issue when it comes to distributing that resource, but also when it comes to acquiring another resource vitally important to natural gas production in the shale gas play. That resource is the sand used as a proppant during hydraulic fracturing. That could all be changing. The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) has received a few applications for small quarries in the Dazo Creek area near Fort Nelson that are expected to produce frac sand. Stikine Energy has also been working toward developing a much larger mining operation farther north in the Liard Basin since 2009. That mine could provide frac sand for the full lifetime of natural gas production in the region. “What’s really interesting about this deposit is that it’s massive,” said Scott Broughton, President and CEO of Stikine, discussing the sandstone outcropping known as Nonda that runs for about fifteen kilometres in the Liard area. Stikine plans to turn a portion of that sandstone into frac sand, employing an unconventional process appropriate for a region where unconventional gas production is actually becoming conventional. “The key thing to realize about our story is that most frac sand production comes from what I’ll call granular or liberated sand deposits,” said Broughton. “So, that would be like a beach or a sand dune where you can pick up the sand and look at the grains individually already. What we realize is that, because of our glacial history in the northern part of B.C., there aren’t a lot of good deposits of clean sand like that up there. And even in Alberta. They’re very hard to find. So, the result is, it’s hard to imagine putting together a project on just that kind of a resource. And even trying to find it is even more difficult. So, what we focused on was other raw material sources like sandstone, which are really just clean, high purity quartz grains of sand that are fused together – cemented together in some cases – to make a rock.” “We’re mining very high purity quartz deposits that are averaging 99 per cent silica,” he continued. “A very large percentage of the grains of sand that are in those rocks fall in the commercial size of the frac sand. And our job, really, simply is to liberate those grains without damaging too many of them and then sort them into the materials that the industry wants. And that’s a little bit different than most

frac sand mines. We are having something that looks like a quarry. There’ll be drilling and blasting there. There’ll be crushing plants. And then we do this process of liberating the grains. Most other frac sand mines just dig up sand and trying to clean it up and make it into a nice product.” Broughton admits that Stikine made a mistake when they published an image on their website illustrating the size of that sandstone outcropping, because that gave the impression that they intended to mine that entire section of land, which isn’t the case. “You have to go back to the context of the size of the market,” said Broughton. “We estimate right now, as a base case, that the Horn River Basin might use a million tonnes – that kind of range – a year in frac sand. And they might need that for 25 years. And in real terms, that’s only 25 million tonnes. I just described to you a deposit that’s got billions of tonnes in it.” So, the resource required is a small percentage of the resource available, which is similar to another deposit known as Angus that Stikine is planning to develop for the Montney natural gas region of B.C. “We actually have some flexibility in terms of where we start to dig,” he added. “We don’t have to dig in one specific spot. We can move things around to accommodate potential impacts or other disturbances that we wouldn’t want to make.” The Fort Nelson First Nation has concerns about what those impacts might be both in terms of the natural environment and the cultural significance of that area of their traditional territory. “Obviously caribou habitat,” said Lana Lowe, Director of the Fort Nelson First Nation Lands Department, discussing the Nonda region. “It’s a high ridge with lichen, which they rely on to get them through the winter months. And when we went on our tour, the pilot was really cautious and aware that there’s caribou in the area, and was flying really high until we had to land. And then when we landed, he saw one at the last minute and almost landed on it. Because it was just laying there, and then it got up and ran.” According to Lowe, she was informed by a Stikine representative that that ridge wasn’t important caribou habitat. “On our way up, before we saw the caribou, he tried to tell us that the habitat is actually the next ridge over, which doesn’t even make sense,” she said. “So, it’s caribou habitat. We saw evidence of that. We knew it before we saw it.” Broughton insists that his company has done a great deal of work to ensure that the project won’t adversely impact caribou in the region. “One of the very, very first issues that was raised to us was that part of the

project area is a part of a larger mountain range called Caribou Range,” he said. “There’s a herd there called the Liard Plateau herd. It’s been really poorly studied, I suggest, by both the British Columbia and Yukon government, although there’s general knowledge that there is a herd there. It seems like it’s suffering the same consequence that many other herds are in Canada and that is that it’s in decline. We were disturbed, I have to admit, that the province had committed very little resources to actually understanding and assessing that herd. And because it was imperative on us to show that we weren’t going to impact them in a negative way, we commenced quite a bit of study on them.” Stikine collared about 30 caribou approximately nine months ago and they are currently monitoring those animals by satellite or radio. “And we also do regular counts of herd populations there,” he added. “So, I’d suggest Stikine is really the first entity, be it private company, public company or government agency, that’s really focused on studying a herd which is in a relatively remote place. And the knowledge we’re amassing, we’re immediately sharing with the government agencies. They’re part of our program. We’re funding it all. We’re sharing the information with First Nations as we go forward as well. We need everybody to understand all of the issues before we put together the application that we want to put together.” “It’s imperative on us to basically acquire as much baseline data as we can,” Broughton continued. “So, in addition to the caribou study that we’ve done, we’ve done other wildlife studies. We do monthly water quality studies. We have a weather station there. We’re acquiring information at a site where no one ever has had … a focus before from an industrial point of view. And then we’re going to supplement that, obviously, with traditional knowledge as well as we go forward. So, the best we can do, obviously, at the time that we file an application, is use the information we have and try to assess the impacts the project might have.” Broughton recognizes that a mine, by its very nature, is going to have an environmental footprint, but he also emphasizes that this frac sand mine won’t present the same hazards as other mining operations in terms of harmful metals or chemicals. “There is, like most mines, a stream that we’re going to describe as a waste stream,” he said. “There is a quartz product that is very, very fine. Finer than the frac sand that the market’s looking for. And that material, right now, we don’t see a market for. So, there’s the possibility that it could be used in making glass or some continued pg 13

November 2011 I pipeline news north •


cont’d from pg 12

other products in the future. But, right now, we’re just assuming that we sell the frac sand products. “So, about roughly forty per cent of the material that we mine needs to remain at the site in the form of what most people would call a tailings facility. And, again, one of the great advantages of the size of these deposits and how we can mine them is that we can develop a series of open pits. And instead of building tailings dams, we’re going to use those pits as places for tailings. And backfill tailings into them. So, what you’ll see over the life of these mines … is essentially a small footprint where we reclaim and close pits as we go through the mine life.” Mark Salkeld, President of the Petroleum Services Association of Canada (PSAC), is excited about the potential economic and logistical value of frac sand mines in Northeast B.C., but he is also serious about the ecological concerns. “Certainly, a huge percentage of the frac sand used comes out of the U.S.,” said Salkeld. “Like the rail cars are just chockablock full bringing it in. … So, if we can find it north, certainly it shifts the money being spent. And we’re talking millions and millions of dollars every week in trainloads of frac sand coming from the U.S.” “I like the whole idea … because it will create jobs,” he continued. “And the economics are in favour of improving the productivity and the exploration in our neck of the woods. Wells that weren’t economical because of the cost of getting sand in from the U.S. or whatever, or getting it trucked up there, could now become economical.” Indeed, combined with a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal at Kitimat – that is one step closer to becoming a reality now that the National Energy Board (NEB) has granted the Kitimat LNG partners a twenty year export license – frac sand mines in the area could make the Horn River Basin far more economical than ever before. “Economics is only one piece of it,” said Salkeld. “You’ve got to respect that,” he said of the environment of the region. “I lived up in Fort St. John for three years. And I was operations manager and had rigs up in Fort Nelson. And even had rigs in the early days up in the Horn River. And traveled that country lots. And worked Mile 496 on the Alaska Highway when I was a kid. You have to have respect for the environment and the country. There’s no doubt about it. You don’t want to do things that are going to take away from that.” Lowe’s biggest concern with Nonda is the 130 kilometre road that the project will require, which is expected to extend through area that has previously been free from industrial activity. “Everything north of Fort Nelson, from my point of view, is muskeg,” said Broughton, starting to discuss the proposed road and the challenges companies face trying to access remote northeast locations in the province. “It’s a pretty tough area,” he continued. “And the oil and gas companies that are building resource roads there now suffer from those kinds of conditions. And they’re paying a lot of money to build roads. But it’s not like it’s outside the realm of being done.” Broughton noted that Stikine is trying to minimize the impact from building the road, but also remarked that it does have to be a high quality road for the project to be successful. “What we’ve tried to do is overlay it on top of existing winter roads and other disturbances – seismic lines and that kind of thing – to minimize the new footprint,” he said. “But, in reality, we want to move big


trucks and large volumes of material. So, we’re going to be essentially constructing a very high quality road for a long length. And there’s several major bridges … that would need to be put in place too. So, it’s not without its challenges. But, really, the fact that we’re looking at that points to the tremendous value in these Nonda rocks. They’re really unique. They don’t occur everywhere.” The quality of the resource should make building the road feasible in terms of cost, according to Broughton. That could be good news for producers looking for frac sand closer to their Horn River Basin operations and new access points to the emerging Liard natural gas play, but it isn’t such good news for Lowe and the Fort Nelson First Nation. “The road goes through the Nelson Forks homeland,” said Lowe. “There’s three village sites in the area. Nelson Forks, Francois and Pretty Hill. Those are all historic villages. My Mom was born at Francois. My grandma was born up the creek from there.” “So, we’re concerned about that,” she added. “Opening up the area. All the environmental damage it’s going to do.” Lowe has similar concerns about the proposed frac sand mines in the Dazo Creek area, as well as the provincial government’s approach to managing the resource in that area. “It’s in our Fontas-Kantah homeland area,” said Lowe. “Between two villages. The Fontas and Kantah villages, obviously. And it’s, again, caribou habitat. It’s pine ridge

with the winter lichen. And it’s huge. It’s like eleven kilometres. And four different companies have dibs on it right now. And they conveniently have scoped their annual tonnage to be below the trigger point for an environ mental assessment. The trigger point is 250,000 tonnes per year. Two of them are scoped at 240,000. The other one’s scoped at 249,000.” “And the bad thing about this is that the government knew,” she continued. “They did a study back in 2010. They knew that the deposit was there. They marketed it to industry. And now they’re all surprised and saying that we can’t scope it as one deposit because four different companies have applied for it. Four different applications So, in my opinion, they should have done the [environmental assessment] when they knew the deposit was there and then market it out.” According to an FLNRO spokesperson, the province did conduct a geological study of the area and make those results known, but didn’t specifically market the resource as a location to develop frac sand mines. That spokesperson also remarked that, due to the complexity of the applications – and the fact that this is essentially the dawn of the frac sand mining industry in B.C. – the government is taking its time and considering all the factors. As for Lowe’s specific concern about the environmental assessment process, the spokesperson noted that the province can’t force separate companies into one environmental assessment. •


November 2011

careers & training dare 2 dream - Aboriginal youth career fair

Brianne Zwambag Photo

D’Ari from Canadian pop-rock band Nine Mile signs autographs for students at the 6th annual Dare 2 Dream Aboriginal Youth Career Fair. Students were encouraged to seek answers to questions they may have concerning a variety of career opportunities related to oil and gas and other trades.

brianne zwambag Staff Writer

A challenge was issued to 210 Aboriginal and Metis youth who attended the 6th annual Dare 2 Dream Aboriginal Youth Career Fair on Oct. 6 at the North Peace Cultural Centre – and that challenge was to ‘follow their dreams’. Organized by the North East Native Advancing Society (NENAS), the career fair featured motivational speakers, local employers and educational institutions and performers that had the kids on their feet. “We’re trying to get them to think and look at education in a more serious way and to take the time and put in the effort now to look at different opportunities,” said Audrey Sam, Executive Director of NENAS. The students, from 12 to 17 years in age, spent much of their day at a career fair that featured 15 local employers, service providers and educational institutes. Among them were the City of Fort St John, Flint Energy, BC Hydro, Northern Lights College, the RCMP, Urban Systems, North Peace Secondary, the North Peace

Resource Society and many more. Sam said the kids needed to visit each booth, and that gave them a chance to learn about the company and the various career opportunities available in the industry. They were given a chance to ask questions about the requirements of the jobs and the wage or salary so they can begin to think now about how they can apply themselves to move in that direction. “We want to teach them that they need to plan ahead. Whether they want to be a doctor or a plumber, they need to be thinking now about the opportunities they have in school now, so they can take the right subjects to work towards that longer term goal,” said Sam. Flint Energy has been attending the Dare 2 Dream career fair for four years to encourage students to prepare to fill positions that will arise with their company and within the natural resource industry. “We feel that this is where a lot of our young workers are going to come from. We’re a community-based and community-minded company, and we think it just makes good sense to tap into this resource now. We know we’ll have jobs to fill in the future, and by engaging them now they will be able to become those workers,” said Glen Pope, a Sales Representative with Flint Energy who

presented to students at the event. Pope said the career fair has been very successful over the four years they’ve attended. They’ve received good enthusiasm from the students and have had a few apply for apprenticeships in their electrical division. Flint Energy currently employs 300-400 people in the Fort St John area, depending on the time of year, and Pope pointed out that they employ many aboriginal workers therefore it makes sense for them to speak with aboriginal youth about careers in their industry. “They’re a part of our community, and our company is very fair-minded. We believe that it doesn’t matter what your skin color is and that opportunities should be the same for aboriginal youth as they are for everyone,” said Pope. In addition to the exhibitors, students who attended the career fair were treated to a variety of motivational speakers and a performance by Canadian pop-rock band Nine Mile. “We had an elder speak to them this morning about how tough it was when she went through life the hard way, and going back for education later on. It really showed that it’s never too late, but it’s easier for them now. If they put their effort in now, it will be easier for them to go to school than if they wait until they’re older and have children and responsibilities. It’s harder to go back then,” said Sam. Sam also spoke to the students about the importance of a healthy lifestyle and its potential impact on their future. “We talked a lot about barriers to their dreams and in my talk this morning, I talked about drugs and alcohol and how they can prevent the learning process and complicate their lives,” said Sam. The highlight of the day for many students was the performance by Nine Mile, which got many of the students out of their seats and onto or in front of the stage. D’Ari, lead singer of the band, signed autographs in the lobby after the show. Event organizers said they were excited by the turnout and the response they received from the event. NENAS hopes this event helps students to have the confidence they need to pursue a career path that interests them. “We try to build and encourage self-esteem, because for a lot of aboriginal students, their self esteem isn’t very high,” said Sam. Sam explained that self-esteem is just another barrier that can work against students and that they have seen many aboriginal students dropping out of school in the past, thus creating a social problem. “We’re trying to impress upon positive role-modeling and building up your self-esteem to get them feeling good about who they are and where they come from, so they will want to pursue higher education and careers that interest them,” said Sam. The Dare 2 Dream Aboriginal Youth Career Fair was also held in Fort Nelson on Oct. 5 and in Chetwynd on Oct. 7. •

Local employers meet local students

brock campbell Staff Writer

Dawson Creek Secondary School organized a unique opportunity for local employers to meet future members of the workforce. Wednesday, Nov. 2 between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. the school held an inaugural Job Fair for students Grades 10 through 12 at Unchagah Hall and the North Court of the South Peace campus. “The idea is that we would like employers, if they have jobs that they are seeking out employees for right now, to give

them an opportunity to advertise those jobs,” said Paul Chisholm, Vice-Principal for Dawson Creek Secondary School, about the planned meet and greet. It was also a chance for employers who may not be offering jobs right now but possibly in the future, to share something about their business with students, added Chisholm. “When our students start to go out looking for work, the job fair is an opportunity for them to have already had those conversations with somebody about jobs, in a relatively safe and comfortable environment.” The fair also allowed employers to put names to faces of potential employees, and give students a chance to ask ques-

tions about the work place. The response from local businesses was great, according to Chisholm, considering the fair is the first they have held at the school that Chisholm is aware of. In total there were about 35 employers attending the event, with a range of industries represented. In fact more companies expressed their interest in the fair, but were too busy to attend, according to Chisholm. Several food service businesses were present, as well as retail outlets, and beautician and hospitality professionals. Members of the public service, such as the City of Dawson Creek, the Corporation of the Village of Pouce Coupe, School District #59 and Job Search BC

were also available. Students met energy, and oil and gas industry representatives, along with numerous auto-mechanic businesses, which coincided nicely with some of the dual-credit programs offered at Dawson Creek Secondary School and its partnership with Northern Lights College. “There certainly seems to be a need in town for mechanics,” said Chisholm, who mentioned both the heavy-duty mechanic and service-tech courses, among other dual-credit programs. Chisholm described the fair as being a good opportunity for those enrolled in those classes to make connections with local mechanic shops, or other businesses related to particular areas of study. •

November 2011 I pipeline news north •


The most recent graduating class from the seismic training program run by the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society couldn’t even have their graduation celebration because many of the students were already working in the field and the other students were busy considering offers of employment. Photo by Khalid Hakim, Media Specialist, CCIS.

Is oil & gas subsidized by government? (no) james waterman Pipeline News North

During the days leading up to the Ontario provincial election this fall, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty accused the federal government of taking tax dollars from Ontario to subsidize the oil and gas industry in Western Canada. Such ideas that federal and provincial governments are subsidizing the energy sector aren’t uncommon in Canada, but Kenneth McKenzie and Jack Mintz from the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy believe those notions come from a flawed approach to determining what actually constitutes a ‘subsidy’. So, the duo published a paper this October – The Myths and Facts of Fossil Fuel Subsidies: A Critique of Existing Studies

– hoping to set the record straight. “We were simply interested in this because we’d heard several statements made publicly in other reports that we felt were misrepresenting what we thought to be the true state of affairs in terms of fossil fuels subsidies,” McKenzie explained. “We argue that some of the studies that have been done, reporting substantial subsidies for the oil and gas sector from both the federal government and the provincial governments, are methodologically flawed,” he added. “They’ve made mistakes.” McKenzie points to a recent report written for the International Institute for Sustainable Development concerning government subsidies and the oil and gas industry in Canada as a perfect example of papers that use a flawed approach that he claims is plaguing this area of study. “They use what’s called a tax expenditure approach, which is the foregone tax revenues that governments give up by

offering special programs and things like that,” said McKenzie. “We think that that approach, although, conceptually, it’s okay, you have to do it right,” he added. “And many of the studies that have done this before have not done it right.” According to McKenzie, the problem with other studies isn’t that they look for a dollar number representing the amount of money going from governments to the oil and gas industry as foregone taxes and government revenues – money the government will never see. The problem is that other studies have taken the wrong approach to looking for that dollar number. “Another approach to this is to say, okay, what impact does the tax and royalty policy of the federal and the provincial governments … actually have on activity?” said McKenzie. “Does it actually encourage activity? I mean, that’s what a subsidy’s supposed to do, right? If you subsidize something, you’re trying

to encourage it. If you tax something, you’re trying to discourage it, right? Just basically in terms of common usage of those terms.” “And so what we say is, if you’re really interested in whether or not the fiscal policy of the provinces and of the federal government is encouraging activity in the oil and gas sector, you have to use a different approach than all these other studies have done,” he continued. “And we introduced that type of approach where we take a look at the impact of the fiscal system – and by that I mean the tax and royalty policies of the governments – on investment and production in the oil and gas sector.” McKenzie noted that by following that approach – which he feels is the correct approach – he has determined that the oil and gas industry isn’t being subsidized by government. “In fact,” he said, “in some ways, they’re discouraging output and production from this sector.” •



November 2011











LDV DC Light Duty Crane DC OFA 1 FN H2S Alive FSJ

Winter Defensive Driving Review DC OFA TE FN

Applications of Electrical Codes FSJ







OFA 1 DC Building Your Communication Toolbox FSJ

H2S Alive CH H2S Alive DC H2S Alive FN Airbrakes FSJ

OFA 1 FN Detection & Control of Flammable and Toxic Subsances FN Forklift Safety FSJ

Fall Protection DC Global Ground Disturbance FN










H2S Alive FN

OFA 1 DC OFA 1 FN Light Duty Boom Truck FSJ

H2S Alive DC Forklift Operator Safety DC

OFA 1 CH Confined Space FN Fall Protection FSJ Heavy Duty Boom Truck FSJ











H2S Alive DC OFA 1 FN H2S Alive FN Oilfield Heavy Hauler FSJ

H2S Alive FN H2S Alive FSJ









Christmas Day

Boxing Day

CH – Chetwynd Campus DC – Dawson Creek Campus FN – Fort Nelson News Campus FSJ – Fort St. John Campus TR – Tumbler Ridge Campus

All Campuses Closed until January 3rd





GODI – General Oilfield Driver Improvement LDV – Light Duty Vehicle Driver Improvement OFA – Occupational First Aid OFA TE – OFA Transportation Endorsement PAL – Possession and Acquisition License (Canadian Firearms Safety Course)


WORKFORCE TRAINING Customized Industry Services. We can provide your business with customized training in the classroom or on-site. Find out how we an help improve your employees’ skillset and efficiency with training developed specifically for your company by calling the Workforce Training Department located at your nearest Campus.

Dawson Creek 250-784-7576 Hugh McNair

Chetwynd 250-788-2248 Verna Rowsell

Fort Nelson 250-774-2741 Ramona Nehring

Tumbler Ridge 250-242-5591 Donna Merry

Fort St. John 250-785-6981 Bob Haugen

Fort Nelson 250-774-2741 Kate Ring

November 2011 I pipeline news north •


ON-LINE SAFETY TRAINING THROUGH NLC (Morning start times recommended). • WHMIS • Bear Aware • Ground Disturbance • PST (Petroleum Safety Training IRP #16) • CSTS (Construction Safety Training System) • Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) • Wildlife Awareness Call the Workforce Training Department at your nearest Campus.


Your local provider delivering the right training to suit industries needs Our Workforce Training Department can organize a wide variety of courses for industry, business and the community

SOME EXAMPLES: • Air Brakes • ATV Rider • Boom Truck Operator • Snowmobile Rider Safety • Confined Space • Construction Safety Training • COR/SECOR • Detection and Control of Flammable Substances • Driver Training • Electrical Code Update • Electrical Course for Instrumentation Personnel • Enform Courses • Enform Chainsaw Safety • Fall Protection • Firefighting • First Aid • Forklift Safety • Gas Processing (all levels online) • GPS • General Oilfield Driver Improvement (GODI)

• Ground Disturbance – Global • Hazard Assessment • Hoisting and Rigging • H2S Alive • H2S Awareness • Incident and Accident Investigations • Management Skills • Oilfield Hauler • Oilfield Swamper • Petroleum Safety Training (PST.IRP #16) • Pesticide Applications • Portable Extinguisher Firefighting • Power Engineering (all levels online) • Private Security Training • S100 Fire Suppression • Safety Program Development • Safety Training for Wellsite Supervisors • Scaffolding • Seismic Blaster Safety • Track Inspection • Traffic Control • Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) • Well Blowout Prevention…and more!

Call the Workforce Training Department at your nearest campus. For more information or to register for any course listed in the monthly calendar:

• call the appropriate Workforce Training coordinator • call toll free 1-866-463-6652 and ask for the Workforce Training department at the campus where the course is offered • go online to, click Workforce Training under the Programs tab. The courses listed in the monthly calendar are accurate as of November 14. However, new courses are being added on a regular basis at each NLC campus. For updated schedules, go to and click on the Workforce Training logo.

Are you interested in: • taking a course that currently is not scheduled? • having a course designed specifically for your company? • having a course offered at your workplace? Contact the Workforce Training coordinator at your local campus. We will work with you to meet your needs.


November 2011

special feature

lookin’ good

- Fort Nelson Energy Expo james waterman Pipeline News North

The first Fort Nelson Energy Expo with Energy Services BC (ESBC) at the helm was a “really great success” according to Laurie Dolan, Executive Director North for ESBC. The event, which was held at the new Northern Rockies Regional Recreation Complex on Oct. 21 and 22, featured 85 exhibitors from the oil and gas industry, the service sector and organizations such as the Fort Nelson Invasive Plant Management Area Steering Committee. A big part of the success of the trade show was the impromptu job fair element that had high school students circulating through the 85 booths on the Friday afternoon to get a glimpse of the various careers that could be available to them in the Horn River Basin shale gas play. “Something that we’ve tried to do – a few of us that live here – is engage our students in the activity that’s going [on] here,” said Dolan. “The Horn River [Basin] is a place you don’t drive by. So, a lot of people, if they’re not associated with the industry, they really don’t know what’s happening. And they don’t see the magnitude of trades and jobs that there is out there. So, we’ve been trying to get them engaged.” “People from out of town in industry are looking for employees,” she continued. “They recognize that we have a huge pool of kids here. And, historically, Fort Nelson kids stay here. So, there’s a lot of recruiting not being done that needs to be done. We did try to do something last year. It wasn’t very successful.” It was a different story this year, as the Expo even attracted students from beyond Fort Nelson. “Actually, I wasn’t prepared for that,” Dolan admitted. “And neither were the exhibitors. So, there’s a lot of feedback from that. They loved that aspect of it. Next year, they’d like it more controlled. They’ll bring literature. They’ll bring interactive things.” Dolan also indicated the benefit of such a trade show for students seeking a career path is that it shows the diversity of careers associated with the patch, ranging from archaeology and geomatics to construction and drilling and completions. “We’ve got a lot of kids that, the day after they graduate [from high school], go out to the patch,” she said. “But we need to bring those opportunities to them before they go out there. And we have an audience of industry and service sector that are just eager to motivate them and tell them. I mean, there’s land management, there’s mapmaking, there’s surveying – whatever your passion is, there’s probably a trade or an occupation that suits that for the oil and gas industry.” Dolan recognized that Fort Nelson students have an advantage in that Northern Lights College (NLC) offers programs in Fort St. John that can lead to careers in many of those fields, but she also hopes the interest shown by students attending the Energy Expo will send a message to the college – which was also represented at the show – that those programs should be offered farther north on a consistent basis. “We have some consultations going on [with NLC],” said Dolan. “Frankly, we would like a lot of that here. It’s happening here. We have the people here. We do have the resources. ... We need other people to realize that we can facilitate that here. It’s the old story. It’s only a three and a half hour drive to Fort St. John. But for Fort St. John [residents] to come up here for [school], it’s only a three and a half hour drive.” “We had the president of the Northern Lights College here last week again,” she continued. “She’s been here a few times. She had a huge roundtable session of community members. I had a private meeting with her. They really want to find out on the ground where their place is in Fort Nelson. There’s huge opportunities for them. It’s going to change. But we did reiterate the college as a whole does a great job. Look at their Energy Centre in Dawson Creek and their [Industry Training Centre in Fort St. John]. And those are all great. And they are available to us.” Dolan suggested that even a taste of those programs in Fort Nelson would help steer students in the right direction

Bob Poitras (right) of Argus Machine explaining some of his company’s equipment to a visitor to the Fort Nelson Energy Expo held October 21-22 at the Northern Rockies Regional Recreation Complex in Fort Nelson. Photo by James Waterman.

for them and would be a very positive step for the college and the community. She also noted that there are good ideas as to how to accomplish those goals, but there are obstacles as well. “Every time you sit down with people, you can come up with the best solutions,” she said. “Then you hit the obstacles. The challenges. The college is provincially funded. So, they have to be extremely responsible in certain things. Sometimes, when it goes outside of that scope, things don’t get funded. But when you get a bunch of people in a room that want a solution, there’s some pretty innovative ideas that come out of that. And that’s the one thing that we can do up here. We’ve got some really involved oil and gas industry people. So, there’s some negotiations going on as to what we do need and how do we get there.” “We always say in Fort Nelson we have to think outside the box,” she added. “And we do up here.” Dolan remarked that she hadn’t been nervous about the Expo, despite the fact that it was the first one to be organized by ESBC after the Horn River Basin Producers Group initiated the event a few years ago. “This is such an easy to work with crowd,” she explained. However, Dolan also admitted that it was a relief to have the first one behind her and know that ESBC is capable of tackling this event every year, particularly since it is a source of income for the organization. “The number one goal was to make this a great event [and] build on it for next year,” she said. “You can’t build on something that’s a failure. A flop. It’s pretty tough to build on that. Pretty tough to try to engage people in coming back next year when it was a flop. This was a huge success. So, we can do whatever we want next year.” “I went around today and thanked everybody for coming and asked them if it was value for them,” Dolan continued. “And it was just about a hundred per cent [that] said yes. The connections. Meeting who’s here. Even though everybody works together out there, it’s passing each other in the night.” “They felt it was really effective, the time that they did spend here.” Of course, the show wasn’t without its challenges, including moving the event from September to October to accommodate the BC Oil and Gas Conference, which was also held in Fort Nelson, and trying to arrange things around the schedules of industry representatives from Calgary. They’re very generous with their time, but most of

the people that come here are on the road a lot anyway,” said Dolan. “We had Bailey Helicopter organize a charter, which was great. That was a big saviour to a lot of people. It came up Friday morning and went back ... after the show. If that charter didn’t happen, they would have had to come up Thursday and go back Sunday.” “And time is money,” she added. “Money is time. And everybody’s short of people. We did have two booths – two exhibitors – that desperately wanted to be in here. They could not get people. ... They’re all working.” Another challenge was working with a new facility that had never hosted such an event. “This part of the building was not set up for a trade show,” said Dolan. “So, we did our homework,” she continued. “There were a few of us on our hands and knees for hours in this area with tape measures and trying to figure out what this was going to look like. We drew it up. And we get here the morning of and some of it was just not working. One part of the area over there, the ceiling is a lot lower. We didn’t account for that.” However, according to Dolan, all the exhibitors were willing to be flexible. “There was a few tight spots, but it worked,” she said. In terms of attendance, the Energy Expo may have benefited from interest in the new recreation centre and the fact that the Fort Nelson Petroleum Association was holding its hockey tournament in the building the same weekend. This was the first expo that this many community people came out,” said Dolan. “The other ones have been great, great events. Sometimes the community doesn’t think it is their event. I think a big thing had to do with the new centre. There’s already so many people that come into this great facility. But more than that, we really did advertise to community people [to] get to know who’s working in your community, get to know what’s going on, get to know the opportunities there are. Learn about it. So, I think it worked. We had quite a few volunteers around the community that were just talking it up. And we engaged people.” Dolan plans to reconnect with the exhibitors over the next few months to get their feedback on the expo and start planning for next year. She is already hearing that many of them would like a better opportunity to display their equipment and technology. “This show is their show,” she said. “It’s what works for them. We’re the facilitator.” •

November 2011 I pipeline news north •


- Virtual excavation james waterman Pipeline News North

A popular attraction at the 2011 Fort Nelson Energy Expo was the excavator simulator brought to the show by FABCOR Pipeline and Facility Construction. The simulator – which FABCOR created in partnership with Brant Tractors – looks like an excavator, but with a computer display instead of a bucket. The operator works the controls and the results of those efforts are shown on the screen. “It’s been quite busy,” said Kevin Lavallee, Equipment and Trucking Manager with FABCOR, discussing the number of people eager to test their skill on the simulator. FABCOR had been considering incorporating a simulator into their safety and training programs for some time when they saw John Deere’s simulators at Conexpo in Las Vegas, Nevada this spring. “They’ve got the excavator,” said Lavallee. “They’ve got a grader. A dozer. And they’ll actually use those for corporate training programs. “For example, if you have a really large company with a bunch of different operators, they would actually bring simulators up just for short little stints. So, we kind of talked about maybe bringing one on that we could use on a regular basis.” “We’ll have one of our better operators come in and set a benchmark on this,” he added. FABCOR will be using the simulator to train new staff at their main facility in Grande Prairie, Alberta. “For guys who come in and say they’re fifteen-year wizzes on the excavator, at least there’s some way for us to determine that before we send them out into the field,” said Greg Leroux, Sales Manager at Fabcor Pipeline and Facility Construction, shows Ashley Scriba of CNRL how to use Lavallee. • his company’s new excavator simulator. Photo by James Waterman.

- Fort Nelson invasive plant management james waterman Pipeline News North

Fort Nelson First Nation Chief Kathi Dickie chats with Fort Nelson Invasive Plant Management Area Steering Committee representative Sonja Leverkus during the 2011 Fort Nelson Energy Expo held October 21-22. Leverkus attended the event to talk to industry about how they can help reduce the spread of invasive plants in Northeast British Photo by James Waterman. Columbia.

The only thing the Fort Nelson Invasive Plant Management Steering Committee has in common with the weeds they are hoping to eradicate from Northeast British Columbia is that they can pop up where not everyone expects to find them – like an oil and gas industry trade show. The committee didn’t attend the 2011 Fort Nelson Energy Expo to wreak havoc on the event the way invasive plants wreak havoc on the ecosystems they attack, but to discuss with industry how they can help stop that invasion. “For us, it’s incredibly important to partner with oil and gas companies, because they’re the ones who are doing the actual activity on the land base,” explained Sonja Leverkus, who was representing the committee at the expo. “So many quick wins and ways they can limit their footprint on the environment if they work with us, such as using weed-free straw that we’re now producing out of the Peace, that’s certified to provincial standards, to

clean seed mixes. Both of those prevent the introduction of invasive plants in their operations and along the roadsides. And then when they become partners with us, we provide education and awareness for them, too.” “The best thing that could possibly happen for Fort Nelson is to have a giant carwash at Pink Mountain where everybody coming up north – and that doesn’t just limit to oil and gas; that’s also backcountry users – washes their vehicle,” she continued. “Because the main vector for bringing invasive species to the Fort Nelson area – and not just to Fort Nelson, but to the Northwest Territories, the Yukon and Alaska – is up the Alaska Highway. So, that would be our first line of defence, if we had a giant carwash at Pink Mountain.” There is also discussion about installing ATV wash stations in Fort Nelson. “It’s quite expensive in some locations to clean off your machinery,” said Leverkus. “So, that would help, because invasive plant seeds get stuck in the mud that’s on the bottom of the ATVs.” • 28392


November 2011


mr. newlove

- Enform’s new manager of BC Operations

james waterman Pipeline News North

Rick Newlove didn’t waste any time getting his feet wet. During his first few days as the new Manager of BC Operations with Enform, the safety association for Canada’s upstream oil and gas industry, he attended the 2011 Fort Nelson Energy Expo on October 21 and 22 and the 2011 CrossRoads Conference in Prince George on October 24 and 25. Newlove didn’t see that as being thrown into the fire so much as being given a great opportunity to quickly transition into his new role. “I think it’s a really good way for me to network and meet the people that I’m going to be needing as contacts to develop my role with Enform,” he said. “Obviously, the oil and gas industry, the key safety people that are at these conferences are the ones that I need to communicate with to try and ensure that we develop a safety program or they’re onside with Enform. Or even ask for input from industry.” “We’re a safety agency by industry for industry,” he added. “So, we need to develop those communication chains in order to get the direct feedback from the clients.” Although not always involved with the health and safety side of the industry, Newlove has been involved in the natural resources sector for years. After earning an education in electronics and toiling in that field for four years, he made the move to forestry, which brought him up to the Fort St. John area to work for the forest district. “I was reviewing oil and gas program applications,” he said of his job during that period. “And I think forestry is a good background knowledge for oil and gas development, because there are obviously impacts to the forest resource.,” Newlove continued. “So, if you have the knowledge of how to remediate those impacts as well as try and reforest or reclaim the sites as best as you can after the activity has gone.” Newlove transferred his forestry background and his related experience

with the permitting side of the oil and gas industry to the BC Oil and Gas Commission, where he spent ten years in roles ranging from geophysical manager to his final position as a director concerned with safety and emergency response. “I was in compliance and enforcement,” he said. “I spent a couple years actually inspecting drilling and service rigs. I was also compliance enforcement regional manager. So, from my Oil and Gas Commission experience, I got a lot of regulatory background – which is an asset for this role – as well as a technical understanding.” “I think if you looked at the majority of the leadership with the Oil and Gas Commission, many of them came from forestry,” he continued, discussing his successful transition from one sector to the other. “And I think having a resource background is beneficial to any training role or anything in oil and gas, because there obviously is going to be some impacts to the forest resource when you do oil and gas [development].” His experience with health and safety continued to grow after accepting a job with Northern Lights College, where he taught many of the safety courses in the industry training programs. It wasn’t easy for Newlove to leave the familiarity of the college, but he has no regrets about his decision. “I’m really pleased to be here because it pulls a lot of my background and training together all in one specific location,” he explained. “I’m very happy to be with Enform,” he continued. “And in managing the Fort St. John office, I’ll be the key B.C. spokesperson for Enform. So, that’s a pretty promising position.” “Obviously, I can touch base with a lot of the Calgary support network. There’s a huge amount of technical expertise on the Calgary side, as well as the leadership side. I’m building my career. I’d like to strengthen all my abilities, including leadership. And I think this a very strong organization to be able to accomplish that.” Newlove was also encouraged to accept the position by his past interaction with Enform and their staff. “I probably wouldn’t have taken the role if the relationships were poor,” he

Rick Newlove dove right into his new role as Manager of BC Operations with Enform by attending both the Fort Nelson Energy Expo and the CrossRoads Conference during his first few days on the job. Photo by James Waterman.

said. “I think I’ve had extremely good relationships with Enform in the past, including the previous managers in my position.” As for what he can bring to Enform, Newlove is confident that he has the knowledge and passion necessary to succeed as the Manager of BC Operations. “I want to make sure that the industry is safe,” he said. “From all my roles in the oil and gas industry, I’d worked to try and ensure that the industry is safe. And I think they’re doing a great job in ensuring that is the case.” “The passion for safety is probably one of the main things that I can probably bring to the role.” Ultimately, Newlove is excited for this opportunity to positively affect the safety culture of the entire industry.

“Unlike getting employed with a specific oil and gas company, I can help change the corporate safety structure of all of them,” he explained. “And that was a pretty key role in why I moved over to Enform.” “I think there’s always room for improvement,” he added. “I think the industry’s come a huge way over the last decade in taking safety as an important factor in the oil and gas industry. Many, many years ago, I think they had the nickname of the killing fields. And Enform and its predecessor have probably been key in … dispelling that original history to the point today where the forestry sector has many more injuries and deaths than what the oil and gas industry has. And I think Enform has come a long ways to help promote the culture of industry in promoting safety.” •

Encana donates $50,000 to medical programs University of Northern British Columbia

Encana Corporation is supporting health care and education in Northern British Columbia with a $50,000 donation to the Northern Medical Programs Trust (NMPT) at the University of Northern British Columbia. The NMPT, managed by UNBC, is providing approximately $150,000 in student awards during the 2011-2012 school year, helping northern students train for careers in northern rural practice. The NMPT endowment is currently about $6.5 million. The NMPT is comprised of nearly 30 municipalities and regional districts, and supports students in

the Northern Medical Program and the UNBC Family Nurse Practitioner program who participate in rural clinical experiences as part of their education. Funds are provided to students based on the location and duration of their clinical placement. The Trust also provides some financial assistance to northern communities eager to attract students. Encana’s contribution has been divided to help fulfill the pledges of three northern communities including Fort Nelson, Fort St. John and Chetwynd which enables the Trust to operate as an endowment in perpetuity. “We’re proud to support the Northern Medical Program and UNBC because they are important to the communities where we live and work in the north, and because it’s a key part of our commitment to family and community wellness and to education,” says Mike Forgo, Vice-President of Business Services and Stakeholder Relations.

“We’ve worked with UNBC since 2006 on the NMPT and local research projects and we’re happy to continue our support for the education of health practitioners who will contribute to the quality of life in the region.” “We’re proud to say that investments in UNBC are investments in the future of northern BC,” says UNBC President George Iwama. “For example, the first group of Northern Medical Program graduates included Dr. Jennifer Parker who established a practice in Fort St. John last year. We’ll see many similar stories in the future thanks to the support students receive from the Trust to experience what it’s really like to live and work in the North.” Donations to the Northern Medical Programs Trust are tax-deductible and can be made through UNBC. For more information on the Northern Medical Program visit •

November 2011 I pipeline news north •

Alaska Highway News

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November 2011



- who ya gonna call... WCSS

Western Canadian Spill Services members deploying spill containment and recovery equipment in a small river. Photo courtesy of Western Canadian Spill Services.

james waterman Pipeline News North

Oil spills happen. Back in the late sixties, a significant oil spill occurred off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. A pair of major oil spills took place in Canadian waters just a year later. All of this was during the early days of an environmental movement – and a heightened awareness of environmental concerns – that was instigated by the release of Rachel Carson’s 1962 indictment of the use of DDT as a pesticide, Silent Spring. So, the petroleum industry knew it had to act to ensure they were ready to deal with oil spills quickly and effectively if they were to happen. Alberta’s Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) and the Canadian Petroleum Association – the predecessor the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) – began working together to develop an oil spill preparedness plan. “And in that plan,” said Al McFadyen, “it recommended that industry work together to purchase equipment and develop oil spill cooperatives to deal with upstream petroleum spills.” That is McFadyen’s business. He is the President and COO of Western Canadian Spill Services (WCSS), the upstream petroleum industry’s spill preparedness organization. WCSS is basically a management team that oversees the oil spill co-ops that were established in 1972 in response in response to the recent oil spills and the growing environmental conscience. There are 18 oil spill co-ops at this point, of which Alberta has sixteen. There is one in British Columbia and one in

Saskatchewan. “There are regulations in place that essentially outline the licensees of wells and pipelines to either have an approved spill preparedness program or belong to an oil spill cooperative,” said McFadyen. “With a spill preparedness organization in each of those eighteen oil spill co-ops, we have initial spill response units,” he continued. “And we have an oil spill contingency manual that’s unique to each of the eighteen areas. And we conduct annual training exercises. There was one recently in Fort St. John area on the Peace River. In addition to the equipment in each area, we have regional equipment and specialized equipment that is also available to our members. So, we have a minimum of eighteen training exercises a year and a minimum of one in each area. In Northeast B.C., we typically have two. One in Fort Nelson and the other one in the Fort St. John area.” Annually, WCSS develops a new strategic plan, which is subsequently transformed into an operational plan outlining the objectives for the year. A substantial part of the work is the training, as well as planning, equipment maintenance, and what is known as ‘field improvement’. “Identifying issues linked to spill preparedness and working towards improving the industry’s spill response capability in those areas,” explained McFadyen. “It’s much like the Enform world, where we’re developing courses, updating courses,” he added. McFadyen didn’t start his professional life handling oil spills, however. Back in the early eighties, his path toward his current position began by accepting a job with the government of Alberta as a pollution technician. “Essentially, I was working for the Alberta forest service,” he explained, “but also had a responsibility to Fish

and Wildlife and Public Lands. So, whenever there was a pollution related incident on public lands, I would be the regulatory liaison.” McFadyen eventually moved from that role to a job managing environmental programs for the Petroleum Industry Training Service (PITS), which teamed up with the Canadian Petroleum Safety Council (CPSC) to form Enform in 2005. “[That] included a role as a training coordinator for the annual oil spill co-op exercises,” said McFadyen. “In 1996,” he continued, “the industry merged a then regional oil-spill preparedness group with the co-ops to become Western Canadian Spill Services.” McFadyen served as a managing director with the organization until January 1, 2011, when he was promoted to his current position as President and COO. He is proud to play an important role with WCSS. “It really is a public safety and environmental protection initiative,” he explained. “And I think we can see from the training and the equipment and the activities that we’ve done, that we can make a significant difference in terms of how spills are dealt with. We believe, and I think for a lot of good reasons, that we’re one of the most progressive inland oil spill cooperatives in the world.” WCSS is closely tied with other industry organizations. A longstanding relationship with Enform has changed slightly this year, but a continuing service agreement with the safety association for the upstream petroleum industry still includes human resources and IT support from Enform, as well as the use of office space. CAPP and the Small Explorers and Producers Association of Canada (SEPAC) are among the shareholders. continued pg 23

November 2011 I pipeline news north •

Jeakins is CEO

The BC Oil and Gas Commission announced on October 28 that Paul Jeakins is taking over as the new Commissioner and CEO of the province’s oil and gas industry regulator. “I’m looking forward to taking on this new leadership role,” Jeakins said in a press release from the Commission. “I intend to maintain the momentum which has established the Commission as the leading oil and gas regulator in Canada by building the internal expertise to take on emerging technical challenges, strengthening our collaboration with government, industry, First Nations, the public and stakeholders, and expanding our reporting and transparency initiatives.” Prior to this appointment, Jeakins was serving as Chief Operating Officer at the Commission, as well as Interim Commissioner since the departure of former Commissioner Alex Ferguson. Photo Courtesy of the BC Oil and Gas Commission.


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“CAPP has three representatives on our board of directors,” said McFadyen. “And many of the volunteers at the co-op level and other committees are CAPP member companies. So, there’s a very close relationship with CAPP.” Not surprisingly, pipeline companies Enbridge and Kinger Morgan are also shareholders. Obviously, oil spills are a hot topic these days after BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. A year later, another fairly high profile – although far less severe – incident occurred just north of Peace River, Alberta when Plain’s Midstream’s Rainbow pipeline sprung a leak. The spill received a lot of media attention, but the public didn’t hear as much about the industry response. “I think that the public awareness around spills is probably unprecedented in terms of their interest and concern about spills,” said McFadyen. “So, when there’s a spill like the Rainbow pipeline spill, people are automatically concerned – and rightly so. They’re concerned about public safety and environmental impacts from that spill. “That spill, for example, I think, was most newsworthy because of the volumes. It was probably one of the biggest inland oil spills in this province for many, many years, if not the biggest. The thing about that spill is that it was essentially contained in an area. It wasn’t migrating out of the area. The company took very quick action to deal with the spill.” “The First Nations people were concerned about air quality,” he continued. “That was dealt with, both by the regulators and by the company. So, although it was a big spill and got a lot of media attention at first, they pretty much had control of it very quickly.” McFadyen noted that response to these types of incidents is “almost immediate.” “What typically happens with pipelines is that the pipeline company are the first guys that know they have a problem, because, in their control rooms, they see a drop in pressure,” he explained. “That triggers an immediate response. They immediately implement their corporate emergency response plan. And, typically, they will send field crews – first responders – out in the field to identify

the location. While that’s happening, they have equipment on route.” Safety of those first responders is a primary concern, along with the safety of the public in the vicinity of an incident. That can cause small delays in response time if the leak or spill happens to be detected during the night. “You need to have a plan in place to deal with the spill before it occurs,” said McFadyen as he discussed responding to oil spills. “You have to ensure that you have trained responders so that they understand the issues around a spill. And you have to have access to resources, whatever those resources might be.” For example, a spill impacting a water body will require containment booms, skimmers and pumps to manage the oil, but will also need a unit to keep wildlife away from the spill site until the clean-up is complete. “So, when a spill occurs, one of the first things that the responsible party needs to do is an assessment of what is the problem,” McFadyen continued. “Once they do that assessment, they can quickly put together an incident action plan that essentially outlines the objectives.” “They quickly organize themselves into where their roles and responsibilities are laid out,” he added. That is accomplished through an organization structure known as an incident command system or ICS. “The incident command system can be expanded or contracted to fit with the magnitude of an incident,” said McFadyen. “Companies need to be prepared,” he reiterated. “The better prepared they are through training and having access to equipment, then the more success they’re going to have when the event actually happens. So, it’s important for companies to recognize that and to put resources into that. Now, having said that, I think all companies recognize the value and importance of spill prevention. That’s huge.” “One of the other things is communications,” McFadyen continued. “We all know when public relations go sour,” he said. “And it’s usually because they’re not communicating very well with the public and the stakeholders. And there’s lots of stakeholders in a spill. So, that public relations and communications part of the spill is critical.” •


cont’d from pg 22


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November 2011

industry news

doing it right

- BC Aboriginal Business Awards james waterman Pipeline News North

Recipients of the third annual British Columbia Aboriginal Business Awards were announced Nov. 3 and two Northeast B.C. ventures are among those that have earned this recognition. Black Diamond Dene and Duz Cho Construction both heard their names called by Mary Polak, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, and Keith Mitchell, Chair of the BC Achievement Foundation, the organization that created the award program. Black Diamond Dene, an equity partnership with Fort Nelson First Nation that provides work camps for the oil and gas industry in the Horn River Basin, was recognized for their outstanding achievement in the Joint Venture Business of the Year Category, which was won by North Vancouver real estate developers Takaya Development. “Obviously, it’s a huge honour,” said RJ Hunt, Aboriginal and Community Relations with Black Diamond Dene. “Our partnership’s been in operation now for about two years. And it’s a really unique partnership. It’s a 50/50 equity based partnership. So, it’s not like a simple royalty type partnership. We have active participation with the [Fort Nelson First] Nation and it’s a real honour working up in the Horn River Basin with the Fort Nelson First Nation.” Chetwynd-based Duz Cho Construction received recognition for their outstanding achievement in the CommunityOwned Business of the Year category, which was won by Port Alberni’s Tseshat Market. Owned by the McLeod Lake Indian Band, Duz Cho Construction is also heavily involved with the natural resource sector. “It’s pretty outstanding,” Chief Derek Orr said of the recognition. “We always want to be a proactive business that’s able to deliver and be right up there with the non-aboriginals in performance and quality.” Hunt and Orr both remarked on the opportunities presented by the natural resource sector that are allowing First Nations people in Northeast B.C. to build successful businesses, but Hunt insisted that they must be done right. “Oil and gas industry can help First Nations build strong businesses in [Northeast B.C.],” said Hunt. “However, one of the major factors that strongly influences First Nations’ ability to build a strong business is to structure the [joint venture] or partnership so they are longlasting and can grow as the capacity in the community develops. This is one of the reasons Black Diamond feels our partnership with the Fort Nelson First Nation has been so successful. I think the Nation is able to see this is a long-lasting partnership and relationship. And we definitely view it as long-term. Because the partnership is 50/50 equity based, the Nation has bought assets in the Black Diamond fleet, and these assets will generate revenue wherever they are working, whether in the Horn River Basin

Black Diamond Dene was recognized for outstanding achievement in the Joint Venture Company of the Year category. Left to Right: Councillor Harvey Behn, COO Steve Stein, Mel Benson, Councillor Samantha Kotchea, Councillor Roberta Michel, Councillor Bernadette Makowski, VP Paul de Rosenroll, Councillor Sharleen Wildeman, CEO Trevor Haynes. Photo courtesy of Black Diamond Dene.

or in the Bakken in southern Saskatchewan. Way down the road, once our work in the Horn River Basin is done, it doesn’t mean our relationship with the Nation will end.” “There are lots of opportunities in [Northeast B.C.] and will be even more once the LNG (liquefied natural gas) projects move along,” he added. “As oil and gas companies look to partner with First Nations, the relationships they create need to be founded upon respect, honesty, integrity and trust.” Orr pointed out that community-owned businesses like Duz Cho Construction provide great benefits for all members of the community. “It’s revenues and profits that we can gain to provide services for our members,” he said. “The profits that are gained are going to go towards health, culture and education for our membership. So, it will just enhance the lives of our membership and for the betterment of our people we gain assets. And hopefully our company will continue to grow and our members to benefit through jobs, services and a number of other opportunities.” “The great thing is that it’s having this positive impact on youth that are being employed,” said Mary Poppajohn, Program Coordinator for the BC Aboriginal Business Awards with the BC Achievement Foundation. “And they get training.” “Industry is realizing that First Nations need to be a part of it,” added Orr. “And that’s another major factor for the opportunities that are being put forward.” “We have been a strong supporter of these awards,” said Encana spokesperson Carol Howes. Not only has Encana worked with First Nations businesses, included Black Dia-

mond Dene and Duz Cho Construction, they are also a sponsor of the awards program. Encana nominated Black Diamond Dene in the Joint Venture Business of Year category last year, which also made the company eligible for the award this year. Black Diamond Dene has been providing Encana with camps in Northeast B.C. since they began operations. “The venture has brought a lot of opportunities to the region, which will be beneficial for years to come,” said Howes. “There are other winners that we are also happy to see recognized, such as Duz Cho Construction, which has done road and lease construction for us. These

companies not only contribute to the overall economic well-being of the region, but provide valuable, wide-reaching opportunities for Aboriginal people in the area.” Working with the natural resource industry also demonstrates the shift from traditional economies that has been gradually occurring among B.C.’s First Nations communities over the past fifty years. “We’ve always used the land back as far as ancestors go,” said Orr. “Today, we’re just utilizing it in a different way and on a bigger scale. We used to harvest berries, but now we’re harvesting lumber. continued pg 25

Chetwynd-based Duz Cho Construction, which is owned by the McLeod Lake Indian Band, has been able to benefit from oil and gas industry activity in the region. The company has received recognition for their outstanding achievement in the Community-Owned Business of the Year category at the third annual British Columbia Aboriginal Business Awards. Photo courtesy of Duz Cho Construction.

November 2011 I pipeline news north •


cont’d from pg 24 We used to harvest animals, and we still do that, but the world’s changing. And if we don’t change, we’re going to be left behind. And that’s the challenge I face as the leader, is trying to balance those changes with the old traditions and marry them with the new world. And that’s a very tough thing to do.” That appears to be part of the message of the awards program, which is seen in the variety of businesses being recognized. “It’s very diverse,” said Poppajohn, noting that the businesses include trades, hospitality, food and beverage, a golf course and a pilates studio. “So, you can’t really just say that they’re just in one sector.” “I think it’s a real move towards First Nations providing services,” said Orr. “And First Nations have always been capable of good business. And it’s just coming to the forefront.” Pappajohn also emphasized the importance of recognizing young entrepreneurs, business owners that are under the age of thirty. “I think it’s very important,” she said. “It’s a great way to inspire people, that they can do this, that this is something that is very possible. And to see these young role models is fantastic.” “It just sort of gives you encouragement that there’s a future and it’s very much attainable,” she added. Hunt suggested that the awards as a whole send a positive message to other First Nations and the members of those communities. “I think there’s lots of opportunity available right now,” he said. “There’s not hardly any projects in Canada now that don’t have First Nations impacts. And there’s definitely companies out there that are willing to partner with First Nations in a very beneficial way – Black Diamond being one of those. We also have a similar partnership with the West Moberly First Nation called Black Diamond Cyngus.” “To me,” said Orr, offering his take on the message of the awards program, “it’s just that First Nations can do it.” •

Tyrone Carty, a member of the McLeod Lake Indian Band, is an apprentice welder with Duz Cho Construction, who were recognized for their outstanding achievement in the Community-Owned Business of the Year category. Photo courtesy of Duz Cho Construction.

helping the children Barry Brandl presented Penny Gagnon, CDC Executive Director with a donation of $10,000.00 from V.E. Brandl towards Project Build-A-Fort. The CDC thanks V.E. Brandl for their generous support and contribution. submitted photo

Blaine Kitzul presented Penny Gagnon, CDC Executive Director with a donation of $3500.00 from the Oilmen's Association Annual Family Fun Weekend. The Association hosted raffles, helicopter rides, river boating, quadding, and a duck race. Thanks go out to Gerd Juister for his willingness and special generosity towards the CDC. submitted photo

AltaGas is taking over PNG Michaela Garstin Staff Writer AltaGas will take over Pacific Northern Gas in a deal that will double its utility business and allow the company to capitalize on increased exploration activity in Western Canada. The deal will also allow the Calgary-based company to tap into Asia’s drastically growing need for fuel. AltaGas will buy Vancouver-based Pacific Northern Gas in a deal worth $230 million at $36.75 cash per share, while absorbing $85 million in debt. AltaGas, which is involved in natural gas exploration, energy services and power generation, is looking to capitalize on increased activity and customer growth in Northeast B.C., said the company’s CEO David Cornhill in a statement. It will align its new assets with existing ones such as Bear Mountain Wind Park near Dawson Creek and the Younger natural gas liquids plant. AltaGas will take over agreements with Dawson Creek, Pouce Coupe, Fort St. John and Taylor. Mayor Mike Bernier said customers in Dawson Creek shouldn’t see any difference after the takeover. The company has had three different owners in the past 20 years and there hasn’t been any noticeable operating changes, he said. He said rates will remain the same because they are regulated by the B.C. Utilities Commission. “Both Pacific Northern Gas and AltaGas have confirmed and agreed that with the sale will not affect staffing by any means. “The sale won’t change business operations at all – just the name on the door.” Around 27 people work for the company in the Peace Region. Dawson Creek has 12 employees. The company will also take over the existing PNG pipeline system, which helps connect Canada’s western gas fields to Kitimat, where a proposed liquefied natural gas terminal received the go ahead to export to Asia. •


November 2011


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Financial success is a journey, not a destination. Are you taking the steps to get you on the road to financial independence and keep you there? Check the items that you have provided for or are in the process of providing for. •

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- source vs export

james waterman Pipeline News North

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Success in Kitmat has raised some concerns in Horn River. Amid all the celebration by the Kitimat LNG partners – Apache Canada, EOG Resources and Encana – over the news that the National Energy Board (NEB) has granted the group a twenty year license to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) from a terminal at Kitimat, British Columbia to markets in the Asia-Pacific, there is a quiet voice of concern coming from the Horn River Basin. “Kitimat just upsets me,” said Lana Lowe, Director of the Fort Nelson First Nation Lands Department. Shale gas exploration and production in the Horn River Basin is occurring in the heart of Fort Nelson First Nation’s traditional territory. While members of her community are working in the play and enjoying the economic benefits of that activity, they do have concerns about the pace of development and the cumulative environmental impacts that may result from exploration and production in the region, the extent of which Lowe believes is still largely unknown and unexplored. Chief among those concerns for Lowe and the Fort Nelson First Nation have been water management and the plight of the declining caribou populations that are experiencing increased predation – particularly by wolves – due to linear disturbances such as roads, pipelines and seismic lines that give the carnivores easier access to their ungulate prey. Lowe has been trying to address those issues while the pace of development in the Horn River Basin has been relatively slow, thanks to the long distances from conventional markets and the depressed price of natural gas in North America. Her efforts have included trying to ensure that Fort Nelson First Nation are consulted on all water use applications made by industry companies operating in the play. Lowe’s concern is, now that the companies in the Horn River Basin are going to have a market for their product – a market that will pay higher prices for that product than the North American prices – the pace of development is going to increase significantly and the environmental issues are going to be lost in the frenzy. “Development’s going to ramp up,” she said. Lowe indicated that the Fort Nelson First Nation would have liked to play a greater role in determining the future of the Kitimat LNG projects, but she admit-

ted that they failed to do so because they “didn’t understand the process.” “It’s the government’s way of consulting with First Nations on projects like this,” she said. “They don’t really make it easy for First Nations to be involved. It’s a real legal process. Encana had their lawyers and EOG had their lawyers and Apache had their lawyers. And it was just us – me and a consultant I was working with at the time. We got our asses kicked. And we missed all the deadlines.” Lowe noted that she learned of the NEB hearings regarding Kitimat almost by accident as she was looking into an unrelated pipeline project. “No one told me that was going on,” she said, suggesting that the NEB failed to consider the source of the natural gas when handling the application for the export license. “I guess, because it wasn’t Kitimat, they figured the First Nation didn’t have any reason to be notified,” she continued. “So, we had sent a letter explaining where the gas is coming from. We said we want to intervene. They said we could. “But then we weren’t provided with any funding or anything to participate as an intervener. We weren’t given any guidance from the NEB on how to participate as an intervener. So, in the end, we just did what we could. In the end, we got on the record that we expected a full environmental impact assessment of the source of the gas for the export license. So, at least it’s on the record.” According to Lowe, Apache and EOG were concerned when they heard that Fort Nelson First Nation was trying to intervene and immediately dispatched their Aboriginal liaison team to address the situation. “We’re still going to have to push for a regional and environmental cumulative effects assessment through other means,” said Lowe. “I think it’s wrong that [the government] approved the license without considering the impacts on where the source of their export is,” she added. Lowe suggested that it is now up to the provincial government to ensure the environmental impacts are adequately addressed as the pace of development in the Horn River Basin increases. “The only thing that was holding [industry] back was that they didn’t have a market for their gas,” she said. “It wasn’t economical. Now they do. So, now it’s up to government to decide whether they’re going to moderate the pace of development until they fully understand the environmental impacts or if they’re just going to let it be a free for all.” •

November 2011 I pipeline news north •



Quote of the Month

cleaning up

“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”

- O&G site remediation

- Theodore Roosevelt Encana crews performing remediation 33868

on their work sites in Western Canada.

Photo courtesy of Robert Martens, Encana.

Janette Taylor


It can often seem as though Alberta and British Columbia are two different worlds when it comes to the oil and gas industry. Alberta is the traditional petroleum province, long known for conventional oil and gas supplies, and now the land of the unconventional oil sands. B.C. is the younger cousin and the home of unconventional shale gas. Robert Martens, Group Lead for Environmental Liability Management with Encana, points out that the differences also extend to the realm of site remediation. “First of all, compared to Alberta, the workload [in B.C.] is not even close to being as big,” he said. However, the main cause of that isn’t the oil sands, as many might think. “It gets a lot of attention,” Martens said of the oil sands. “But, really, first of all, the number of wells in Alberta is much larger. It is throughout the province. There are older, more complex, and more contaminated wells than B.C. And in B.C. the oil and gas is only focused on northeastern B.C.” Martens noted that are a few wells in other regions of the province such as the Kootenays and Vancouver Island, but no exploration and production to the extent that is seen in the northeast corner. “So, I would say the workload in B.C. is more manageable than Alberta,” he continued. “There’s still a big chunk of work.” Remediation is also a heavily regulated job. “When a well is depleted, then there are regulations on how to abandon it,” Martens explained. “There’s regulations on how to cut and cap it. That all has to be reported to the [BC] Oil and Gas Commission. Then you start with the whole environmental process.” That includes a careful look at the history of the well. “So, you have to do interviews with … the oil and gas companies,” he said. “We all have to contract that out. It’s all done by third party companies. Then they start looking at the drilling records.” The first thing they want to know is if every drilling event was documented. “So, how many metres they drilled during that particular day,” said Martens. “What kind of mud additive they used. And, more importantly, what they’ve done with those drill cuttings. Was it disposed in the landfill? Was it managed in a remote sump?” The goal is to ascertain if any drilling waste at that site could be potentially be an environmental concern. “So, that’s part of the environmental site assessment,” he continued. “You look for areas of concern and contaminants of concern. That’s all investigated by a third party. And then the results will determine if a site is

viewed as contaminated or not. So, if it’s contaminated, remediation has to happen. And if it’s not contaminated, then surface reclamation can proceed.” “The biggest difference between Alberta and B.C. is, we need permission from the Oil and Gas Commission before we can start our reclamation,” Martens noted. “So, we have to submit all the site assessment and remediation activities we’ve completed to the Oil and Gas Commission. And we need to ask for permission to start with surface reclamation. Simply to prevent that we do everything all at once and then they find some deficiencies later on.” Possible contaminants vary depending on the type of well – oil, natural gas, coal bed methane (CBM), for example. “The sumps, because drilling techniques and the way drilling waste is managed largely changed over the last three [to] four decades,” said Martens, suggesting possible sources of surface contamination. “Regulations constantly get more stringent. So, the sump could be an issue. Then any storage tanks. Third party companies go into spill records to see if any spills were adequately cleaned up. … And then well centre, of course.” Remediation tends to be more costly than reclamation, but it can also be accomplished during a shorter timeframe. “Because remediation can be done in one winter,” said Martens, adding that it can take much longer to obtain a Certificate of Restoration from the Commission because it has to be proven that a site is weed-free. Also, the costs of remediation vary from project to project. “No site is the same,” said Martens. “We’ve seen very expensive projects, but we also see very cost effective projects. So, typically, we try to start up sites, as much as we can, for an entire winter, so we can share equipment, share staff and resources, to manage those costs a little bit better. But, also, changing regulations throws us, sometimes, back where we have to partially start all over again. That’s not so much an issue in B.C., but definitely in Alberta it is very problematic the last, I would say, five to ten years. I couldn’t put a number on that because it varies so much.” Martens admitted that Northeast B.C. does present challenges to completing remediation work in a cost effective fashion. “I’ve tried numerous things over the years,” he said. “Inside and also outside Encana. Pretty much the most effective way and the cheapest way is actually excavation and disposal in landfills. “There are some good emergent techniques if you only have salt contamination, like with electrokinetics, that effectively can remove salt impacts. But then you’re still sitting with a hydrocarbon problem, potentially. So, it can’t remove everything, but for salts iT can be really effective.” •

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November 2011


oilmen’s hockey

- it’s been a long time coming james waterman Pipeline News North

The Fort Nelson Petroleum Association held its first hockey tournament since 2006. Players got to hit the ice from Oct. 19 to 22 thanks to the construction of the new Northern Rockies Regional Recreation Complex. “It’s fantastic,” said Victor Komori of the Fort Nelson Petroleum Association and Kledo Construction. “It was really good. It was good to be back.” It had been five years since the last tournament, because the roof of the old recreation centre in Fort Nelson had collapsed. “We could have had them before when we had the secondary rink,” said Komori. “But because they had no shower facilities and stuff, we just decided not to.” The round robin tournament had sixty players divided into six teams, all competing for one of three cups. “It went very well,” said Komori. “Had a lot of good feedback. It was quite successful for the first time back in five years.”

Additionally, there was a bit of a rush to organize the event, as the five person committee, led by Dan Kerr of Big Guns Energy Services, only had two months to do so. “We have three events a year,” Komori explained. “Our curling is the end of March. The golf is the third week in August. And the hockey is the third week in October. And we try not to go into November because that’s when minor hockey has the bulk of their tournaments. “So, we don’t want to conflict with minor hockey. But at the golf tournament, we really didn’t have a hockey coordinator, someone to sort of look after the tournament. But we finally found one. And then we had to get an organizing committee. It takes a lot of work.” According to Komori, the fact that the tournament happened to coincide with the Fort Nelson Energy Expo this year was something of a mixed blessing. “The Energy Expo’s usually in September, so there’s no conflict,” he said. “In a way,” he continued, “it was kind of a good thing. We got more people out.” However, it may have also reduced the number of people available to play. “Some of our participants had to be at the Energy Expo and couldn’t play hockey,” said Komori. •

Team Bumper to Bumper.

Team Troyer Team Encana.

Team Kledo.

Team CE Franklin.

November 2011 I pipeline news north •


Chris Ford (left) of AGAT Laboratories presenting AGAT Laboratories Championship Cup to Derrick Seminchuk (centre) of Encana with Hockey Organizing Committee member Tyler Young (right).

Fred Klassen (centre) of Quigley Contracting presenting Quigley Contracting Championship Cup to Harry Wilson (right) of Pason Systems and Curt Lunn (left) of CE Franklin.

Team Pason.

Photos courtesy of Fort Nelson Petroleum Association and James Waterman

Students benefit from donated equipment Northern Lights College DAWSON CREEK – Students taking H2S Alive and Confined Space courses at Northern Lights College are the beneficiaries of a recent donation to the College by Action Health and Safety in Dawson Creek. The donation consisted of nine MMR Firehawk air packs and five air tanks that will be used by the students taking safety courses offered through the Workforce Training/Continuing Education department. The equipment allows workers to enter safely into confined spaces with potentially hazardous air. The equipment is valued at approximately $25,000. “This kind of donation is such a big help to our students and instructors, so we’re very grateful to Action Health and Safety,” said Howard Mayer, dean of Access, Business and International programs at NLC. NLC has Workforce Training departments located at each of its campuses in Chetwynd, Dawson Creek, Fort Nelson, Fort St. John and Tumbler Ridge. Action Health and Safety manager Dave Fogarty; NLC Workforce Training coordinator Ramona Nehring; Action Health and Safety owner Sandra Minifie; and NLC’s Howard Mayer pose with the donated equipment.


November 2011

careers 33876


WorleyParsons, fort St. John, BC We’re looking to grow our newly opened Fort St. John office with:

• A Junior Environmental Scientist/Engineer/Technician • A Internmediate/Senior Contaminated Sites Professional To learn more, phone Rhys Mersereau at 250-793-3993 or email your resume and cover letter to If you want to do great work with creative-thinking technical professionals, we offer competitive salaries, great benefits, and a commitment to professional development.

To book your career ad contact a sales rep today! • Tom Kirschner 780-625-2717 • Janis Kmet 250-782-4888 • Dan Pryzbylski 250-782-4888 • Ryan Wallace 250-785-5631 • Dan Pryzbylski 250-782-4888 Ad cost based on a line rate of .99 cents/line

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ditchin’ the ditch

- BPC Services’ trenchless pipelines james waterman Pipeline News North

BPC Services Group began offering trenchless pipeline construction about eighteen months ago. Operating in the mature oilfields of Alberta, they noticed that a lot of new construction was for short lines tying new wells into existing infrastructure. Many of those new lines were less than one kilometre in length, requiring pipe ranging from two inches to eight inches in diameter. So, BPC saw an opportunity to reduce ground disturbance by using directional drilling instead of excavating trenches. “To avoid various things like existing roads, pipelines and property issues,” said Martin Campbell, Trenchless Manager with BPC. Campbell noted this trenchless method can reduce ground disturbance by about 95 per cent over a conventional pipeline job. “It’s becoming more accepted in the industry all the time to use directional drills to do this work,” he added. “We think that our advantage is we have the equipment to actually quantify the condition of the pipe after it’s been placed.” The method can offer oil companies both practical and public relations benefits. “The company utilizing it definitely can [improve] their public relations by showing how proactive they are about not disturbing existing facilities and property,” said Campbell. It can also allow companies to get to work earlier. “They may have [had] issues previously where access was delayed due to things like crops, irrigation, wet season, things like that,” Campbell explained. “Those conditions affect trenchless pipelining a lot less than they do conventional open trenching.” Developing this service has taken some time and effort, one of the biggest challenges being containing drilling mud by not allowing the ground to fracture so mud makes its way to the surface. “Just good drilling practices and good training and good drilling products,” said Campbell, discussing how BPC deals with those issues. Applications for the trenchless methods extend beyond the mature fields where the idea was born. “We use our trenchless equipment for river crossings

BPC Services Group staff employing their new method of using directional drilling to install underground pipelines without digging trenches and thereby causing minimal ground disturbance. This job involved installing a four inch pipe over a distance of 865 metres through farmland and forested area. The route crossed paths with a major highway, an existing pipeline, telephone lines, fiber optic lines and power lines, none of which were disturbed thanks to this new technique. Photos courtesy of BPC Services Group.

and road crossings,” said Campbell. “Anything that has to be drilled underneath.” BPC also employs a “walk-over survey tool” that allows them to attain information such as depths and GPS coordinates of tie-ins without disturbing the surface.

“Plus, we can do an external coating survey to determine the condition of the external coating on the pipe, which is proactive in identifying areas of possible corrosion,” said Campbell. “There is no ground disturbance with that.” •

November 2011 I pipeline news north •

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locations that suit your business needs • distributed to the community in general through these fine publications, alaska highway news, dawson creek daily and Fort nelson news. • distribution by mail and direct drop-off to oil & Gas companies,and related businesses and organizations, in the following communities: British ColumBia – arras, baldonnel, cecil lake, charlie lake, chetWynd, clayhurst, daWson creeK, Farmington, Fort nelson, Fort st. John, Goodlow, Groundbirch, hudson’s hoPe, Moberley lake, Pink Mountain, Pouce coupe, Progress, rolla, rose Prairie, sunset Prairie, taylor, tomslake, tuMbler ridGe, and Wonowon. alBerta – baytree, bear canyon, beaVerlodGe, berwyn, bezanson, bonanza, clairMont, eaglesham, FairVieW, Falher, Girouxville, Grande Prairie, Grimshaw, Grovedale, hiGh Prairie, hines creek, hythe, laGlace, ManninG, Mclennan, Peace riVer, rycroft, seXsMith, silver Valley, spirit river, ValleyVieW, Wembley, and Worsley, Zama city.

32 • PIPELINE NEWS NORTH I November 2011 Strike Energy Services Inc. is a privately owned, Canadian company providing pipeline, facility construction, maintenance, electrical & instrumentation services to the energy industry.

JOIN OUR GROWING TEAM To support our continued growth we have a number of exciting career opportunities in our various locations including: CALGARY ESTIMATOR This Calgary based position is an important member of the operations team and works closely with Strike Energy’s executive and senior management as well as business unit staff. The primary focus of this role is to provide leadership for the full cycle development, management and submission of tenders and bids.


These roles are tied to specific projects that may be anywhere in western Canada and as such the work shifts are varied in accordance with the requirements of the project they are assigned to. Candidates for these roles may live anywhere in Alberta as long as they are able to travel to the project work site.


This position is an important member of the Projects Team. The primary focus of this role is to provide administrative support at a project site.


This position is an important member of the Projects Team. The primary focus of this role is to ensure that all work and turn-over documentation is done in accordance with Strike’s applicable Quality System Manual(s).


This position is an important member of the Projects Team. The primary focus of this role is to provide safety support to the Projects Team on various projects in the pipeline and facility construction industry.


This position is an important member of the Projects Team. The primary focus of this role is to ensure all welding applications conform to applicable welding procedures, customer specifications and all codes & standards.


Calgary Electrical and Instrumentation has openings for Electricians, Instrumentation Manager, and Instrumentation Technicians.


Crossfield Fabrication has openings for Pipefitters, Shop Welders (B Pressure by Hand) with Tig or Mig experience

ALL AREAS SUPERINTENDENT This regionally based position is an important member of the Operations Team. The Superintendent provides the overall on-site administrative and technical management for a project. Possessing wide-ranging technical and managerial skills, the Superintendent’s role is normally one of independent project supervision for small to medium-size projects or directing one major segment of a more extensive project. The Superintendent ensures the total construction effort is in accordance with design, budget and schedule, and reports to the Area Manager for their location. The incumbent must be willing to travel as the project demands.

SUPERINTENDENT TRAINEE This regionally based position is an important member of the Operations Team. Sponsored by an Area Manager, the Superintendent Trainee will receive “hands on” field experience, developing a broad range of supervisory, technical and administrative skills. Graduates of this program provide a core group of highly qualified candidates from which selections can be made to fill future supervisory and/or management roles.

E-mail your resume to Include the position for which you wish to be considered.

All applicants are thanked for their interest, however, only those short-listed are contacted. ADB17701

w w w. s t r i ke e n e r g y. c o m

Pipline News North  

November 25 2011 Edition

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