1920s - 1940s
The Canadian Petroleum Association (CPA) was one the oldest, largest and most influential lobby groups in Canada. Its origins can be traced back to the Alberta Oil Operators' Association which was founded in 1927. After the discovery of the Turner Valley Oil Field, the petroleum industry was faced with many unique and difficult problems. The Alberta Oil Operators' Association was formed to provide assistance in solving these problems.
As the production of natural gas and petroleum expanded and as optimism in Alberta's future grew, there came a need for an association which would benefit all branches of the industry. As a result, the Alberta Oil Operators' was reorganized in 1929 to form the Oil and Gas Association of Alberta. This Association merged in 1938 with the Petroleum Producers' Association (created the previous year by independent oil producers) to form the Alberta Petroleum Association. Throughout the 1940s, it provided industry members with the opportunity to express their views to government agencies.
The discovery of the Leduc No. 1 oil well in 1947 marked the beginning of a new era in petroleum exploration and production. As new oil and natural gas fields were discovered, Western Canadian petroleum operators were able to capture the prairie crude oil market replacing imports from the United States. It was also in 1947 that the Alberta Petroleum Association changed its name to the Western Canadian Petroleum Association and elected Fred M. Graham as its first president.
In 1952, the Western Canada Petroleum Association amalgamated with the Saskatchewan Operators' Association and adopted the name, Canadian Petroleum Association. The president of Royalite Oil Company Limited, C.U. Daniels was elected as the first chairman of the Board of Governors.
At a meeting on December 9, 1952, the CPA drafted a new constitution which outlined the objectives of the organization as follows:
- to establish better understanding between the petroleum and natural gas industry and the public
- to encourage cooperation between the petroleum and natural gas industry and federal, provincial and local governments, and other authoritative bodies
- to provide a forum for the discussion of matters affecting the welfare of its members
- to foster better understanding between the Association and purposes (source: 1977 Annual Report)
The affairs of the Canadian Petroleum Association came under the direction of an annually elected Board of Governors which also acted as a liaison with the federal government. The CPA's head office was located in Calgary. However, in order to facilitate the administration process, provincial divisions were established, each with its own Board of Directors. The Alberta and Saskatchewan Divisions were created in 1952 with offices set up in Calgary and Regina respectively. The British Columbia Division was opened in 1960 with an office in Victoria. The provincial divisions dealt with specific local issues.
On June 10, 1958 the CPA opened an office in Ottawa. It provided the federal government with information pertaining to the oil industry while keeping the CPA informed about political trends, government regulations and statistics. The principal Division, formed in 1966, was responsible for matters affecting the pipeline segments of the industry.
Most of the CPA's workload was handled by an extensive committee system which had evolved over the years. Issues which affected the petroleum industry were directed to the various committees for special analysis and study. While full-time CPA staff coordinated and assisted in the administration of committee activities, policy formulation was the responsibility of committee members, all volunteers. In addition to the standing committees (such as land, legal and accounting), special committees were often formed to deal with specific issues on a task-force basis.
Membership in the CPA was open to individuals, corporations, syndicates, and partnerships who were actively engaged in the oil and natural gas industry in Canada ("active" members) or who supported industry activity in a variety of ways ("associate" members). Refiners and marketers of petroleum products were not eligible for membership. Major exploration companies such as Shell, British Petroleum and Gulf Oil made up more than half of the CPA's membership.
1960s - 1970s
By 1965 the CPA had a membership of more than 200 members representing roughly 97 per cent of all oil and natural gas production in Canada.
After a period of modest growth in the 1960s, the Canadian oil and natural gas industry underwent rapid expansion in the 1970s becoming an important economic force. As oil and natural gas policy assumed a higher political profile, the CPA grew in influence and power. During this period, the CPA's structure and personnel underwent several changes in an effort to make the association more effective and responsive to the current needs of its member and key audiences. In 1978 the numerous committees of the CPA were replaced by general committees, each with several specialized committees organized along functional lines.
The higher crude oil prices of the 1970s enabled the CPA to expand its operations.
1980s - 1990s
In 1981, two years after the first commercial discovery at Hibernia off the coast of Newfoundland, the CPA opened an office in St. John's in cooperation with the Eastcoast Petroleum Operators' Association. Expansion continued despite the collapse of oil prices in the early 1980s. In 1983 the Eastcoast Petroleum Operators' Association merged with the Offshore Operators Division and was renamed the Frontier Division.
The Canadian Petroleum Association has played a vital role in the development of the oil and natural gas industry. Canada's energy policies are based on recommendations that the CPA spent two years preparing. These recommendations were adopted by the Progressive Conservative Party, the official opposition and later translated into government policy. In subsequent years, lower crude oil prices, reduced oilfield activity and a glut of oil on world markets forced the CPA to downsize its operations. Its membership was reduced to 63 companies representing about 70-80 per cent of Canada's oil and natural gas production. In October 1991, Executive Director Ian Smythe announced that the CPA was closing three of its six offices (Victoria, Regina and St. John's) and cutting back on a variety of activities in an effort to reduce spending.
In 1992, the CPA amalgamated with the Independent Petroleum Association of Canada (IPAC) to form the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP).