2010 Steward of Excellence Recipient
The Horn River Basin Producers Group consists of 11 companies working together to develop the Horn River Basin, a shale gas play north of Fort Nelson, B.C. that has the potential to be Canada’s first large-scale, commercial shale gas operation.
The companies - Apache, ConocoPhillips, Devon, EnCana, EOG Resources, Imperial Oil, Nexen, Pengrowth, Suncor, Quicksilver and Stone Mountain – are collaborating to facilitate open communication, understand stakeholder and First Nations concerns, minimize environmental impacts and maximize benefits to the area.
“We’re seeing an unprecedented amount of collaboration and sharing of information and it’s really paying off for our stakeholders, First Nations and the community at large,” says Rob Spitzer, chair of the Producers Group. “We’ve been able to maximize benefits to the people in the Fort Nelson area beyond what each company could have done individually.”
Each company is represented by a senior manager on a Producers Group steering committee which along with several sub committees meets regularly to ensure a coordinated approach to a variety of activities and initiatives in the community.
The Producers Group supported and participated in the Horn River Basin Economic Development Symposium in 2008 to hear concerns from the community and share development plans. In 2009, the group went back to the community with the Horn River Basin Activity Update.
As employment is a big concern in the area, the Producers Group started the Fort Nelson Energy Expo. The first career fair in 2008 had 40 exhibitors, including member companies, service companies from across Western Canada, local vendors, educational institutions and career service agencies. More than half of the exhibitors either hired someone or took contact information for potential employment. In 2009, the career fair almost doubled to 70 exhibitors.
To help the community provide the skills and training needed for long term employment in the region, the Producers Group provided funding for an Oil and Gas Field Operations Training Program at the Fort Nelson campus of Northern Lights College. The first installment’s 16 spaces filled up within weeks.
In order to improve vendor relations, the Producers Group partnered with Energy Services BC to provide the funding for a local procurement specialist to liaise between local vendors and the oil and gas companies. The Producers Group also created a local employment scorecard to track the use of local vendors.
“For the Producers Group to succeed and deliver all these initiatives, each company had to integrate economic, social and environmental factors with the technical development of shale gas,” says Spitzer.
The mayor of Northern Rockies Regional Municipality, Bill Streeper, says he looks forward to continued collaboration with the Producers Group as: “they advance the issues confronting all stakeholders, including capitalizing on regional autonomy and local employment issues, collaborating and relationship building with First Nation Communities and their sustained efforts for innovative capacity building.”
By working on all fronts, regulatory, operations, communications and environmental the Producers Group is ensuring that the Horn River Basin is developed responsibly and practically.