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Day in the Life: Rick – Manager, Regulatory—Surface Land, Stakeholder Relations, Environment & Regulatory

When Rick graduated from Lethbridge College’s Renewable Resource Management program, he thought he had three career choices. He could become a fish and wildlife officer, a forestry officer or a park ranger.

Such jobs were scarce in the late 1970s. So, Rick followed his father and brother into the energy sector and began working for an oilfield service company. He stayed with the industry for 42 years.

“I’ve learned you can’t stand still, and you can never say we have ‘the’ ultimate method,” Rick says.

Rick himself has never stood still—and he always keeps learning.

A Typical Day

In short, Rick’s days were about managing issues related to oil and gas regulations. Regulations could be from within his company, Canadian Natural Resources Limited, as well as various government departments and public agencies and boards charged with overseeing every facet of the industry.

“This also extends to landowners, occupants and non-government environmental organizations,” Rick says. “Essentially, it can involve anything needed to keep our activities running smoothly and compliantly.”

He stops short of calling any day typical.

“We could be meeting about a new policy or getting a policy amended so it’s more cost effective,” says Rick. “The crazy days are when there’s a major incident or problem that comes out of the blue.”

Most recently, major incidents have been floods and wildfire.

An Environmental Focus

Rick didn’t plan on a career in oil and gas. But his studies in natural resources and the environment merged after a few years of working at well sites. In 1980, the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) hired Rick as an area field inspector in Whitecourt, AB.

The ERCB was a provincial government agency charged with regulating existing energy operations and ruling on applications for new or expanded development and production.

Rick’s background in fish and wildlife management and a new certificate in lease construction and management from the Hinton Forestry Institute made him an early pioneer as ERCB increased their focus on the environment.

“At the time there were very few environment departments in Canada, including in government,” explains Rick. “My biggest challenge was learning as much as I could about how the oil and gas industry worked. On the plus side, I asked people to help me learn and they were happy to share what they were doing.”

He also found the time he’d spent on the farm and ranch with his grandparents, aunts and uncles while growing up gave him an understanding of the values of rural people in Alberta.

“It really helped me connect better with people and ask how everything was going.”

For some time now, he has used his interpersonal and communication skills more than any other on the job.

“There are many discussions about what is required versus what is right—they’re not always the same—and trying to determine a way forward,” Rick points out. “There are many stakeholders involved in planning and designing complex projects and activities and then executing them on the landscape.”

“I enjoyed working in the energy sector. I pretty much had my eyes and ears open for other jobs, but nothing looked as good as working in energy. When I reflect back, the work was good, but it really comes down to the people. I had some amazing mentors and it was enjoyable to work and learn with them. You connect to people and I like the can-do, get-‘er-done attitude. People always doubled down to get something done right.”

Rick, Diploma, Renewable Resource Management Certificate, Lease Construction & Management Professional Certification (ASET), Registered Engineering Technologist—Petroleum Bachelor of Science, Environmental Studies

A Life-long Career

In Rick’s more than four-decade career he weathered many industry ups and downs: price crashes, demand spikes, production battles and economic roller coasters. At times, he considered moving to another industry, but nothing ever appealed as much as oil and gas.

“I enjoyed working in the energy sector,” Rick says. “I pretty much had my eyes and ears open for other jobs, but nothing looked as good as working in energy.”

“When I reflect back, the work was good, but it really comes down to the people. I had some amazing mentors and it was enjoyable to work and learn with them. You connect to people and I like the can-do, get-‘er-done attitude. People always doubled down to get something done right.”

In July 2020, Rick officially retired. He calls his time in the industry a privilege.

“I have watched the sector continuously get better and better at what it does,” he says. “This has, of course, been driven by people and society learning . . . and wanting things to be the best. I would say Canada has come a very long way and does energy excellently.”

Company

Canadian Natural Resources Limited

Location

Calgary, Alberta

Salary

$53,000 to $171,000

Education

Diploma, Renewable Resource Management

Certificate, Lease Construction & Management

Professional Certification (ASET), Registered Engineering Technologist—Petroleum

Bachelor of Science, Environmental Studies

Salary, education and advancement may vary from company to company.

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