Pat Carlson Put Profits And Community On The Same Footing: Canadian Petroleum Hall Of Fame Inductee Profile

Pat Carlson. Image: Seven Generations

The Canadian Petroleum Hall of Fame Society is honouring six men and women as its 2018 inductees at a special luncheon Nov. 23 at the Calgary Petroleum Club. In a series to be published weekly on the Daily Oil Bulletin and websites, writer R.P. Stastny profiles each of the inductees. Today: Pat Carlson.

Pat Carlson made community relations a hallmark of Seven Generations Energy Ltd. That philosophy helped the company become a multibillion-dollar natural gas producer, which sustained phenomenal growth even during the most punishing oil and gas downturn in a generation.

“Pat’s commitment to providing opportunities and stronger communities for future generations runs deep, and it is unwavering,” says Don Gnatiuk, president and CEO of Grande Prairie Regional College.

Seven Generations was the last of four successful startups that Pat built over a 40-year career. The name of the company refers to an ancient Iroquois principle that the decisions we make today should result in a sustainable world seven generations into the future.

Like many of its peers, Seven Generations helps fund hospitals and scholarships in its region of operations and works to hire local contractors. Pat’s approach took that further by setting up an operational headquarters in Grande Prairie and building a company culture of stakeholder engagement. This helped Seven Generations understand and respond to local issues.

Seeing the transportation challenges faced by members of the local Horse Lake First Nation when seeking employment, education, training and health care, Seven Generations co-founded a bussing initiative that shuttled people between the First Nation and Grande Prairie each morning and afternoon.

After a trip to the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Grand Prairie, Pat engaged Seven Generations to help the Hospital Foundation improve healthcare. The company launched an annual charity golf tournament that has raised more than $1.7 million for the Foundation.

Seven Generations also works with the local college, providing scholarships, while the company and its employees form a visible and integral part of the community.

Pat earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from the University of Calgary in 1975. As a professional engineer, he went to work for major producers: BP Exploration Canada Ltd. and, in 1979, Husky Oil Operations Ltd.

Gaining experience in reservoir, drilling, completions and production engineering in both heavy oil and conventional oil and gas, Pat moved into his first executive role with Stampeder Exploration Limited in 1996.

After the sale of Stampeder a year later, Pat co-founded his first private energy company, Passage Energy, in 1999. In 2002, he co-founded Krang Energy. Both companies were backed by private equity and both were successful endeavours for employees and shareholders.

“Pat has a combination of unique personal strengths and gifts that rarely manifest so successfully in one individual,” says Peter Williams, managing partner, CEO of Annapolis Capital and Pat’s former business partner in Passage and Krang.

Clarity of vision in identifying opportunities that others pass over, discipline to pursue that vision and credibility with capital providers make up the foundation of Pat’s entrepreneurial spirit. Hiring the best-in-class technical people and a community-focused company culture complete his approach to business.

Pat also had the confidence to pioneer through innovation. From the early adoption of steam assisted gravity drainage in his third start up, North American Oil Sands, to the adoption of high-tech drill bits, championing the development of efficient super pads and assembling a real-time operating centre to monitor and sustain wells, Pat’s hands-on approach to the technical side of the business helped improve operational processes and minimize environmental impacts.

Pat stepped down as chief executive of Seven Generations in 2017, after nine years at the helm. From his list of career achievements, perhaps Pat’s biggest contribution to the oil and gas industry, says Michael Kanovsky, chief executive office of Sky Energy Group, “is the influence he has on people. Pat inspires everyone he works with to be curious, passionate and fearless in trying new endeavours with innovative approaches.”

Leading by example, Pat showed people how to think critically with a holistic mindset. He encouraged and helped develop and mentor industry leaders and innovators that went on to create value for shareholders and communities.

“When Pat dips his toes in the water, he causes ripples that benefit many and last for generations,” Kanovsky says. “And when Pat is part of a project, he doesn’t just dip his toe in, he dives in headlong with determination and a passion to serve.”

Pat’s contributions to the industry have been recognized by the Schulich School of Engineering with the Canadian Engineering Leader Award (2013). In October 2015, he was awarded the Prairies EY Entrepreneur of the Year for Oil and Gas. In 2016, the Grande Prairie Chamber of Commerce awarded him Business Citizen of the Year. In 2017, the Alberta Chamber of Resources presented Pat with its Resource Leadership Award for his unique leadership style in pushing the boundaries of innovation and technology “to levels that define leading performance.”

Pat and his wife Connie have also touched many lives through personal donations of more than $4 million to Pat’s alma mater, the University of Calgary, specifically for the Schulich School of Engineering and the Strengths in ADHD Research Project, as well as numerous other charitable organizations.

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