Rising Stars 2021: Midstream Company Lawyer Thrives On Intellectual Challenge
Editor’s note: We’ll finish running all Rising Stars Class of 2021 profiles this week. Today, we profile Martha Peden.
When oil and gas companies face the myriad of regulatory approvals required for a new project, an essential member of the team is their regulatory counsel.
And for her part, Martha Peden, vice-president of regulatory and public affairs at NorthRiver Midstream Inc., relishes the variety of that work. “Every day is an intellectual challenge, which I thrive on,” she says. “I’m fortunate that I work with incredibly bright people at NorthRiver and that I have a fantastic team.”
Peden also enjoys the interaction with Indigenous communities, government agencies, regulators and other stakeholders. “It’s very interesting meeting all these different parties in the oil and gas industry,” she says.
Another reason she likes her job is that it’s fast paced and competitive. “At NorthRiver, we challenge ourselves to be nimble, pivot quickly if needed and come up with creative solutions for our customers.”
Her interest in law was sparked by her work with the refugee and immigrant community in Hamilton while taking an arts and science degree at McMaster University. “I think through that experience I realized the importance of having an advocate and being an advocate,” she says.
Peden went on to earn a law degree from the University of Alberta and later took a one-year sabbatical from work to obtain a master’s of laws degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science. After six years practising commercial litigation and regulatory law at Norton Rose Fulbright Canada L.L.P., she joined FortisAlberta as in-house counsel before moving to NorthRiver in 2019. “I got into the oil and gas business in part to keep up with my husband [a production manager] in the business,” she jokes.
At NorthRiver, a three-year-old company owned by Brookfield Infrastructure, Peden’s work has been focused on the regulatory side of its growth and maintenance capital projects, as well as assisting with government relations and the lands group.
She also has been involved in Indigenous and community relations, negotiating agreements with Indigenous communities, engaging with them on NorthRiver projects, and assisting with activities related to the company’s community investment program.
Peden agrees that Indigenous companies and groups are expecting more of the oil and gas sector in light of new projects on First Nation traditional lands.
“In terms of being innovative, I think there’s an opportunity for oil and gas companies to be creative in working with Indigenous communities,” she says. “I think that is a way to be a good neighbour in the communities in which we operate, but to also progress economic reconciliation and ensure meaningful engagement.”
Peden notes that Tamara Trull, her boss and a key mentor in her career, has paved the way at NorthRiver in developing initiatives such as its Indigenous contracting initiative, which seeks to meaningfully progress Indigenous inclusion in contracting and procurement opportunities.
She also believes that regulators will have higher expectations of companies, especially in terms of cumulative effects. “In the near future, we will likely see the development of a framework for dealing with cumulative effects through the B.C. permitting process, and an obligation on companies to bring forward innovative solutions in dealing with these effects.”
Rather than being reactive, though, companies are better served working with communities and being at the table talking to them early and often about their project and incorporating that feedback into project planning, she suggests.
Apart from work, Peden, who grew up on a farm in rural Ontario, has always been involved in volunteering in the community. “For me, it’s about meeting people from different backgrounds and giving back to those who are less fortunate than you,” she says.
While Peden recently had to resign from the board of the Women’s Centre due to other priorities, it “really opened my eyes to a whole different part of Calgary, [people] who are facing day-to-day issues of survival and just trying to get by. It reminded me of how fortunate I am to have an incredible support network of family and friends as well as to have had the educational and career opportunities that have brought me to where I am today.”
Rising Stars: Sponsors
Fluor has provided engineering, procurement, fabrication, construction, and project management services to Canada’s energy industry for 72 years. Its 43,000 employees globally (and 3,000+ across Canada) deliver comprehensive services — from conceptual design through to commissioning and maintenance — for all types and sizes of facilities. Fluor applies its broad expertise, extensive experience, and proven technology to benefit Canada’s energy transition in areas such as liquefied natural gas, carbon capture, hydrogen, renewable fuels, small modular reactors, and minerals mining. Fluor is committed to positively contributing to Canada’s energy tomorrow by focusing on safe and sustainable solutions today. This commitment includes focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion to ensure opportunities represent the diversity of Canada’s population and support reconciliation, partnerships, and benefit-sharing with Indigenous peoples.
geoLOGIC systems ltd.
geoLOGIC systems ltd. is based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and has been providing high-quality, integrated data and analytics to the upstream oil and gas industry in Western Canada and elsewhere for almost 40 years. geoLOGIC’s relentless focus on innovation, quality, and service has made it the trusted standard in the upstream Canadian industry. Customers include exploration and production companies in oil & gas and related products; pipeline and midstream companies; service companies; the financial sector government and regulatory organizations, and educational institutions. Key products include geoSCOUT, a decision-support tool providing high quality data and analytics for all disciplines within the oil and gas industry, and gDC, geoLOGIC’s comprehensive upstream oil and gas database.