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Taking Care of Petroleum Land Business

Todd Whitehead, Land Analyst, Enerplus, in his Calgary office.
Todd Whitehead, Land Analyst, Enerplus, in his Calgary office.

Leading up to the 2014 CAPLA Conference, we are profiling some of the first graduates of our Petroleum Land Business program.

Todd Whitehead earned his Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Calgary in 2004. He had worked in accounting for Zargon Oil and Gas for several years when he realized that his preference was to work in land.

“In accounting, it’s like you’re providing a service to the company. Whereas in land, you feel like you’re part of the operation. Your decisions affect the company.”

He worked as a broker with Calgary’s Standard Land Co. Inc. and looked for an educational program. As an alumnus, Todd thought that the U of C’s Petroleum Land Management degree program looked promising. “But U of C won’t let alumni take their PLM program,” he says.

Without an official credential Todd found it challenging to obtain employment in his chosen field, so he was pleased when MRU launched the Petroleum Land Business program.

He appreciated that all of the classes were taught by industry professionals with a combination of theory and hands-on practice in land business. “The fact that the classes were taught in the evenings was great,” Todd says. “It would have been difficult to juggle work and daytime classes.”

Todd is now a Land Contracts Analyst with Enerplus. “I had to hit the ground running,” he says. “Without the knowledge I got in the program, it would have been even more challenging.”

Born and raised in Red Deer, Todd appreciates the many opportunities in Calgary’s oil patch. “I came for school and never left,” he says. His wife is an engineer who also works in oil and gas. They are expecting their first child this summer.

by Karen McCarthy

Oil and Gas Grad Manages Northern Resources

Johnny Lennie, Manager of Oil & Gas
Johnny Lennie, Manager of Oil & Gas for the Northwest Territories, in front of a Beaufort Sea oil and gas map.

Leading up to the 2014 CAPLA Conference, we are profiling some of the first graduates of our Petroleum Land Business program.

Johnny Lennie has worked in the oil industry in Canada’s North for over 30 years, from moving rigs to constructing roads to building leases. He wanted to move into a management role and sought education to support his career goals.

Johnny, based in Inuvik, is now Manager of Oil and Gas for the Government of the Northwest Territories. He completed Mount Royal’s Petroleum Land Business Extension Certificate in June 2013.

“I’ve got lots going on,” Johnny says. That’s a bit of an understatement: the NWT gained decision-making power over resources from the federal government. The devolution officially took hold as of April 1, 2014.

Johnny was one of the first graduates of the Petroleum Land Business program. He came to Calgary for classes, renting a room from his daughter and her family. “I was glad to be able to help them out. My wife came too, to spend time with our grandchildren, otherwise I don’t think she would have let me come,” he says with a chuckle.

Johnny was raised in Inuvik and has been married for 35 years. He has five adult children. One son works seasonally on Alberta oil rigs. His son-in-law works as a welder in Fort McMurray.

Johnny started the 11-course Petroleum Land Business program when it was launched in the fall of 2011. At roughly the same time the territorial and federal governments reached an agreement in principle for the devolution of lands and resources to the territories.

MRU’s program was a good fit for Johnny’s new role. He knew that the new territorial legislation would mirror federal acts, so the majority of the reports he wrote during the program were related to existing acts such as the Canadian Petroleum Resources Act, the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act and the National Energy Board Act.

Oil and gas activity in the NWT has increased over the past few years. One major project under Johnny’s management is the Canol Oil Shale play in the Central Mackenzie District. Exploration is a challenge without existing infrastructure such as roads into the area.

He highly recommends Mount Royal’s program. “We need new and bright minds to figure out how to extract resources economically and responsibly in Canada’s Arctic,” says Johnny. “The territorial government supports development however is proactive on protecting the environment for future generations.”

by Karen McCarthy