Contracts Analyst Negotiates Success in the Oil Patch

Kristi Peterson_PLA

Kristi Peterson has experienced steady growth in her career with the Land Department at the Pengrowth Energy Corporation over the past 15 years. She is now a Contracts Analyst. “I’m working my way up into actually drafting the agreements. I’m working with the partners and working with precedents, but I’m actually negotiating and doing the various agreements within Land. I’m not just reading them anymore, I’m writing them,” she says. She is a graduate of MRU’s Petroleum Land Administration: Land Contracts Extension Certificate as well as a previous certificate, Petroleum Land Administration: Foundation.

Kristi started at Pengrowth in 1999 as the office clerk. “I saw the Land Department and it looked like they were having fun. So I talked to the supervisor Diane Scott – she’s still my supervisor – and she got me going to the Mount Royal courses. And I got promoted to be the Land Assistant, then Mineral Land Administrator, and then Contracts Analyst, working in contract land. I love it,” she says.

Kristi completed her certificate programs while working at Pengrowth. “It took me about ten years to do the Foundation certificate [the previous Land Administration program]. Having kids and being pregnant, I’d take one course a year and try to keep going,” she says. “I was able to be promoted even before I finished the certificate.”

Kristi’s role revolves around working with partners. “If we want to drill a well, we have to acquire the lands, whether they’re Crown or freehold. We do a Joint Operating Agreement (JOA). If you have a partner with whom you’re going to drill that well, then you need an agreement to govern those working interests. If it’s a gas well, you have to pool it, and then there’d be a pooling agreement. There can be multiple partners – the main role in contracts being working with partners,” she notes.

She is also a busy mom with two children aged 6 and 9. They are busy with after-school activities including soccer, hockey and gymnastics. Kristi is coaching soccer this year. “I volunteer a lot at school,” she says. “Actually I’m able to work four days a week so I’m very involved in the school.”

Kristi’s husband works at Shaw and was a great support as she went through the certificate programs. “It’s good to have one of us out of oil and gas with it being so volatile,” she says.

Curt Hamrell
Curt Hamrell

Calgary’s oil patch can be a small world. Kristi’s instructor for the MRU Land Agreements course, which she took while pregnant with her second child, was Curt Hamrell, a 30-year veteran of the industry. “In that class we taught the most used document in the industry, the NOA (Notice of Assignment).”

When Kristi returned to Pengrowth from her maternity leave, she found that Curt had joined Pengrowth as a consultant in Acquisitions and Divestitures.

“Occasionally we’ll do a little work together,” Curt says. “I’m A&D and she’s day-to-day, so if her area’s affected by a sale she will be contacted and kept in the loop.”

“Curt’s always there, too, to answer questions if you need him to, for his contractual needs,” Kristi notes.

Curt has been teaching at Mount Royal for ten years, starting when he was volunteering with a leading energy industry association, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Land Administration (CAPLA).

“Once you get into Land you realize how much there is to learn,” Curt says. “I’ve been at it for 30 years and I’m still learning every day. I find teaching is the best way to learn because I have to know the answers.”

Kristi Peterson

“The students at Mount Royal usually already have experience — from one or two years to ten or even twenty years — and they want to get that certificate and add to their education. There’s a lot of people who have taken the same certificate and have it posted on their wall,” Curt says.

“Both mine are on my wall,” Kristi says. “In oil and gas, when it’s good it’s really good. And when it’s bad it’s really bad. So far I’ve made it through every recession, able to keep my job and just hope for the best. We know there’s going to be an upswing, you just kind of hang on and wait it out,” Kristi notes. “It’s a good time to dig into those agreements you just haven’t been able to get to.”

“We all know that it’s going to come back. It’s just a matter of when,” says Curt.

— by Karen McCarthy
— photos by Karen McCarthy

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