Message from CHOA president Scott Rempel

CHOA president Scott Rempel

This article is part of the Spring 2018 edition of the Journal of the Canadian Heavy Oil Association.


Welcome to the first edition of the new Journal of the Canadian Heavy Oil Association (CHOA) online. Just like our industry, we’re changing the way we deliver value so that it continues to meet the needs of our members and our community.

Our industry continues to evolve in this new normal of lower prices and global oil abundance, and we are starting to see some signs of success. We are far from the heady days of one million bbls/d of capacity under construction, but we are seeing some positive momentum with a few new growth projects underway, and the regulatory approval process initiated for large new future facilities.

Our operating costs are down significantly, and we’re working hard to decrease the investment capital required for growth. We’ve increased production without increasing water requirements, and more and more companies are talking about achieving oilsands production that has greenhouse gas emissions intensity that is comparable to or than better than the average North American crude. We’re showing that innovation works, but we still have to get better.

We’re faced with many challenges in heavy oil and oilsands, and it’s critically important that we continue to connect with each other to share ideas and strategies about how to innovate and succeed — from processes and technology to human resources and sustainability. Our companies often compete, but we can also learn a lot from each other with our shared overall goal of continuous improvement.

That’s what we do at CHOA, and the Journal is one of our key tools. We’ve taken it online so that we can reach and connect more people, so you can share our content more easily, and ultimately so that more valuable information exchange and networking opportunities occur.

It’s what we do in person at CHOA events throughout the year. Recently we hosted our first Vendor Showcase, where we had over 120 attendees and heard from companies such as ABB, AVEVA, Promore, Hunting, Tundra, and Blue Spark. Feedback from attendees was terrific; In fact one person from a major oilsands producer said it was great to spend half a day and get educated on companies, services, and technologies, without the burden of reaching out specifically to each company and organizing meetings and presentations.

We also recently hosted an Innovation Workshop with Kinetica where we were given a couple of tools that allow us to articulate value propositions and business models in straight forward and graphical way.

Innovation is what is moving our industry forward, and it’s not just about innovation in our physical environment, but innovation in our business and social environment.

At CHOA, we’re building on a rich history of technical knowledge sharing and networking. This spring we’ll host our 26th annual Slugging it Out conference, in partnership with SPE.

Slugging it Out provides a unique environment to collaborate with industry professionals and promote the success of all heavy and extra heavy oil projects. Presentations will focus on project updates, performance and reservoir case studies, new and emerging ideas and technologies, facility design and project economics. We’re very proud that the format of the event encourages open dialogue with the attendees and presenters to maximize knowledge sharing and learning.

As we look back on 2017 and move into 2018/2019, we will take note that 2017 was the year where our board made a significant shift from the governance model of years past and took on full accountability for operations and delivery. For those of you who have been with the association as long as I have, you might say it’s a nod to our past where that’s exactly the role that the board played.

We recast our strategic priorities and have come up with a number of exciting stretch goals that will allow us to get back to growth, gain far more relevance with our owner and producer community, provide a better volunteer experience for our members, and present better promotional opportunities to our sponsors.

We’re changing the composition of our board to reflect more owner operators, and are adding five new board members to deliver on our strategic plan and lead us forward to our vision of being essential and sustainable in our industry.

We’ve put a great deal of focus in recent months on understanding the needs of heavy oil and oilsands project owners, particularly in regards to our technical program. As a result of this work we are making changes so that we offer content that’s the most relevant. This includes partnering with other associations and subject matter experts to go deeper on certain topics.

Thank you for the support of our association and for attending our events. Together we’re stronger and we’re honoured to play a part in that.

Scott Rempel

CHOA president