Business Development

Corporate Responsibility

Business Development

At Canadian Natural, we believe that business development within the areas where we operate leads to sustainable community development. We engage with businesses and community leaders to identify and promote local and regional economic opportunities through the procurement of goods and services for our operations. In doing so, we support communities to build their capacity through new and existing businesses.

We also work with businesses and contractors to increase social and economic participation of residents and Indigenous communities, hiring qualified local employees and suppliers so the communities where we operate can benefit from oil and natural gas development.

Indigenous Business Development and Employment

We work closely with more than 83 Indigenous companies near our operations in Western Canada to enhance business development and assist in the pre-qualification process. Through our work with local suppliers, we have developed successful partnerships with community owned, individually owned and joint venture owned companies. We awarded more than $500 million in Indigenous contracts in 2018.

We participate in Indigenous business advisory groups and work with chambers of commerce, connecting with Indigenous communities and service providers, and relaying important issues back to all levels of government. This way, we support business development by improving the understanding our pre-qualification, procurement and bidding processes, while strengthening the local contractor community. For example, participate in the Northeastern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association (NAABA), the Region One Aboriginal Business Association (ROABA), the Athabasca Tribal Council (ATC), the Atoske Action Group (AAG), the Grande Prairie Aboriginal Circle of Services (GPACOS) and the Peace River Aboriginal Interagency Committee (PRAIC). For more information on our pre-qualification process read our Working with contractors section.

Canadian Natural’s community representatives also share information about our projects and participate in several Joint Management Advisory and Joint Cooperation Committees, which provide a forum to discuss ongoing operations, employment and business opportunities. We also sponsor programs that aim to increase the number of skilled Indigenous tradespeople. Read more about these programs in our Education and Training and Creating Employment Opportunities sections.

Working Together - Business Partnerships

One of the keys to running our diverse operations effectively and efficiently is building and maintaining strong relationships with hundreds of contractor companies. Working together with locally owned businesses to provide services for our field operations creates mutual value for regional economies where we operate and for our business, building local capacity and long-term relationships with stakeholders. These businesses cover everything from engineering and construction to food and camp services, and they are also a vital source of community-based skills training, investment and prosperity.

Building local capacity in Wabasca for 20 years

Canadian Natural has been in the Wabasca-Desmerais area for 22 years, working with many Bigstone Cree Nation (BCN) companies. These companies have supported the development of seasonal workers into a skilled workforce prepared to work on day-to-day operations for the oil and natural gas industry.

One of these companies is Eric Auger & Sons Contracting. Eric Auger started his logging company back in the late 70s. After learning the skills to operate mechanical equipment, the transition into oilfield services and construction was a natural progression for this family business. “We have grown alongside Canadian Natural over the years,” explains son and current business partner, Dennis Auger. Today, the company is employing the third generation of family and workers from within their local community.

Similarly, Larry Cardinal was in the logging business before taking over management of Bigstone Oilfield Services and Supplies (BOSS). “When BOSS was first established, we ran our business out of a utility trailer with only a handful of employees,” said Larry. “We are proud to say after 11 years we are a leading employer in the Wabasca region, with an average of 60% of production coming from Canadian Natural.”

Schroder Oilfield Service is another BCN band member providing oilfield services. “My vision was to train people locally so they could be successful in what they do,” said Felix Schroder, Owner, President and CEO. “If members are succeeding, then our company and our community can succeed. Not only have both our companies benefited from working together, but also community members benefit and can succeed themselves.”

From left to right: Dennis Auger (General Manager), Gloria Auger-Yellowknee (Office Manager), John Auger (Shop Manager) and Eric Auger (Company Founder).

Working with local businesses at our thermal operations

At our Kirby South operations, the breadth and depth of expertise and services offered by local contractors extends from general field services and maintenance to construction and manufacturing.

One of those businesses is Crude Energy Services Inc., a majority First Nation owned field services and manufacturing company since 2005. Crude Energy got its start performing small picker and pipe-fitting jobs, and over the years its services have evolved. ”The employment we provide supports 70 families, and I have always measured our success by the number of families we support,” said President Peter Mahowich, a Beaver Lake Cree Nation band member.

Another local company and business partner is Conklin Services Inc. This Métis owned company providing janitorial services in the region has been working with Canadian Natural since 2013. “A key aspect of working with Canadian Natural is the contractual opportunity as a locally owned business, thus having the ability to hire and continue to employ individuals locally,” said Veronica Quintal, Conklin Services’ owner.

Canadian Natural has worked with Seven Lakes Oilfield Services Corporation for the last 10 years at our Primrose thermal in situ operations. In 2018, Seven Lakes celebrated six years incident-free at Primrose South. Seven Lakes is a subsidiary of Primco Dene and Pimee Well Servicing Ltd., and owned by seven First Nations: Cold Lake First Nation, Frog Lake First Nation, Kehewin Cree Nation, Saddle Lake Cree Nation, Goodfish Lake First Nation, Beaver Lake Cree Nation and Heart Lake First Nation. Cold Lake First Nation owns 50% and the other six Nations split the other 50% evenly.

Seven Lakes commenced operations in 2002, with one hauling truck to start their Waste Management Division. Today, their services include scaffolding, general oilfield services, trades personnel, civil road maintenance and insulators. The company has more than 320 employees from across Canada; 80% of them are Indigenous, with 50% from the core Nations.

Another business we work with is Iron Horse Janitorial LP — a subsidiary of Primco Dene, a company wholly owned by Cold Lake First Nations. Iron Horse provides cleaning services, with 48 employees from 19 First Nations settlements and communities. The company prides itself on fostering a healthy, safe and positive work environment through several mechanisms, including a two-way communication agreement to help resolve work conflict, and a Health and Safety Training Program that welcomes staff input and feedback to enhance safe practices and procedures.

“Iron Horse has a long and very positive relationship with Canadian Natural, and working together has made a huge impact on our company,” says Kim Wetemcamp, Regional General Manager at Iron Horse. “Iron Horse employs four full-time Indigenous employees at the Primrose and Wolf Lake (PAW) site. Being able to offer full-time, stable employment is vital to our success and we appreciate Canadian Natural for utilizing our services and fostering a positive working relationship with us built on mutual trust and respect.”

Left: Seven Lakes employees with Canadian Natural staff at the Primrose South plant. Right: Iron Horse staff at Primco Dene head office staff in Cold Lake

Working together, sharing the same values in the oil sands region

We are proud to work with companies that share our strong commitment to worker safety and Indigenous employment. “Our work with stakeholders is an important means of supporting and strengthening the communities which many of our employees call home,” said Jay Froc, Senior Vice-President, Oil Sands Mining and Upgrading, Canadian Natural. “Maintaining strong and mutually beneficial relationships with local, Indigenous-owned companies is one of the important ways we’re able to do this.

Acden was founded in 1994 by former Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) Chief Tony Mercredi, who recognized the potential for economic growth through the shared development of resources in the oil sands. Acden started with a labour services waste management contract and 10 employees, and has grown to be one of Canada’s largest Indigenous corporations, with 18 companies and more than 3,000 employees.

Today, Acden’s companies provide services for the planning, construction, maintenance and reclamation of Alberta’s oil sands. “Working with Canadian Natural not only has a positive impact on our business but directly impacts our ownership, the ACFN,” said Garry K. Flett, Acden’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

“Our focus is on creating and maintaining gainful employment, and providing economic benefit for the ACFN by providing safe, high quality and innovative services”, said Mitch Mercredi, Acden’s Business Development Manager. “Doing this while respecting our shared environment is of the utmost importance to Acden.”

Rimfire Solutions is the sole provider of soft drink machine ‘free-vend’, coffee and tea services at our oil sands mining operations. The company is a member of the Northeastern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association (NAABA) and its owner, Peter Hansen, is a member of both the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 1, and Fort McMurray Métis Local 1935. “Canadian Natural is currently our largest partner and by partnering with them, Rimfire was able to create transparent programs through technologies, as well as improved controls, which has led to our success and expansion to other partners,” said Peter.

Interior of Acden’s LEED Gold certified corporate headquarters, including living wall.

Building capacity and creating jobs in our heavy oil operations

Mike and Tracy Jacknife purchased their first fluid hauling truck in 1997 and started hauling produced water for Canadian Natural on the Elizabeth Métis Settlement. Soon after, Jacknife Oilfield Services secured a contract to also haul the crude oil on the settlement and later on diversified its services. Today, the company has more than 100 pieces of equipment and 80 employees, with 70% of direct employees being Indigenous.

Mike has worked with clients and insurance companies so that drivers could receive proper training and gain the experience required to be allowed on worksites. Many drivers he personally trained have been in the company for more than 15 years.

”This Indigenous employment and training initiative has not only offered jobs to members of the local First Nations and Métis Settlements, but also the chance to gain valuable skills to make them employable,” said Mike.

The company maintains a strong community presence through donations and volunteer hours, and was a finalist for the Alberta Aboriginal Business of the Year Award – Alberta Business Award of Distinction, in 2018 and 2019.