Building local capacity in Wabasca for 20 years

Corporate Responsibility

Building local capacity in Wabasca for 20 years

At Canadian Natural, we work with local companies and businesses in the areas where we operate to help develop partnerships and build local capacity. We have been in the Wabasca-Desmerais area for 22 years, working with many Bigstone Cree Nation (BCN) companies. These businesses are a vital source of community-based skills training, investment and prosperity. They have supported the development of seasonal workers into a skilled workforce prepared to work on day-to-day operations, from well maintenance to facility and pipeline construction for the oil and natural gas industry.

One of these companies is Eric Auger & Sons Contracting, with over 25 years of oilfield services experience. “We have grown alongside Canadian Natural over the years,” explains son and business partner, Dennis Auger. This working relationship and continues to play a big role in the development of Canadian Natural’s Pelican Lake operations.

Eric Auger started his own 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. Today, the company is employing the third generation of family and workers from within their local community.

With a vision for the future, this family-led business also runs Auger Construction & Energy Services (ACES), a piping construction company. This business division was started to meet rising industry demand while securing additional employment opportunities for the increasingly skilled local workforce. The Auger family places great emphasis on education and training. Dennis says, “This is where ACES comes in. We are here to stay. I can’t imagine my family being anywhere else.”

Similarly, Larry Cardinal was in the logging business before taking over management of Bigstone Oilfield Services and Supplies (BOSS). Canadian Natural and BOSS have been working together for several years. “Throughout the years, Canadian Natural has had a major hand in helping BOSS grow and expand. When BOSS was first established, we ran our business out of a utility trailer with two offices and only a handful of employees. We are proud to say after 11 years of business we are a leading employment provider in the Wabasca region, with an average of 60% of production coming from Canadian Natural.”

Another company aligned with this mission is Schroder Oilfield Service, also a BCN band member providing essential services from road and well site construction to facility and pipeline work. Over the years, Felix Schroder, Owner, President and CEO, has encouraged young people to go into apprenticeships and witnessed them start their own businesses in the local community.

“When I started this company in 2001, it was me and a tool truck,” says Felix. “My vision was to train people locally so they could be successful in what they do. I’ve always said that if members are succeeding, then our company and our community can succeed. We’ve been growing our company alongside Canadian Natural by working together, solving problems together and moving forward — this is how you grow. Not only both our companies (Schroder and Canadian Natural) have 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).