HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES
- 2007 -
Les was born in Dodsland, Saskatchewan in 1936 and grew up in Coleville, a town near the Alberta border named after his grandfather.
His experience with the petroleum industry started at a very young age. One of the earliest oil wells in the province was drilled behind their family’s farmhouse by Royalite Oil. With no restaurant in town, his mom used to fix lunches for the rig crews.
It was no surprise that Les studied to be a chemical engineer at the University of Alberta and went to work for Royalite during the summers and after graduation.
By 1968, he had moved on to King Resources, where he eventually became the chief engineer. In 1973, he filled the same role at Brascan, where he rose to the position of production manager.
In 1978, during the OPEC oil embargo, Les decided it was time to start his own company. With the founding of Seaward Energy Ltd., he put his practical experience to work to explore oil and gas. During the recession in the early ‘80s, he shelved the company and went back to work as an engineer, this time for Ultramar Oil and Gas Canada.
According to Les’ son, Todd, Les’s crowning achievement was building Battle Creek Developments, later called Strike Energy, a junior exploration and production company.
By the time the company went public on the Vancouver Stock Exchange two years later, the company’s value had gone from 3 cents a share to $1.10.
At its peak, Strike Energy produced 5,900 barrels of oil per day and had a staff of 74, including 32 field employees.
Les was a true pioneer and one of the classic gentlemen of this industry. Les Cole passed away on May 4, 2006.
Walter was born and raised in Shaunavon, Saskatchewan in 1940. In 1962, he went to work for McCullough Oilfield Services.
Like a lot of oil pioneers, Walter was self-educated in the oil and gas industry. When McCullough was bought out by National Lead in 1972, the company let it be known that, if you didn’t have an engineering degree, you probably didn’t have much of a future with the company. In response, Walter, along with some partners, started his own company, which was at first known as Perfco but then through various mergers and acquisitions became Computalog Gearhart.
Walter served for 19 years as President, CEO, and director for Computalog. As an operating division of Precision Drilling Corp, Computalog under Walter’s direction developed a range of ground-breaking technologies.
In 1993, after Computalog was bought out, Walter founded what became known as Enserco Energy Services Company Inc., formerly Bonus Resource Services Corp.
Enserco entered the well servicing businesses through the acquisition of 26 independent Canadian service rig operators. Enserco had over 200 service rigs and 30 drilling rigs in Canada and Australia when it was sold in 2002 to Nabors Industries Inc.
In 2007, Walter was the chairman of the board of Saxon Energy Services. He was also a director of Gran Tierra Energy, Inc., VGS Seismic Canada Inc., Suroco Energy, Inc., and Action Energy Inc. and continued to work at developing new international opportunities for Canadian companies.
Selby Porter was born on a farm in the R.M. of Star City back in 1937. In 1960, he graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Even before he graduated, he went to work in the petroleum industry, starting as a summer student with Tidewater Oil in Regina. Over time, Selby logged an impressive 48 years of experience in the industry.
Some of his notable career achievements include his role as Drilling and Field Development Engineer with Kalium Chemicals, at Belle-Plaine, Saskatchewan. During that time, he authored several patents on the underground solution mining process.
In late 1968, he moved to Calgary to take the position of Drilling Engineer for Hi-Tower Drilling, where he worked for18 years and eventually became Vice President and General Manager.
When Selby joined Ensign in 1990, the company had 11 drilling rigs and 16 service rigs. Today the Company operates in 11 countries worldwide, has 307 drill rigs, 125 service rigs, and several service groups.
Selby became a Director of Ensign in 1994 and took on the role of President in 1996. He retired from the presidency of Ensign in December of 2006.
In addition to his petroleum career, Selby is also a noteworthy supporter of the University of Saskatchewan. He sat on the Calgary oil and gas services sub-committee of the University of Saskatchewan’s Thinking the World of Our Future fundraising campaign. He is the sponsor of the Selby Porter Aboriginal Awards that support aboriginal students enrolling at the U of S. He was also a member of the Canadian Association of Drilling Contractors.
Darwin Sawyer was born in Macoun, Saskatchewan just outside Estevan in 1936.
At the age of 20, he started his career in the oil sector as the office manager for the National Tank Company. He later moved on to serve as the area manager for another tank company.
Darwin was truly one of the go-to guys in the Estevan oil patch. He has been a partner to many oilfield businesses over the years, including a company started by Laurence Woodard was also inducted into the Saskatchewan Oil Patch Hall of Fame.
Darwin’s specialty was installing and servicing production equipment. Along with partners, he founded the well-known service company Technical Sales and Maintenance Ltd.
Darwin had operations across Western Canada, including a service rig company that operated out of Coronation, Alberta for 25 years.
He had customers and contracts that took his business from British Columbia to Manitoba, but the heart and soul of his business and his personal life were always in Saskatchewan.
Darwin retired in 1999 and chose to reside in Medicine Hat.
Ken Vollman headed the National Energy Board in Calgary for almost a decade. Over his career, he reviewed and regulated projects worth tens of billions of dollars. Ken is one of the most respected and long-serving members of the regulatory side of the energy industry.
He stepped down from that position in 2007 after 33 years with Canada’s energy regulator.
Ken was born and raised in Macklin Saskatchewan. He joined the NEB as a young engineer in 1973 when the board was located in Ottawa. One of the changes Ken was part of at the NEB was its move to the heart of the Canadian energy sector in Calgary.
He worked his way through the ranks, eventually appointed by the federal government as a board member, vice-chairman, and finally as chairman.
Ken is highly regarded both by his peers in the regulatory world and by industry representatives.
Neil McCrank, the former chairman of the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board, called Ken “a prince of a character” and “one of the visionaries in the regulatory world.”
Jack Crawford, who led the Alliance Pipeline project says that Ken helped change the NEB so that it was more results-oriented.
Over the course of his career, Ken’s accomplishments have included working on a memorandum of agreement with the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. He also represented Canada in a joint review of the Aug. 14, 2003, electrical blackout.
Ken personally oversaw the NEB’s approval of the $5-billion Alliance Pipeline in the mid-1990s, which opened up Canada’s natural gas market, reset the landscape for natural gas liquids, and spurred competition in natural gas transmission.
Before joining the NEB, Ken worked at Mobil Oil Canada, Ltd. Over the course of his career, he has participated in more than 40 public hearings, chairing many of them.
Ken holds a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Saskatchewan and has published numerous documents on energy matters.
Laurence Woodard is one of Weyburn’s most experienced oilmen. He started in the oil patch in 1959 with Central Del Rio, which later became known as EnCana.
Laurence worked in the oil patch for over 40 years. In an interview in the Weyburn review, Aldon Oils founder Pierre Mondor said, “I don’t know of anyone Laurence hasn’t treated fairly, it’s just something he does. It’s the way he was brought up. He’s been a pretty straight shooter all his life.”
In 1976, Laurence moved his family to Williston, N.D. to manage the Addison Leyen operation.
In the spring of 1983, the family came back to Weyburn. Laurence and Darwin Sawyer, another Hall of Fame Inductee, started Woodard Oilwell Servicing. Laurence then sold his company, PenWood Oilwell Servicing Inc., to Calgary’s Petro Well Energy Services.
Laurence had many outside interests. He skipped and won the Elks Canadian Seniors Curling Bonspiel twice and did the same in the provincial senior Elks bonspiel three times. He was inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame for his work as assistant coach for the Weyburn Beavers baseball team, which won the 1996 national championship. Laurence has also been an active volunteer with the Weyburn Oil Show, including serving as show chairman on two occasions.
Through all his years in the oil industry, Laurence resisted the temptation to settle down anywhere other than Weyburn.
As he once said to the Weyburn Review, “No matter where I went, I was always happy to come back home to Weyburn. I guess there’s just something about being able to see the sunset. We prairie dogs just get used to seeing the skies and the sunset.”