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Alberta - November 18, 2018

Science, Creativity, and Innovation: Our Canadian Story—it’s the theme of this year’s Canada History Week, running from November 19 to 25. And there’s no question that from the very start, Canada’s energy sector and the way we live today has evolved from numerous advances (and a few major mishaps) in science, creativity, and innovation.

In fact, Alberta’s energy contributions to Canada’s story over the last century fit nicely with this theme. According to the Government of Canada, it’s meant to highlight “historic achievements by Canadians in the fields of medicine, science, technology, engineering, and math.”

With so many significant achievements in oil and gas throughout Alberta’s past that involve all of these disciplines, we believe the best way to celebrate is to share some of those moments with our readers.

1902: Alberta’s First Oil Well is Discovered

Alberta First Oil Well

Rocky Mountain vistas provided a dramatic setting for Alberta’s first oil well at Cameron Creek, 220 kilometres south of Calgary. Strong early production aroused dreams of a cavern brimming with a subterranean lake of black gold. Fortune hunters rushed to erect a boomtown called Oil City.

1912: Alberta’s First Pipeline is Built

First Pipeline is built

Labour crews used muscle power for 86 days to build by hand the 270 kilometres of Alberta’s first natural gas delivery service, the Bow Island Pipeline, from a southeastern discovery known as Old Glory to Calgary and Lethbridge.

1914: Alberta’s Oil Industry Captures Promoters’ Attention

Oil Industry captures promoters attention

Early Alberta drilling successes inspired visions of wealth, frenzies of company formation, and blizzards of share sales, as recalled by this portrait of a lively downtown Calgary curb market fuelled by the first Turner Valley discovery well.

1938: Alberta’s First Energy Regulator is Born

First energy regulator is born

The regulator first opened its doors on July 1, 1938, as the Petroleum and Natural Gas Conservation Board, with a slim payroll of 12 employees, including the chairman and three stenographers.

1947: Alberta’s First Oil Triumph is Celebrated

Alberta's first oil triumph is celebrated

Business, government, and community leaders turned out in force to witness the start of production by the Leduc No. 1 well 40 kilometres southwest of downtown Edmonton. The successful conclusion to an epic of subterranean exploration ushered in the modern Alberta era of jumbo discoveries, expanding markets, plant construction, pipeline development, economic growth, and ever-more thorough conservation and safety and environmental regulation.

1948: Alberta’s Biggest Oil Blowout Erupts

Alberta's biggest oil blowout erupts

Only 1.6 kilometres east of the 1947 Leduc discovery, a blowout at the Atlantic No. 3 follow-up well in 1948 called global attention to the large scale of Alberta’s newfound wealth. The spectacle travelled around the world on front pages and movie theatre newsreels.

1962: George Govier Becomes Chairman of the Regulator

George Govier becomes chairman of the regulator

George Govier joined the regulator in 1948 and chaired it from 1962 to 1978. A plaque at the entrance to Govier Hall, the custom-built hearing room at the Alberta Energy Regulator’s downtown Calgary headquarters, reminds all who pass of his contributions to the orderly development of oil and gas in Alberta.

1982: Alberta’s Worst Sour Gas Blowout Makes Way for Stricter Regulations

Albertas worse sour gas blowout makes way for stricter regulations

The Lodgepole blowout southwest of Edmonton ignited the need for improved drilling and public safety in the minds of Alberta’s regulatory, government, and business leaders. The regulator’s inquiry probed technology gaps and human error in the lethal drilling mishap.

Find more stories about the history of energy regulation in Alberta in Steward: 75 Years of Alberta Energy Regulation, written by Gordon Jaremko.

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Story Comments

Perry Huber

The O&G industry has come a long way thanks to the tiredness efforts of the AER and previously named regulators, operators who recognize the importance of the regulations and service providers who provide innovative advancements in measuring what goes on hundreds and thousands of meters below surface. I appreciate and look forward to your weekly emails


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