In the summer of 2013, Calgary, the home base of Apache Corporation’s Canadian subsidiary, experienced devastating flooding that forced nearly 100,000 people from their homes and caused billions of dollars in damage. As the community evaluated the destruction and began repairs, the oil and gas company’s public and government affairs department promptly set about determining the best way to help with the relief efforts.
“We were able to act quickly,” says David Holub, Apache Canada’s assistant general counsel and the head of its public and government affairs department. “We put in place a plan for how to respond and help. Not only did we carefully search out organizations that were in need of monetary donations; we also organized an opportunity for our employees to go out into one of the hardest-hit communities to roll up their sleeves and help out.”
The effort was well received, not only by the impacted communities but by Apache’s employees, who were able to see how exactly their company could be an asset in the region. That social consciousness, combined with the results-driven mindset of the corporation as a whole, has grown Apache’s outreach programs significantly in the past few years.
By the Numbers
Apache’s net producing wells
Production average in boe/day
Proved reserves in Mboe
Percentage of working interest in Kitimat LNG
Holub joined Apache in 2001, after working as an in-house counsel at several oil and gas companies, including Amoco, Shell Canada, and, later, Talisman Energy; he was also teaching conflict resolution at Mount Royal University. While working with a few people from Apache on a legal file, they asked him if he would consider coming to work for them.
“I liked their sense of urgency,” Holub says. “They got things done and were growth-oriented. But really, the thing that attracted me was the idea of starting a legal department. I would be their first lawyer on the ground in Canada.”
From a pure business standpoint, Apache has made substantial strides in the past decade. Today, liquefied natural gas (LNG) has become one of its most promising opportunities. LNG is natural gas that is cooled to a liquid, allowing it to be easily transported overseas and reheated back into its gaseous state. Apache was one of the first companies to be involved in Canada’s developing LNG industry, and it is now focused on a new LNG facility in Kitimat, British Columbia.
Further evidence of Apache’s ongoing commitment to public engagement is the establishment of a separate public and government affairs department for the Kitimat project. The group, overseen by Natalie Poole-Moffatt, leads communications efforts with communities and government officials to support Apache’s involvement with LNG.
In Canada, Apache’s community-investment approach is threefold: corporate outreach (that is, sponsoring community sports events, festivals, and other cultural institutions); a matching gift program for employees (meaning that employee gifts to various causes will be matched by the company); and annual partnerships with civic institutions such as universities or health centres. Over roughly the past 15 years, Holub estimates, Apache has raised nearly $1 million for the Calgary Urban Project Society alone. (It’s a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping individuals and families overcome poverty.)
These accomplishments illustrate just how much Apache is focused on engaging the communities in which it operates.
“When I first started here 12 years ago, there wasn’t that sort of established sense of public or government affairs,” Holub says. “We didn’t have a dedicated group. That’s only really come together within the last three years. I think the department has really grown and developed, and people within the company have really appreciated that. It helps to define your company and builds employees’ pride [when they’re] working for an organization that does good things for the community.”