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Commitment to Community Investment is More Than Bricks and Mortar

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The oil sands industry goal of responsible development supports vibrant, diverse, inclusive, welcoming, resilient and safe communities.

To meet that goal, OSCA industry members embark on a number of efforts to build community capacity, invest in social resources and develop physical infrastructure.

Perhaps one of the most recognizable signs of industry support for community is the Suncor Community Leisure Centre at MacDonald Island Park. It houses amenities such as the Syncrude Aquatic Centre, the Total Fitness Centre, CNRL arenas, and the CNOOC-Nexen Activity Field Houses and the CNOOC Outdoor Stage.

But members’ commitment to community is more than bricks and mortar – it’s the financial donations to help students aspire to greater futures with scholarships, a science and technology lab in a local high school, funding health, seniors and children’s services, and contributing to such campaigns as the Fort McMurray United Way.

Then there are all the volunteer hours whether at local concerts or community events including food and toy drives at Christmas.

It’s our members caring about the communities where they work and also live, helping them grow and become sustainable.

It’s about local value creation.

And helping is the right thing to do.

That commitment includes such endeavours as Husky Energy participating in community events throughout Western Canada and in the Northwest Territories, including cultural and wellness programs such as a $500,000 donation to the new Kahkiyow Keykanow Elders Care Home in Fort Chipewyan.

Last year, Cenovus Energy partnered with the Northland School Division in Northern Alberta, which has schools in the Athabasca oil sands area, to aid in the delivery of education programming. It made a commitment of $900,000 over three years to the division where the student population is 95 per cent aboriginal. With graduation rates estimated at 20 per cent, students from across the division will benefit from support for literacy and career development programs.

Nexen Energy ULC, a wholly owned subsidiary of CNOOC Ltd., has a long history of giving back to the communities where it operates; a practice deeply rooted in its values. Nexen is not just an organization; but has worked to become part of the community.

Located off Highway 881, approximately 40 kilometres southeast of Fort McMurray, the Nexen Long Lake oil sands SAGD and upgrading facility is a neighbour to the hamlet of Anzac, as well as to the Fort McMurray #468 First Nation and several other First Nations communities. Nexen’s Long Lake operations invest in non-profit, community-driven initiatives that build capacity in the Wood Buffalo region. Its employees are active volunteers with local sports, educational and charitable organizations.

Safety is at the forefront at the Long Lake operations and this focus extends into its neighbouring communities. In 2006, Anzac expressed a need for all terrain vehicle (ATV) safety awareness programs for community members. Nexen responded by organizing an annual ATV safety awareness event, which has grown to incorporate bylaw information provided by the RCMP, bear safety education and snowmobile safety awareness provided by the McMurray Sno-Drifters Snowmobile Association. Nexen is contributing to the safety of the local community through raising awareness.

Nexen supports education, training programs and facilities that promote a Train Here, Live Here philosophy. In April, it was honoured to host local aboriginal students who were participating in the Building Environmental Aboriginal Human Resources program. This program is designed to prepare graduates for an entry-level position working in the environmental field and was offered locally in a partnership between CRE-Stantec and Nu Nenne-Stantec. Nexen provided camp accommodations, food services and a variety of training for each student including site orientation, respiratory mask fit testing, hazardous identification and atmosphere courses and Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System.

Nexen also supports key recreational and leisure opportunities within the Wood Buffalo region and in May, celebrated the grand opening of the Anzac Recreation Centre. This multi-purpose centre is sponsored by Nexen and operated by the Regional Recreation Corporation of Wood Buffalo.

“At Nexen, we are committed to promoting a healthy lifestyle for our employees, their families and residents of the Wood Buffalo region,” says Cindy Amerongen, manager of community and consultation. “From promoting safety, investing in education and making contributions that help build strong communities – Nexen strives to make a positive difference.”

A highly visible result of Statoil Canada’s commitment to local value creation is the Local Opportunity Centre (LOC) in Conklin, at the southern end of Wood Buffalo. It’s an initiative that earned Statoil the 2011 Responsible Canadian Energy Award for Social Performance presented by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

Established in 2009, the centre is described as a unique collaboration between local community, service providers, industry and various levels of government. This employment and business resource centre helps Statoil and ConocoPhillips - and other industry colleagues - develop a skilled and safe workforce for local businesses. It provides local vendors with access to training and business development tools. It also ensures that contractors have access to information about current and future business opportunities.

“At Statoil, our goal is to create meaningful economic and social benefits in the communities we do business, and the LOC allows us to deliver on that ambition as well as take it to the next level,” says Mike Reid, corporate social responsibility manager for Statoil Canada. “Our employees working at the LOC collaborate with procurement and various business units to engage as many local suppliers as possible, provided they are competitive and meet our stringent health, safety and environment requirements.

“Each business unit contributes to Statoil’s corporate social responsibility commitments to give local businesses opportunity to work for us during the various phases of our operations, in a manner that is competitive, efficient and safe.”

Statoil’s LOC employees maintain close relationships with local community members, businesses and community leaders by providing ongoing support, project information and training programs to further develop their capacity. The LOC staff also work with local suppliers to identify and rectify gaps in their HSE management systems to ensure they are not impediments.

“The success and magnitude of services offered by the LOC is a direct result of a multi-level partnership between local community, service providers, industry and various levels of government,” added Reid. “The strategic alignment and participation of all parties to successfully develop local capacity has been essential to building a sustainable business resource centre for local communities.”

Since it first opened its doors, more than 1,200 people have walked through them.

Devon Energy is another OSCA member that strives to become part of the community. For instance, this year it partnered with Inside Education to learn about careers available in Alberta’s Boreal Region.

In April, a group of students involved with the Inside Education’s Alberta Boreal Careers Project visited Devon’s Jackfish 1 camp, toured Devon’s facilities in the Conklin area and learned about the company’s operations and core values.

“ABC introduces young people that live in the Boreal region of Alberta to the work going on in their area, specifically related to SAGD development,” said Steve McIsaac, Inside Education director.

“It is an opportunity for students to experience what life is like in the field and on site, to meet with the people that are working in the industry, and to find out things they didn’t know before. It gives them a chance to place themselves in some of the roles Devon hires for.”

The visit mimicked real life employment conditions at an oil sands operation as the students stayed on site in the lodges, ate their meals just as employees do at camp, and donned personal protective equipment (PPE) when on site.

Dale Emery, senior foreman, production at Jackfish 1, led the on-site tour. He showed them the components of the steam plant and how a SAGD operation works.

“Devon has a stake in ensuring young people, especially those from local and surrounding communities to our operations, have a chance to learn about the career options available in this industry and consider us for future employment,” said Emery.

abc tours picture 2 (3) - devon.jpg: A group of students involved with the Inside Education’s Alberta Boreal Careers Project visit Devon Energy’s facilities in the Conklin

Local Opps centre photo.jpg: Statoil Canada’s commitment to local value creation is the Local Opportunity Centre (LOC) in Conklin.

Nexen ATV Safety Day _2 (1).JPG & Nexen ATV Safety Day _2 (2).JPG: Nexen Energy ULC’s annual ATV safety awareness event.