“I think Canada needs its champions and it was exciting to be a Canadian independent working internationally, waving that Canadian flag and proving what we can do.” – Charlie Fischer
The Year Nexen CEO Charlie Fischer was awarded Alberta Venture’s Business Person of the Year, Alberta was in a full-fledged boom. The province experienced an $8.8-billion surplus that year, and Premier Ralph Klein shared the wealth in the form of $400 prosperity cheques to every man, woman and child in Alberta. The oil sands were far from the unprofitable and unfavoured industry former Business Person of the Year winner > Rick George spoke about in the early ’90s. In 2005, investors from the world over were circling Fort McMurray like vultures, awaiting the perfect opportunity to claim their stake. Under Fischer, Nexen was Canada’s fourth-largest independent oil and gas producer and it managed to triple its profits in the third quarter of 2005; the same year, the company saw a record-breaking net income for the third year in a row. “I think Canada needs its champions and it was exciting to be a Canadian independent working internationally, waving that Canadian flag and proving what we can do,” Fischer says. He’s speaking wistfully, though, as in 2013, Beijing-based CNOOC Limited purchased the Canadian independent. “It had a good run for many years, so it was a bit disappointing to see it change hands, but everything comes to an end, I guess.” Fischer retired from the company in 2008 and watched from the sidelines as the energy sector lurched and spluttered to what it is today, but he isn’t worried. “I think Alberta will be fine,” Fischer says. “I think the new world, when it balances out, is going to see oil prices in the $60-$80 range.” These lower commodity prices could actually be good for the energy sector, compared to how the industry operated at $100 oil. “As prices went above $100, it wasn’t good for innovation and cost control,” he says. “I think the exuberance created by $100 oil caused things to maybe get too easy and too aggressive.” Although Fischer has retired from Nexen, he is still involved in energy, sitting on three corporate boards, two of which are Enbridge related and one, Pure Technologies, which moderates water and wastewater facilities. While at Nexen, Fischer was immensely involved in community outreach, and he continues to volunteer his time to numerous boards, including the University of Calgary, Hull Child and Family Foundation, Alberta Children’s Hospital foundation and the Canada West Foundation. While the energy sector experiences considerable change, Fischer’s integrity and sense of community responsibility has remained – that, and his classic handlebar mustache.
The Year that Was 2005
Alberta’s Population 2.9 million
$14-billion merger of Nova Corp. and TransCanada Pipelines creates the fourth-largest gas pipeline company in North America
1,672 fires consumed 760,000 hectares. The average for the previous five years was 671 fires and 80,000 hectares burned