Recently named Executive Vice President Heavy Oil and President of Shell Canada Limited, Lorraine Mitchelmore is taking stereotypes and kicking them to the curb, one misconception after another. She has single-handedly taken imbedded beliefs about gender and geographical predispositions and replaced them with a strong female representation that is passionate about the oil industry and its potential in the future of Canada.
Born and raised in Green Island Cove, Newfoundland, a small town with a population of 100, Mitchelmore has implanted her footprint across the globe, making an international name within the oil industry.
With 25 years of experience under her belt, Mitchelmore has worked in Australia, England, North Sea, Gulf of Mexico, Africa and the Middle East. That plethora of countries is nothing to frown upon and has given her a more profound understanding of the industry’s need to think global and act local.
Earlier this year, Canada’s Country Chair revisited her home province of Newfoundland to speak to the NOIA energy contingency. Happy to be home, Lorraine says, “you can take the girl from the rock but you can never take the rock from the girl.”
Her speech was an opportunity for leading oil industries to discover how to come together and overcome national challenges to peak Canada’s opportunity.
“If we focus on what is best for Canada, we will live up to our potential. If we focus on our narrow provincial or regional interests we will end up like one of those hockey teams that are never as good on ice as they are on paper. The ones made up of individual all-star players who each want to score all the time but they don’t play well together as a team and as a result don’t win nearly as often as they should,” said Mitchelmore.
Simply put, it has to be a community effort with a global perspective. Remaining aware of our province’s assets and how it can benefit the country is essential, but the oil industry needs Canada to look in all directions and consider our international contribution.
“It’s about recognizing we are all part of one interconnected world but in order to improve our world we have to focus on taking action in our little corner of it,” she said. Recognizing challenges can create opportunity, an ideological notion achievable through untapped resources and actions Mitchelmore distinctively points out.
Although Canada has a vast amount of resources, including energy, the country has to consider the future of oil and gas and how to reduce the environmental impact production can create. Technologies and information concerning environmentally safe production are constantly improving and have to be communicated worldwide to ensure that the best procedures are being considered.
“I feel very good about the work Shell is doing with the governments of Alberta and Canada, and our joint venture partners Chevron and Marathon, on building the first carbon capture and storage project in the oil sands. The challenges and opportunities are too big to do it alone,” explained Mitchelmore.
Lorraine Mitchelmore firmly believes Canada has the ability to further reduce CO2 emissions and the amount of water used to produce oil and gas by gaining expertise from other countries, as well as reciprocating our knowledge globally. “We need to embrace innovation: both our own and what we can learn from others around the world. In Canada, we have a proud history of innovation, but a less successful track record at commercializing our ingenuity through creating global companies. We have many homegrown advantages in Canada but we cannot rest on our laurels,” Mitchelmore continued. “In addition to better commercializing our intellectual capital, we need to be willing to also learn from others when it comes to innovation and productivity.”
Shell Canada has been exercising global and local innovation to improve the process in offshore Nova Scotia, by using 3D seismic testing to better see the sub-surface. Also, considering the environment, Shell used the X-Bow class seismic vessel, which provides less fuel and puts less noise into the water. “None of this would be possible without our company’s global expertise and experience. In our work here in Nova Scotia we are drawing upon over 30 years of deep-water experience operating around the world and on the expertise of over 300 people working globally in what we call our Deepwater Centre of excellence. This global expertise is now being brought to Canada,” said the President.
Mitchelmore addressed the idea of reaching out to Aboriginal Societies in order to consider how the industry relates to them. She believes honouring the heritage of Aboriginals is fundamental to Canada’s future. Shell has worked with Aboriginal-owned businesses in their oil sands operations and have spent over $1.5 billion with these businesses in the last decade.
“Aboriginals make up the youngest and fastest-growing segment of the population in Canada. The increasing rate of pursuing higher education and creating new businesses is the highest among this demographic group in Canada. That human capital is one of Canada’s greatest sources of potential wealth,” explained Mitchelmore.
In order for our country and the oil industry to prosper, Mitchelmore suggests we be confident, be deliberate and be bold. “We must collaborate at home to win around the world,” she concluded.
Mitchelmore has set a name for herself as a leader in the oil and gas industry, taking opportunity to increase the country’s wealth and prosperity while representing women and Newfoundland with an extreme amount of pride.
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