The Drill Sergeant

Mark Scholz’s en­ergy makes a dif­fer­ence. Hav­ing helped found the pre­cur­sor to the Wil­drose Party, he went on to found the CAODC “Oil Re­spect” cam­paign

Alberta Oil - - OBSERVER -

POL­I­TICS RUNS IN MARK SCHOLZ’S BLOOD. He was a found­ing mem­ber of the Al­berta Al­liance Party, which later be­came the mod­ern Wil­drose Party, when he was just 17 years old. To­day, as the pres­i­dent of the Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Oil­well Drilling Con­trac­tors (CAODC), he’s the pas­sion­ate voice of the Cana­dian drilling and ser­vice rig in­dus­try. That means he’s an ed­u­ca­tor to both gov­ern­ment and the pub­lic on the im­por­tance of oil and gas de­vel­op­ment to the coun­try and to those who de­pend on it. “Look­ing back, it cer­tainly has been an in­ter­est­ing ca­reer for a small-town boy, hav­ing not worked a day on the rigs,” Scholz says.

Grow­ing up in Brooks, Al­berta, a ma­jor oil and gas com­mu­nity, he says, “I knew the in­dus­try was im­por­tant to my lo­cal com­mu­nity be­cause many of my friends’ par­ents re­lied on it for a pay­check. In Al­berta, like other parts of Western Canada, you can’t help but feel the in­dus­try be­ing part of your life. Even if you don’t work di­rectly in the in­dus­try, you un­der­stand the im­por­tance of the sec­tor to the econ­omy and social fab­ric of the province.”

Scholz en­tered the po­lit­i­cal fray when, un­like to­day, en­ergy is­sues were not a part of the ev­ery­day po­lit­i­cal talk­ing points. “Fed­eral par­ties of all po­lit­i­cal stripes un­der­stood the ben­e­fits it brought to Canada,” he says. “In fact, it was the [fed­eral Lib­eral] Chré­tien gov­ern­ment, in 1997, that put a frame­work in place to at­tract the needed in­vest­ment and cre­ate the op­por­tu­ni­ties of the oil sands.”

In 2002, Scholz helped cre­ate the pre­cur­sor to the Wil­drose Party, now the Of­fi­cial Op­po­si­tion in the Al­berta Leg­is­la­ture. “I served on the party’s ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil for about five years where I worked closely with a friend and men­tor, Paul Hin­man, who later be­came the leader of the party,” he says. “I served as Paul’s chief of staff in Ed­mon­ton, although only for a brief pe­riod as the party pre­pared for the 2008 election.” Scholz also co-chaired Hin­man’s 2008 election cam­paign, some­thing which he says was in­stru­men­tal in de­vel­op­ing his un­der­stand­ing of the oil in­dus­try’s strug­gles un­der the then-new roy­alty pro­gram in­tro­duced by the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment. The Wil­drose al­ter­na­tive was quickly cast as an in­dus­try cham­pion. “We at­tracted the in­ter­est of a num­ber of oil and gas ser­vice com­pa­nies that were wor­ried about their busi­nesses,” Scholz says.

Dur­ing the cam­paign, Scholz met Duane Mather, for­mer CEO of Nabors Canada, who in­tro­duced him to the CAODC and en­cour­aged him to ap­ply for a man­age­rial role af­ter the election. “I am truly in­debted to Duane who helped open doors which led me to where I am,” he says. “And to­day, I con­tinue to work with Duane on the En­form [oil and gas safety as­so­ci­a­tion] board of di­rec­tors.” Af­ter al­most four years at the CAODC, Scholz be­came its CEO in 2012, at the age of just 28. “It’s what I love most about the oil and gas in­dus­try,” Scholz says. “If you’re will­ing to work hard and have am­bi­tion, you will suc­ceed. I was also for­tu­nate to have a num­ber of key peo­ple who be­lieved in me and my po­ten­tial.”

In Fe­bru­ary 2016, the CAODC launched its “Oil Re­spect” cam­paign, “be­cause of the ur­gency to fight back against a well­funded and well-or­ga­nized rad­i­cal and ex­treme en­vi­ron­men­tal move­ment,” Scholz says. “More­over, it was de­signed to get our po­lit­i­cal lead­ers to cham­pion the in­dus­try and mar­ket ac­cess for our prod­ucts.”

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