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Delivering Canadian Energy


Pembina Pipeline Corporation CEO Scott Burrows. photo by EWAN PHOTO VIDEO

In its 70th year of operation, Pembina Pipeline Corporation has existed almost as long as the oil and gas industry it serves. Incorporated in 1954 as an oil transporting pipeline system within the Pembina field (at Drayton Valley), the company remains one of the most important pipeline companies in the Canadian energy sector today, operating approximately 18,000 kilometres of conventional, transmission, oil sands and heavy oil pipelines across North America.

Of course, Pembina in 2023 looks very different from its original version. In addition to a vast pipeline business, the company owns gas gathering and processing facilities, and an oil and natural gas liquids infrastructure and logistics business. Today, Pembina can provide a full slate of midstream and marketing services to its customers.

“Over time we extended the value chain,” explains CEO Scott Burrows. “Now we can offer our customers gas processing, pipeline, transportation, fractionation and marketing. We think of it as a one-stop shop. We can solve all our customers’ infrastructure needs.”

Burrows has been at Pembina since 2002. He was appointed CEO last February after serving as CFO for seven years.

“Our business over the last year has been very strong,” he says. “We had a couple big wins in 2022. We did a pretty unique transaction with KKR where we merged three different gas processing businesses into one large joint venture. Operationally, we had our best year ever – record EBITDA and volumes.”

Pembina’s business is comprised of three distinct divisions: pipelines (roughly 60 per cent), facilities (roughly 30 per cent) and marketing (roughly 10 per cent).

“Our pipelines division starts with our conventional pipeline system, which is the backbone of Pembina and continues to be a driver of growth for us,” Burrows explains. The system is a large gathering network which gathers crude oil condensate, ethane plus and propane plus from northeast B.C., through the deep base and into Edmonton. “Our first pipeline originated in Drayton Valley and is still in service today at the highest volumes it’s been in a decade.”

The pipelines business also includes oil sand pipelines and Pembina’s tankage system, as well as the transmission business unit. “These are our long haul cross-border pipelines,” Burrows says. “Our Cochin and Alliance pipelines, which transport condensate and liquids rich gas.”

Pembina’s facilities division was born in 2009 with the purchase of the company’s first gas plant. “It wasn’t necessarily about getting into gas processing,” Burrows notes, “it was about getting into liquids capture. Getting the liquids out of the streams and into our pipelines and fractionation facilities.”

The gas processing business has grown significantly, from 300 million to 5.4 billion cubic feet per day. “A very, very significant footprint in gas processing, as well as straddle plants that sit on some of the main lines to extract liquids from those pipelines,” Burrows points out. The facilities division includes approximately 260,000 barrels per day in fractionation and two export terminals on the West coast, at Prince Rupert and the Vancouver Wharfs.

Pembina’s marketing division sits on the back end of its other businesses, marketing NGLs and crude from the company’s facilities.

In addition to its main operations, Pembina is also part of several strategic partnerships. “We love our core business and will continue to invest in it,” Burrows reiterates. “We also believe that in order to thrive there’s opportunity to invest in the energy transition and improve the basins in which we operate. We’re always looking at opportunities to decarbonize our assets and make them more competitive in the future.”

One such opportunity is the Alberta Carbon Grid project, in which Pembina has partnered with TC Energy. The project, still in proposal stage, aims to capture up to 20 million tons of CO2.

“We also look to meet global demand,” Burrows continues. “World energy demand is growing or declining slower in world markets. There are many places where people still live in poverty. They need energy to emerge from that. And we think we can help solve that problem. So we’re pretty focused on getting our products out of Canada and into world markets.”

B.C. LNG in particular, he points out, is some of the lowest emissions gas in the world and has the potential to replace coal in Asia.

To this end, Pembina has formed a partnership with the Haisla Nation to develop the proposed Cedar LNG Project, a three million ton per annum floating LNG facility strategically positioned to leverage Canada’s abundant natural gas supply and B.C.’s growing LNG infrastructure.

In March, Cedar LNG received its Environmental Assessment Certificate from the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office and a positive Decision Statement from the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

“We still have a lot of work to do on that before we get to a final investment decision,” Burrows notes. “We signed an MOU for half of the capacity with ARC Resources. And we’re still working on the engineering, project finance and commercial streams of the project. But I’m feeling good about it, there’s a lot of momentum behind it. Not only is it a great project for Pembina, but it’s a game changer for the Haisla Nation. The relationship we’ve developed with Chief Councillor Crystal Smith, the other Councillors and the community has been pivotal to our collective success.”

Pembina is also part of Chinook Pathways, a partnership with the Western Indigenous Pipeline Group (WIPG), to explore the potential acquisition of Trans Mountain pipeline, upon completion of construction of the Trans Mountain Expansion. “We continue to work with WIPG, who are working closely with many of the communities along the pipeline routeway,” Burrows explains. “This is an important relationship, and we are very optimistic about the opportunity for Chinook Pathways.”

“We’re very bullish on Canadian energy,” he continues. “We think there’s still a significant amount of growth to come from the Montney resource. And we’re extremely well positioned to capture that.”

Born and raised in Penticton, B.C., Burrows – who at 43 is the youngest CEO in Pembina’s history – majored in finance at UBC before landing his first job at GE Capital in Vancouver. An interest in investment banking led him to apply for a job with Scotia Capital in Calgary in December 2002. “I got the job and moved out here not knowing a single person in this city,” he reminisces. “It was quite the change from Vancouver.”

At Scotia, Burrows developed a close working relationship with folks at Pembina. “Ultimately, Pembina wanted to grow, and I had the skills – finance, investor relations – that matched their needs,” he says. “I was also at a time in my life where I wanted more work-life balance, to spend more time with my wife and newborn son. It was a great match.”

Burrows’ first role was manager of Corporate Development. From there, he quickly rose Pembina’s ranks. “When I joined in 2010 we were a roughly $4 billion dollar company,” he reflects. “We are a $40 billion company today. It’s been a good balance of organic growth, extending off the business we have today, and some pivotal mergers and acquisitions.”

One of his first tasks as CEO was to lead Pembina out of COVID. “I spent a large part of the first year focusing on customers and employees,” he says. “I really wanted our employees to feel like they were part of something. After two years of the pandemic, it felt like we were disconnected and so bringing back that employee experience was a big focus. And ultimately we’re in the customer service business. So making sure I got in front of customers, listened to them and understood their priorities was critically important to me.”

One major piece of work was to revive Pembina’s purpose: “We deliver extraordinary energy solutions so the world can thrive,” Burrows recounts. “It was really important for us to be proud of the industry we work in, and also to recognize that the world cannot thrive without hydrocarbons and the business we do.”

The company also took the opportunity to enumerate its five core values of safe, trustworthy, respectful, collaborative and entrepreneurial. “We also re-evaluated our strategy,” he says. “It was a pretty busy and intense first year, and I’m very proud looking back at all we’ve accomplished.”

With 2,600 employees – 1,600 of which work in the field – safety is the number one priority at Pembina. “It is the first thing we talk about at any meeting, town hall or with our staff,” Burrows says. “It is fundamental to everything that we do. Nothing works if safety’s not working.”

Pembina’s culture also emphasizes relationships and community giving. “Our pipelines go through many, many communities,” he notes. “We engage with Indigenous and local communities to identify opportunities to work together, including contracting and employment, and we also listen to concerns and work hard to address them.”

The company’s flagship giving program is a partnership with the United Way; in April Pembina was awarded the President’s Award from the charitable organization, in recognition of having one of the most dedicated employee campaigns in the city. “It’s our biggest campaign of the year,” Burrows says proudly. “We have a community investment team, and they work closely with our area leaders to make decisions on community giving, because they are closest to their communities and know what the needs are.”

A dedicated father and husband, Burrows, despite his busy work schedule, prioritizes family and community. He has served on the board of Kids Up Front and the Rundle College Society, and has worked in several roles at the United Way.

From a business perspective, Burrows is all about people. “There is nothing that gets done in our company without teamwork,” he reflects. “And it’s more than just the people at our company. We rely on our customers, investors and communities. No matter what part of the business, we make sure to get to know the people and build relationships.”

“I’m pretty excited about the future,” Burrows reveals. “I’m exceptionally proud of our industry. It’s an extremely innovative group that continues to find unique ways to do things better.”