Canadian Interview: David Collyer

David Collyer, new president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), discussed the sector's need to better communicate, its PR strategy around oil sands, and the communication challenges unique to the US market.

As the new president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), David Collyer has his work cut out for him. Collyer, who left as president of Shell Canada to take the top post at the CAPP, discussed the sector's need to better communicate, its PR strategy around oil sands, and the communication challenges unique to the US market.

How would you grade the industry's effort in telling its story to date?
Industry recognizes the need to improve its communications with stakeholders, in Canada, in the US, and, increasingly, internationally. In part, it's about communications, and, in part, it's about continuing to improve our environmental and socio-economic performance. We need to get on our “front foot” with respect to communications and we must support that communication with proof points that tangibly demonstrate our commitment to raising the bar with respect to environmental performance.

In what ways would you communicate environmental performance?
CAPP has initiated a communications program related to oil sands. While the focus is on oil sands, the initiative will have broader benefits for the sector overall. The first phase of the program was to initiate a dialogue with Canadians and other interested parties regarding their perspectives on oil sands business. This engagement process began in June and over the next couple of months we will be consolidating and providing feedback on what we have heard. We will then be discussing with stakeholders what we are doing and planning to do to address their concerns. We expect this to be a long-term dialogue that will utilize a number of different engagement tools.

What challenges do you face in communicating to the US around oil sands?

There is generally less awareness of the role of oil sands in providing secure and reliable supply in the US than would be the case in Canada. For that reason, it is perhaps more important to provide a broader context for the discussion. At the same time, the level of interest in environmental performance is very similar to that which we see in Canada, so, in a number of respects, the communications challenges are very similar. It is challenging for the industry to find the right avenues to convey its messages at both the federal and state level in the U.S., but it is extremely important and we are committed to continuing to do so.

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