Just a few kilometres (KM) down the road is the site of the Leduc No.1 oil discovery from 1947, and pumpjacks and drilling rigs are common in the area. But Jeff thought one day he’d take over the family farm his great grandfather bought when he moved to Canada from Poland in 1905 for $10. It wasn’t until his father encouraged him to pursue a different path that he shifted his career plans to the oil and gas industry.
Since completing his chemical engineering (computer process control) degree at the University of Alberta, and joining Petro-Canada in 2006, Jeff’s career at Suncor has gone from land to sea and back again while working in drilling and completions. To date, he’s worked at various legacy-Petro-Canada and Suncor sites, including Fort McMurray and Medicine Hat, Alta., and projects off the coasts of Norway and Newfoundland and Labrador. Growing up did he ever think he’d have the experience he’s had? “Not a chance,” says Jeff. “My parents and I joke about how I went from a little farm kid in Alberta to working 350 KM offshore in the Atlantic Ocean.”
Sit down with Jeff and you’ll hear stories ranging from how he was responsible for the safety of 140 crew members onboard the Transocean Barents rig during the 100-year storm in 2018 off the Newfoundland and Labrador coast, to attending a safety meeting conducted entirely in Norwegian. Each role has presented different challenges, but he’s embraced every step along the way. “Every opportunity has something you can learn and take away from it. I’ve really embraced that mindset.”
In 2019, when Suncor invested in Enerkem, a biofuels facility outside of Edmonton, Alta., Jeff was approached with a new opportunity, a secondment position with Enerkem. The facility takes household waste and processes it into fuel grade methanol or ethanol. Jeff and other Suncor secondees are supporting the project from an operational, maintenance, and technical perspective, helping implement operational discipline practices.
“Whether a traditional oil and gas asset, or something in the renewable space, at the end of the day, it's still an asset and we still strive for the same things: reliability, capital discipline, and keeping people and assets safe,” says Jeff.
And his efforts aren’t going unnoticed. A nod to his accomplishments, Jeff was recently named as part of the Daily Oil Bulletin’s Rising Stars Class of 2021 – nominated by his leaders. The program highlights the work of young, emerging leaders in the energy industry. When asked what advice he’d give someone entering the energy industry, he believes “it’s important to treat everything that comes your way as an opportunity; don’t see challenges as roadblocks; and be willing to change and adapt.
So, what’s next for the former farm kid turned oil and gas engineer? Jeff is looking forward to continuing his Enerkem secondment and executing the project plans while completing his executive MBA.
“From there, who knows? If you would have asked 2007 Jeff if he’d be offshore one day, he would have said no. But now, I think the sky's the limit and I'm open to taking on whatever challenge comes my way.”