A natural changemaker

Pamela Nadin-McIntyre with a drilling team during a visit to Canadian Natural Resources Limited’sPamela Nadin-McIntyre meets with a drilling team during a visit to Canadian Natural Resources Limited’s offshore operations on West Africa’s Ivory Coast.

Pamela Nadin-Mcintyre was introduced to the importance of innovation and its role in business at a young age.

As a daughter of a Windsor tool and die business owner, she remembers watching her dad brainstorm and execute countless ideas to drive business and stay competitive.

Decades later and three provinces away, she is the innovation lead — in addition to safety, technical safety, and risk management — for Canada’s largest independent crude oil and natural gas producer, Canadian Natural Resources Limited (Canadian Natural).

“My dad’s the one who really helped push me in this direction,” says Nadin- McIntyre BASc ’86.

In addition to ensuring the right systems are in place to maintain the safety of people across Canadian Natural’s operations, she leads dedicated teams that are focused on improving the company’s environmental performance through technology and innovation. And for someone who is passionate about the environment, it’s more than just a job.

“We see there is still a need for fossil fuels for quite some time, which is why it’s so important to continuously improve and ensure the smallest environmental footprint,” she says. “Canada has world leading standards for responsible development of our resources, including safety, asset integrity and environmental protection.”

Canada derives 77 per cent of its energy from fossil fuels and is pushing to reduce emissions by 20 per cent from current levels by 2020 and 60 to 70 per cent by 2050, according to 2019 federal government statistics.

Nadin-McIntyre says her company has reduced greenhouse gas emissions intensity at its Horizon oil sands operations by 37 per cent from 2012 to 2018 in addition to reducing methane vent volumes by 78 per cent at its primary heavy oil sites by capturing waste carbon dioxide before it enters the atmosphere.

“At today’s production levels, the total reduction from these two areas from 2012 to 2018 is equivalent to taking over one and a half million cars off the road,” she adds.

She is particularly proud of Canadian Natural’s field pilot project that is underway on an alternative bitumen extraction method. Unlike previous methods, the In-Pit Extraction Process (IPEP) involves a relocatable, modular extraction plant that processes ore and separates bitumen in the mine pit rather than at facilities further away on the site, eliminating the need for material transportation by truck, pipeline length, tailings ponds and the energy needed to pump material. With enhancements, the pilot project is proceeding in 2020 at their oil sands mining operation 70 km north of Fort McMurray, Alberta. 

Nadin-McIntyre originally thought she would be a pharmacist. Instead, she left the University of Toronto in her first year to pursue materials engineering at the University of Windsor.

“I loved the one-on-one interactions with my professors. I felt very much a part of a community and it really helped me with grounding and learning.”

From there she landed a job at a foundry in Guelph and shortly after, at ArcelorMittal Dofasco, Canada’s leading steel producer.

“Students today really need to understand it’s not about identifying what you want to be because you probably won’t be in that role for your whole career. Instead, focus on what skills you’re developing. I’ve always focused on where I see gaps in my skills and worked to develop in ways to bridge those gaps.”

This mindset helped her start a career in Alberta at an engineering consulting firm before eventually launching her own, giving her exposure to the business and marketing world. From there she moved to a mid-sized oil company then graduated to a midstream company before she was approached by Canadian Natural in 2003.

As the company’s senior vice president of safety, risk management and innovation, she oversees occupational safety, technical safety, asset integrity — which includes the company’s entire inventory of pipelines and pressure equipment — and the most recent additions to her department, technology, innovation, environment, regulatory and stakeholder relations.

“It’s really interesting and exciting,” she says about acquiring different portfolios over the course of her 16-year career with the company. “If you’re up for a challenge, Canadian Natural will challenge you.”

Although Nadin-McIntyre lives in Calgary, she maintains close ties with the University of Windsor. In 2013, she established two scholarships in honour of her parents — Mary Elizabeth Nadin ’74 BEd, ’80 MEd, and Eric Nadin, who owned Nadin Molds Inc. and often assisted

University of Windsor engineering students with capstone projects free of charge with consulting and manufacturing support. The Eric and Mary Elizabeth Nadin Memorial Bursaries are distributed annually to two undergraduate students in engineering and education based on academic standing and financial need.

Nadin-McIntyre and her husband Kory McIntyre are also legacy donors to the University of Windsor with a planned gift that will support the education of future students.

This article is featured in the 2019 issue of Windsor Engineering (WE).