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Hal Kvisle

 

There are a handful of high-profile Canadian oil and gas executives who have shaped not only the future of the industry but also the public's perception of it. But there are many, many more who have done as much or more with little of the attention or glamour lauded on the superstars. Hal Kvisle is one of those.


Born in Innisfail, Alta., in 1952, Hal attended both the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary, and joined Dome Petroleum Limited in 1975 as a petroleum engineer. After tackling several engineering and management roles, he played a key role in crafting the sale of the troubled Canadian company to Amoco Corporation in 1987, before joining Fletcher Challenge Energy Canada as president in 1988.


At Fletcher Challenge, Hal led the formation and growth of the company's successful Canadian upstream business and its international ventures in Venezuela, Argentina and Mexico through the 1990s.

 

In 1999, he joined TransCanada in the wake of the pipeline giant's merger with NOVA Corp. and was named president and chief executive officer in 2001, launching a transformative career at TransCanada that would make the lumbering gas pipeline giant a North American energy infrastructure powerhouse, with investments ranging from pipelines to coal and gas-fired power plants, wind farms and natural gas storage facilities.


"His attention to detail, persistence and determination drove TransCanada to grow and diversify its assets beyond its historic roots, a legacy he has left behind here at TransCanada," says Russ Girling, who took over as president and chief executive officer on Hal's retirement in 2010. "He left the company well-positioned for continued success." Hal's retirement was relatively brief, however. In September, he was named president and chief executive officer of Talisman Energy.


A key component of TransCanada's transformation was Hal's plan to convert one of the company's smallest gas lines between Edmonton and the Canada-U.S. border in Manitoba to oil service, launching what has become one of North America's largest crude oil pipeline systems. The Keystone Pipeline, which Hal opened on the day he retired in the summer of 2010, now moves up to 590,000 barrels a day of western Canadian crude oil from Hardisty in Alberta to refineries in Wood River and Patoka, Ill., and Cushing, Okla., and is part of the inspiration behind TransCanada's Keystone XL project, which will move Alberta crude directly to key refinery markets on the U.S. Gulf Coast.


Before and since his retirement, Hal—who was referred to by the Globe and Mail in 2007 as "one of the unsung superstars" of Canadian business— has earned recognition on several fronts for his management successes, beginning in 2008 when he was named Canada's Outstanding CEO of the Year by The Caldwell Partners. He followed that up with the 2009 Canadian Business Leader Award for his role in leading TransCanada's transformation and for being a "pioneer of progress" in the Canadian business community. The same year, Hal was named to Alberta Venture's list of the top 50 most influential people in the province, and received only the second honourary degree ever bestowed by Mount Royal University.


Throughout his career, Hal reached out to the wider business community as a leader and a builder. He served several terms as a governor with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, chaired the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, and has been a director for a number of companies, including Talisman Energy and the Bank of Montreal. In 2008, he was appointed by Canada's federal finance minister, Jim Flaherty, to serve on the Export Panel on Securities Regulation, and has been a board member of the Nature Conservancy of Canada since 2007.


In 2010, the University of Calgary's Haskayne School of Business and the Calgary Chamber of Commerce recognized Hal with their 2010 Distinguished Business Leader Award for being a role model for future generations of business leaders, and for his unwavering commitment to the community. Hal's commitment to his community is largely focused on education initiatives, and according to Rick Coutts, vice president of information services at TransCanada, he "jumped at the chance" to chair the board of governors at Mount Royal College (MRC). It was during his eight-year tenure as chair there that the table was set for MRC's evolution to a degreegranting university.


"Hal showed outstanding foresight to understand that southern Alberta needed a second degree-granting institution and set in motion the steps necessary to achieve that goal," Coutts says.

 

   
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