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David Collyer


Born: Montreal, Quebec


David Collyer has enjoyed a near-40-year career in the Canadian oil and gas industry, but his enduring legacy will be based almost entirely on his term as president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) between 2008 and 2014—a time frame considered by many to be one of the most turbulent experienced by producers since the National Energy Program of the early 1980s.

A native of Montreal, David was born in 1955 and received a B.Sc. in mineral engineering (specializing in petroleum) from the University of Alberta in 1977 and an MBA from the same institution in 1978.

He began his career with Shell Canada in 1978, holding a broad range of technical, business, marketing and leadership roles over 30 years, culminating in his appointment as Shell Canada’s president and country chair in 2007. David’s time at Shell included his participation in a two-year executive exchange assignment with the federal government in Ottawa between 1989 and 1991, during which he was director, supply branch, at the National Energy Board.

But it was as president of CAPP that David most impacted the Canadian oil and gas industry. His term as president began just as the world was emerging from the 2008 depression and continued through two royalty restructurings, three Alberta premiers (four, if you include Dave Hancock’s brief stint as interim premier in 2014 and the rapid growth of new completion technologies that pushed the U.S. from being Canada’s main oil export market to one of its major competitors.

While David’s leadership in these areas is notable and critical to the industry’s success, equally important—and perhaps more important—has been the work he did to lead the industry’s shift in communications and perception.

In 2008, as David took office at CAPP, the Internet and key social media channels—Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn—were only starting to take hold in Canada. Soon, however, those channels were being used effectively by the oil industry’s environmental opponents, and it didn’t take long for public opinion to begin to shift against oil and gas production and, specifically, the continuing development of the oilsands.

David took it in stride, and began to move CAPP into a new age of energy and social communication.

When he arrived at CAPP, the organization’s external communications focus was limited, more attuned to speaking inward to the industry than outward to the Canadian public and industry opponents. Under his direction, CAPP expanded its external communications capabilities and effectively advanced the industry’s public dialogue.

This initiative didn’t just entail hiring more and more communications staff; it was about spearheading a cultural shift for Canadian oil and gas executives and workers.

David recognized that it was no longer enough for the industry to operate safely and productively. Producers now had to proactively engage with all stakeholders—those for and those against—in the discussion about their industry and its impact on the economy and the environment.

At the same time, he made it clear that improved communication wasn’t enough—the industry also had to improve its performance, especially regarding the environment. His work in transforming the way industry views and acts on its role in Canadian society, while defending its rights and the broad benefits it brings to stakeholders, has been critical as the oil and gas industry maps its way forward to a sustainable future.


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