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Angus Mackenzie took Canadian oil expertise to the front lines of the global petroleum industry just as the Organization of Petroleum Countries cartel was emerging as a global force. He started his career in a small company mapping photo-geology. Over the years he became expert at growing international companies. One, Scimitar Oils Ltd. partnered with the emirate of Dubai to build a Liquefied Natural Gas plant before LNG took off as the next big source of the global supply. Mackenzie's Syracuse Oils was the first Canadian company to acquire blocks in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea and his next company Sunningdale Oils Ltd. was instrumental in discovering the North Sea's Brae Field.
Born in British Columbia in 1917, Mackenzie developed an international portfolio that could serve as a model to Canadian companies trying to establish interests overseas. After taking Syracuse Oils public in 1969 and growing its production in Alberta, he began acquiring concessions off the coast of Abu Dhabi, as well as in Indonesia and the UK North Sea. In 1971, he expanded the company's holdings through amalgamating Syracuse with his friend Doc Seaman's Bow Valley Industries Ltd. Bow Valley Energy is still producing in the UK North Sea.
Within the same year, Mackenzie started his next venture: Sunningdale Oils Ltd., a TSX-listed exploration company. He grew Sunningdale internationally by purchasing more assets in the UK North Sea and offshore Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Sunningdale and its partners developed the Abu Al Bu Khoosh oilfield which produced 80,000 barrels of oil per day. After Kerr-McGee Corp. purchased Sunningdale, Mackenzie formed Sceptre Oils Ltd. which followed its predecessors by buying assets in Canada and Abu Dhabi. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. then took over Sceptre.
Not content to sit back, Mackenzie threw his energy into the creation of another company, Scimitar Oils Ltd. The contacts and friendships Mackenzie had established in the Emirates over the years stood him in good stead, helping him secure a contract with the government of Dubai to build the LNG plant. The plant, which he subsequently sold to the host country, produces up to 100 million cubic feet of gas a day and 25,000 barrels of liquids. He now holds a major interest in Rally Energy Ltd., which is active in Egypt.
According to his friend James Palmer, Queen's Counsel, the secret to Mackenzie's negotiating savvy was the fact that he "always made sure there was enough left on the table for the other guy." He also won friends by make others feel important. "He has quietly helped a great number of people and is noted for his generosity. He has never forgotten his early friends," writes Palmer.