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Clarence Magnus Christensen
Clarence "Chris" Christensen is a native Calgarian, born in November 1928. He launched his oil patch career with James & Reimer Trucking, Highland Exploration, and Perforating Guns of Canada before joining Commonwealth Drilling in 1953 as safety supervisor, which marked the beginning of his long and distinguished career in oilfield safety.
Chris left Commonwealth in 1962 and started Standard Safety and Consulting Services Ltd., initially to provide consulting services to several drilling contractors. Soon, however, he began providing equipment and supervision for sour drill stem testing (DST) work, and his company continued to grow, with branches in many Alberta locations. Chris was called on to provide services for difficult sour gas problems in western Canada and overseas, and Standard Safety worked closely with famed oilfield firefighter Red Adair on several occasions.
Safety procedures used today during sour DSTs were developed in part through the work done by Standard Safety. Chris was actively involved in bringing the use of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) to the drilling industry, replacing canister masks. Chris helped train drilling crews in the hazards of sour gas, and many of the teaching principles that he pioneered are still included in current H2S training programs. Over the 43 years that Standard Safety was in business, it provided a training ground for many employees who went on to share their skills with the industry.
Chris also assisted with other important industry innovations. Workers wearing SCBA units during cold weather often experienced fogging problems inside the faceplate. Chris worked with a major manufacturer of SCBA equipment and recommended a nose cup be provided for these masks. These cups are now standard equipment for winter use of SCBA.
The sour gas industry also benefited from Chris' desire to solve the problem of supplying rig crews with a constant supply of air while they pulled drill pipe after a sour DST. He was one of the first to adapt supplied air breathing apparatus and air supply trailers to drilling operations, and he developed the largest mobile air supply unit of the time for use in deeper wells where long periods were required under the mask.
Chris sat on the Canadian Standards Association's compressed breathing air committee to represent oil and gas industry concerns, and he was also a member of a provincial committee created to investigate alternatives to the existing supply of compressed breathing air hose.
While safety equipment and procedures are constantly being improved upon for the protection of workers from the hazards of sour gas, much of the work that is done today in the drilling and service industries is based on practices developed by industry leaders like Chris. His contributions to safety in the oil and gas industry were recognized in 1994 when he was honoured by the Calgary Old-Timers' Association as the Honouree of the Year.