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Donald Milton Wolcott


Don Wolcott was born in the U.S.A. and grew up in Ponoka, Alberta where the family farmed after moving there in 1929.


Don served in the RCAF 1943-1945 graduating as a pilot. He then attended the University of Alberta graduating with a B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering in 1950.


Don joined Gulf Oil and spent time in the U.S. where as a trainee he won a cash award for creative thinking in directing a natural gas processing project. He returned to Canada and later became division manager of gas operations for Gulf. During this period he developed the Stettler Gas Conservation Project.


In 1957 he left Gulf to join Dome Exploration where he was put in charge of natural gas processing and marketing on natural gas liquids. In this capacity as vice-president and then senior VP, Don proceeded with many innovative projects for Dome. In 1958 he developed the NGLs recovery system at Steelman, Saskatchewan and in the same year developed the Edmonton Liquids Gas Plant, a straddle plant on the Northwestern Utilities pipeline system (a first). He also developed new markets for the propane extracted; in particular northern Manitoba.


In conjunction with the straddle plant built by Alberta and Southern on the Nova Foothills system in 1970, Dome and Amoco partnered to build a liquids pipeline from Cochrane to Edmonton and then batched the liquids (a first) through Inter-Provincial to Sarnia for eastern Canadian markets. Don played a major role in conceiving and bringing all this about. Through this, Dome became a major player in the NGLs business in Canada.


In 1971 and 1972 Dome and Dow chemicals were instrumental in conjunction with Nova in the start of Alberta's petrochemical industry. Ethane extracted at the pipeline straddle plants was the main feedstock for this industry. In this connection Dome negotiated the right to the second straddle plant to be built on TransCanada's system at Empress, Alberta. This was a one Bcf/day plant designed to extract ethane to two Bcf/day subsequently. Don headed up Dome's activities in all these areas. He then, along with Dow, conceived the Cochin liquids pipeline to move surplus ethane, ethylene and propanes to eastern Canada and U.S. markets. This 12 inch line was technically very advanced for the time and he was ably assisted in its design by John Beddome who had then joined Dome.


Don left Dome in 1976 to join Petro-Canada as senior vice-president, Project Development, responsible for tarsands, NGLs and marketing activities. When Don Wolcott left Dome in 1976, 80 per cent of that company's very large wealth came from the marketing schemes and transportation systems he had instituted. While at Petro-Canada, Don was the architect of the Arctic Pilot Project designed to utilize ice-breaking tankers for the delivery of liquefied natural gas from the Arctic Islands to southern markets. But surplus gas was quickly being developed in southern Canada at that time, which changed the economics and the project was abandoned, but who knows what the future may hold for such a project.


Don left Petro-Canada in 1981 and with friend Vern Horte started Morgan Hydrocarbons Inc., a public exploration and gas processing company. He also started his private company, D.M. Wolcott and Associated Ltd. He was CEO of both companies each of which achieved remarkable success. Both companies became part owners in the Empress natural gas liquids plant and the West Pembina Joint Venture Processing Facility. D.M. Wolcott Associates designed, constructed and operated the Empress plant for a consortium of companies who were owners of Progas Ltd., a gas exporter at Empress. This plant is now owned by ATCO Midstream and processes up to one Bcf/day of export gas. D.M. Wolcott also became operator of the large West Pembina plant which was completed in 1984. Prior to his death in February 1987, D.M. Wolcott Associates constructed, operated and was part owner of a new gas liquids recovery plant at Nottingham, Saskatchewan and the Shigwell plant at Morningside, Alberta.


In 1986 Don established the Wolcott scholarship for outstanding grade 12 students in the Nottingham area. This prevailed for 10 years. In 1996, the Wolcott family opened the Don Wolcott Laboratory at the University of Calgary as a tribute to Don. It contains state-of-the-art computer equipment for the Department of Biological Sciences, Physics and Astronomy.


Don was a unique, creative, one-of-a-kind guy who contributed greatly to the industry and country.


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