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Ian McKinnon


Scottish-born Ian McKinnon played a key role in helping developing the government policies and regulations that have allowed Alberta's and Canada's petroleum industry to prosper for over the last half century.


McKinnon joined the Alberta Department of Lands and Mines in 1930, shortly after the federal government transferred mineral resources to the province. He rose to the position of Deputy Minister of Mines and Minerals, and in 1948 after the Leduc No.1 discovery, was appointed chairman of the Alberta Petroleum and Natural Gas Conservation Board, the forerunner of the Energy and Utilities Board.


During his time at Mines and Minerals, McKinnon was largely responsible for developing the structure needed to administer land and resources in the province. Following the Leduc discovery, Alberta had more oil than it needed. McKinnon worked closely with industry in the development of a proration system that shared available markets between producers. It served the interests of industry well, lasting until the late 1980s.


At the Conservation Board, McKinnon was the principal architect of the system under which Alberta gas was first allowed to be removed from the province. He was at the helm of the Conservation Board at the time of the Atlantic No. 3 blow out. Following the blowout, stringent but practical rules for blowout prevention and other conservation matters were brought in. These extended into rules encouraging enhanced oil recovery and the conservation of solution gas. Under McKinnon's tenure, the Alberta Conservation Board and the Canadian industry became recognized world leaders in matter of conservation.


McKinnon also played a key role in developing the regulations for the development of the Alberta Gas Trunkline system to gather gas throughout the province. In 1959, McKinnon took a two-year leave of absence to become the founding chairman of the National Energy Board. That two years stretched to nine, and he retired from the NEB in 1968. During his tenure at the NEB, McKinnon faced difficult decisions related to the export of natural gas. He strongly resisted political pressure to extend the NEB's powers beyond the licensing of common carrier pipelines to include the regulation of gas prices at the wellhead.


McKinnon, who passed away in 1976, was also a member of the Order of Canada.


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