The first step in building a career in energy: Reasons to attend Young Gastech

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Jack Middleton, Manager, Government Affairs, Steelhead LNG
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My first interactions with LNG came during an internship I did while studying Political Science at the University of Calgary. The internship was with former Canadian diplomat and ambassador, Paul Frazer in Washington, DC at his lobbying firm. At that time, Congress was passing legislation to streamline LNG export permits for the Department of Energy. I was able to work on related projects, allowing me to do research and attend committee hearings in the Senate. As a result, I became captivated by the global nature of the industry and potential of natural gas as a means of reducing global emissions.

Following my internship, I focused the rest of my undergraduate degree on energy topics by taking classes and joining clubs with an energy focus. In doing so, I discovered that there were few people with a social science background, like myself, involved in these organizations and that I could offer a unique perspective about the field. I heard about an opportunity to attend the Gastech 2014 program in Seoul, South Korea through one of these campus clubs. In order to attend, I wrote an essay about the disappearing North American market for Canadian natural gas caused by the US shale revolution and the emerging prospect of Canadian LNG to fill the gap. Attending the Young Gastech program was a one of a kind opportunity to discover how the industry works and to meet a variety of people, some of whom would lead me to my current position at Steelhead LNG. For students looking to get into the field, participating in Gastech 2018 is a fantastic first step on the path to building a meaningful career.

I was determined to work in the burgeoning Canadian LNG industry when I returned from Gastech but struggled to find an entry point. I spent two years working for the government of Alberta on flood recovery and then for several politicians in Alberta.

Eventually, one of my contacts from Gastech 2014 reached out with a job opportunity at Steelhead LNG, a Vancouver-based LNG development company. I joined the company in May of 2015, where I began working on a variety of projects in marketing and community relations until I moved into the Manager of Government Affairs position. At Steelhead LNG, I participate in our work to develop a globally competitive and world-leading project with low emissions and an innovative partnership with First Nations. In my position, I regularly engage with various levels of government to achieve our objectives. Interestingly, the questions about Canadian LNG that I sought to address in my application paper to Young Gastech in 2014 are the same as the ones Steelhead LNG are now directly working to address.

Steelhead LNG’s Kwispaa LNG project is co-managed with the Huu-ay-aht First Nations located near Port Alberni, British Columbia. One of the unique elements of Steelhead LNG is the approach to working together with First Nations, which is not viewed as a challenge, but rather an opportunity to add value, making the project stronger. Working with the Huu-ay-aht First Nations is one of the most satisfying parts of my job.

The energy sector is an exciting field undergoing rapid changes caused by scientific, social and political events. Our generation will need to manage the uncertainty of well-organized opposition groups, trade disputes, environmental issues and emissions reductions. These challenges shouldn’t be considered deterrents but should instead be viewed as an opportunity to include people of diverse backgrounds and disciplines in order to build better, more sustainable and responsible projects.

If you would like to attend the Young Gastech programme* and hear more from Jack Middleton from Steelhead LNGvisit the Gastech site today and submit your application. 

Image courtesy of Steelhead LNG