Founded in 1976, initial public offering in 1978
40+ year history of responsible energy development
Our founder, the late Clay Riddell, grew up in Manitoba thinking that he wanted to drive trains for a living. Then his sister, who was 10 years older, became a working geologist. She got him a summer job working as a junior assistant on a geological field party for the Manitoba Mines Branch. Clay graduated from the University of Manitoba with a geology degree, moved to Calgary and went to work for the Standard Oil Company in 1959. He spent many summers mapping surface geology in the Northwest and Yukon Territories, gaining valuable field experience. By 1969 he started his own business, C. H. Riddell Geological Consultants Ltd.
In 1971 he incorporated Paramount Oil & Gas Ltd. Clay believed that there was economically recoverable natural gas in northeastern Alberta. Paramount was successful in raising drilling dollars from drilling funds and small independents and explored for gas in the shallow horizons of northeast Alberta. Paramount pretty much had the area to itself for quite a few years. “No one else had gone in there. We’d mapped where the gas was and figured out how to get it out of the formation. We built the company on drilling where there was no competition,” said Mr. Riddell.
In 1978, the assets accumulated by Paramount Oil & Gas Ltd. were put into a new public company, Paramount Resources Ltd., which concurrently raised $5 million on the Alberta Stock Exchange selling by 40% of equity.
From a speech Clay gave in 2012: “What does a kid from Winnipeg know about starting and running a public oil and gas company – not much. I’m pretty sure I broke all the rules with respect to building a company. We were three or four years in before we had enough revenue to pay our G&A. The Bank of Montreal provided what they now look back on as – most of my “equity”. I once received a note from a shareholder written in pencil on a brown lunch bag that informed me I had a perfect formula to go broke. We were a natural gas company that kept adding reserves, had no production and no access to natural gas markets. “
When Paramount drilled its first well into the shallow gas play in northeast Alberta in 1976, there were no pipelines and conventional drilling practices had proved inadequate to provide conclusive evidence of the gas potential in the area. Clay and Paramount staff fine-tuned the application of air-drilling technology in low-pressure gas reservoirs, a technology that is now used extensively throughout the industry in shallow gas drilling. With Paramount’s specially developed drilling techniques, the Company made several large discoveries. Mr. Riddell parlayed this proprietary technology into value for Paramount shareholders and acquired large tracts of undeveloped land in the area.
Using unconventional drilling technology was a significant risk, and Clay also took significant personal financial risk to bring the gas reserves into production. Paramount made commitments which allowed NOVA to extend its transportation system to the area in 1982. This major lateral extension, the Liege Lateral, became known as the “line that Clay built”.
In 2003, after more than 20 years of successful exploration and development on the Northeast Alberta shallow gas trends, Clay and Paramount Resources successfully created a new public entity, Paramount Energy Trust. This was followed by the creation of Trilogy Energy Trust in 2005. After the government changed the rules for energy trusts, both trusts survived and became successful E&P companies.
In 1978, Paramount had six employees, one producing well and five million dollars of investment equity. Today, Paramount is an intermediate energy company with an extensive portfolio of liquids rich, unconventional plays and the financial strength to exploit these opportunities. Paramount is now comprised of a large inventory of repeatable drilling locations in multiple resource development projects, strong liquidity, and over 400 employees in its Calgary and field offices.
Clay Riddell believed strongly in giving back. His philanthropic contributions resulted in the creation of the Clayton H. Riddell Faculty of Environment, Earth and Resources at the University of Manitoba, the Clayton H. Riddell Graduate Program in Political Management at Carlton University, the Riddell Library and Learning Centre at Calgary’s Mount Royal University and the Vi Riddell Children’s Pain and Rehabilitation Centre at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. Mr. Riddell played an instrumental role in bringing the Shaw Charity Classic golf tournament to Calgary, which has raised over $93 million for over 200 children and youth charities across the province.
He was a member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta, the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists, and the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. He received the J.C. Sproule Memorial Plaque from the Canadian Institute of Mining (1994), the Stanley Slipper Gold Medal from the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists (1999), an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Manitoba (2004), and an Outstanding Explorer award from the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (2004). In 2006, Mr. Riddell was inducted into the Calgary Business Hall of Fame and in 2008 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. He received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Carlton University (2014), was inducted into the Petroleum Hall of Fame (2015) and into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame (2017).