Meet the members

Alex Pourbaix, Chief Operating Officer, TransCanada PipeLines Limited

25 May 2016

How did you come to be in the oil and gas industry?

In the early 1990s, I was a young attorney at an energy commodity trading company in Calgary, and in 1994 we sold that company to TransCanada, where I have been employed since.

What is your proudest work-related achievement to date? 3 key achievements:

I’ve never been one to relish successes. I’m just happy that we have continued to grow TransCanada’s businesses and profits consistently for almost 20 years, while operating safely and minimizing our impact on the environment.

What is your role in your job?

I have overall responsibility for all of TransCanada’s commercial businesses, including operations, project development and construction. 

What is your businesses main growth area?

With three different businesses – gas pipelines, liquids pipelines, and power – TransCanada has quite an adaptable business model. We deploy resources to the businesses that have the best opportunities.

Where do you see the greatest opportunity in the oil and gas market?

Right now TransCanada’s growth opportunities include connecting B.C. gas production volumes to proposed west coast LNG projects, $23 billion of short-term projects, including approximately $8 billion of projects embedded within the Columbia Pipeline Group, which TransCanada expects to acquire by the second half of 2016, and our two large-scale oil projects – KXL and Energy East.

What do you see as the greatest challenges?

Right now, the greatest challenge to every infrastructure business going forward is the lack of transparent regulatory and environmental permitting processes. But these processes must be transparent, non-repetitive, and result in timely decisions based on facts, not politics. 

What is the wisest advice you’ve received from a mentor?

Always walk the halls with a smile no matter how tough things are at work. People watch for cues, don’t give them anything to worry about. 

What advice would you pass on to a recent graduate wishing to work in your line of business?

Learn everything you can about the business and then network like crazy. I’m way more likely to hire someone I’ve met and developed a relationship with. 

What are the strategic priorities for your company in the next 12 months and beyond?

(1) keep our people safe and don’t harm the environment (2) close the Columbia acquisition and execute Columbia’s growth projects (3)  Make KXL and Energy East Canada’s market access solutions.

If you could wave a magic wand over the global industry, what would you change and why?

I would change the global public perceptions of oil and gas business. I think it is a terrible tragedy that the energy industry has worked miracles to improve the quality life of everyone on the planet, yet they have been disliked and attacked across the world.

How do you prefer to spend your spare time?

Fly-fishing, golfing, and spending time with my family 

What’s your favorite holiday destination?

The Florida Keys 

All-time favorite book?

“The Making of the Atomic Bomb” by Richard Rhodes

All-time favorite film?

“A River Runs Through It”

What three items would you take with you to a desert island?

Bug spray, water purifier, fishing line.


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