The seventies and early eighties was a time of global energy crisis; Canada's energy resources were sorely pressed. It was at this time that Clay Riddell had a major impact on the future of Canada's energy reserves. He used basic geological principles, along with innovative interpretations of underground reservoir conditions and air drilling technology to discover and develop major new gas fields in northeastern Alberta.
Clay Riddell graduated from the University of Manitoba with a B.Sc.(Hons.) in Geology in 1959 and he went on to become a pioneering geologist of vision and entrepreneurial drive.
Riddell drilled his first well in this region when there were no pipelines, at a time when conventional drilling practice had proven inadequate, and traditional thinking had staunchly ruled out natural gas production. Riddell founded Paramount Resources during this time and this early exploration success in northeastern Alberta has continued into the 21st century, resulting in total gas production and reserve definition in Devänian and Cretaceous rocks amounting to trillions of cubic feet. Building on this success, the company is breaking more new frontiers by exploring for deep gas in the United States.
The same skills and innovative thinking that opened up the gas fields in northeastern Alberta have recently been applied to northwestern Alberta and the Northwest Territories, where Riddell's company has already had exploration successes in what could prove to be a new major natural gas producing area. His work with the Deh Cho peoples of Ft. Liard has been collaborative and exemplary. Early in the exploration process he established a strong working relationship with the community by providing employment opportunities to many local people.
As an established exploration geologist, Riddell has been equally successful in his skill at developing and overseeing a company. As President of Paramount Resources for 24 years, he is one of the longest serving corporate presidents of a Canadian energy company. He has earned the respect, admiration and loyalty of his staff, as indicated by the fact that staff turnover at Paramount Resources is virtually non-existent. Paramount Resources has managed to grow and compete successfully with giants in the industry, and in many cases outperform them.
While successfully developing Paramount Resources, Riddell has contributed his time to the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists (CSPG), to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and to the Geological Association of Canada, as well as to the organization and success of numerous national scientific meetings. Riddell is also recognized in the geological and oil community for his considerable organizational skills with respect to volunteer organizations and volunteer effort. As president of the CSPG he promoted and supported activities of the CSPG National Liaison Committee and was extremely effective in organizing collaborative efforts between industry and universities. In this regard, he was instrumental in bringing the CSPG's significant resources to bear on the expansion of student scholarships and field trip grants. More recently he has brought these talents to advising the University of Manitoba during the Building on Strengths capital campaign.
Clayton Riddell is a Winnipegger. His quiet exterior belies a determination tomake things work, even if it takes a long time; here it is easy to gain the impression that many of his attributes reflect his Manitoban roots and upbringing. His attachment to Manitoba is reflected in his frequent visits to Winnipeg and to family in Riverton.
His geological background and abilities were formed during his experience as a student at the University of Manitoba; they are also due to professors like the late Edward Leith, in honour of whom the Ed Leith Cretaceous Menagerie was assembled. Instruction in palaeontology, Earth history and stratigraphy was a key ingredient in Riddell's exploration skill. In recognition of this education and his ties to Manitoba, Clay took a leadership role in supporting the Menagerie. As a University of Manitoba alumnus he truly represents a role model for all students regardless of their career objectives.