Dean Lemieux, in front of the Nottingham gas plant he used to be superintendent of. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

In recent years, the Saskatchewan Oil and Gas Show has presented its Southeast Saskatchewan Legends Award. Pipeline Online is publishing their biographies here. The oil show is June 5-6, with the Legends awards being presented on June 5. Tickets to attend the awards ceremony and luncheon can be purchased here (if you are an exhibitor, please do not use that link.) More information can be found at oilshow.ca

Dean Lemieux was born and raised at Alida, Saskatchewan, in 1965. His father worked on the rigs and then had his own Alida-based oilfield construction company when Dean was young. Dean worked for his father part-time as a teenager.

Lemieux graduated in 1984 from Carnduff High School. He started working on a crew truck, doing contract maintenance for Mobil Oil. “From there, one of the contract operators went to work permanently for another company, so I got a battery operating job for Mobile in ’84.

“Then I operated until ’87. They started building a battery down at Alida, again, and they promoted me to junior supervisor, helping out the Mobil construction superintendent.”

That led to his first leadership position, supervising the battery construction for half a year. He went back to relief battery operating. In late 1989, Mobil sold the North Nottingham Unit to NAL Resources, which at the time was North American Life (this was when life insurance companies had oil and gas as part of their investment portfolios). NAL soon bought the Alida Unit. About 10 years later, they bought the Rosebank area, between Storthoaks and Alida.

“The contract operators were not going to be hired for the new company. Brent Dunnigan with Armada Resources at that time approached me to work for him. I trained a couple of his operators in the area, then started consulting for Brent, mostly on NAL properties,” Lemieux said.

NAL started drilling horizontal wells in the area in the early 1990s, shortly after they bought the Nottingham properties.

Dean married Anna-Marie Fornwald of Lampman in 1992. They met while she was working at Kenosee Lake on her summer’s off from university. She was completing her finance degree at the University of Saskatchewan. After graduation, Anna-Marie spent some time working for the provincial finance department in Regina, before working in admin for several companies in southeast Saskatchewan. They have three children – twins Austin and Lucia in 1994, and Dalton in 1998.

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The birth of the twins in particular factors into the story, because they were born two days before Dean started his new foreman job for NAL.

For the previous four years Target Resources had managed NAL’s properties with Armada operating and consulting for them. In 1994 NAL decided to bring it in house. “NAL decided they were going to manage their own properties and wanted a field foreman. So, my good wife got me to apply for the company position. And Feb. 15, 1994, I was hired as production foreman for NAL Resources. We had no employees other than myself and one admin in the office,” he said.

Dean Lemieux. Submitted

He worked initially out of Alida. But in 1999, NAL had bought enough of the ownership of the Nottingham gas plant to challenge operatorship of the plant and take it over. Nottingham was and is one of the oldest and largest gas plants in southeast Saskatchewan, dating back to the 1950s. The plant foreman that was running it decided not to accept a position with NAL Resources. “So two days prior to taking over the gas plant, they came to my office in Alida and said, ‘Here you go, Dean. You’re the new plant foreman and you’ve got ten employees under you,’” he said.

“I knew nothing about gas plant processing. And the HR person said, ‘Well, you’ve got experienced people under you. And you’re just overseeing the plant and managing people.

That led to Lemieux eventually training for a number of gas processing competencies.

The addition of the gas plant led to a promotion as southeast Saskatchewan superintendent.

The field office was moved to the Nottingham gas plant, allowing everyone from oil operations and gas operations to work together as a team.

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In 1996, NAL Resources amalgamated with the Manufacturers Life Insurance Company to form Manulife Financial The investment division kept the NAL Resources name for the energy division. It was one of the first oil companies to be converted into an oil and gas trust.

In 2000, Lemieux was honoured with a Manulife Stars of Excellence award. Manulife each year recognizes its top achievers from around the world, employees who have demonstrated key star qualities, superior knowledge, skill, trust, and integrity. Lemieux and his team were recognized earlier in the year from Ziff Energy Group for having some of the lowest operating costs in southeast Saskatchewan.

 

After living in Carnduff for nine years, the Lemieux’s bought 100 acres northeast of the town, just 14 miles from the gas plant. They built a new home and started raising some cattle, eventually expanding their land holdings and herd.

In 2003 NAL bought a portion of Nexen, which led to Lemieux working out of an Estevan office. That meant he now had around 45 employees working under him and more than doubling NAL’s production in southeast Saskatchewan.

NAL purchased assets near Kindersley, which led to that area coming under Lemieux’s responsibility as well in 2011, as he took over as superintendent for all of NAL’s operations in Saskatchewan.

Whitecap Resources bought NAL in 2021, but Lemieux was not brought over beyond the transition. He was with NAL for almost 27 years. NAL Resources was one of a very few oil and gas companies to keep its company name through its entire 31-year existence. Lemieux dedicated most of his career to NAL and took pride in managing the company as if it were his own. Throughout his career he has had the opportunity to work with an exceptionally good team that were knowledgeable and hard working. He has really enjoyed working the with numerous service and supply companies and has made some great friends in the industry.

Lemieux took a year off from the oilfield to work on his farm. Randy Ulrich of Woodley Well Services reached out to Lemieux and asked if he would like to do some oilfield construction consulting. That led to the creation of Coyote Oilfield Supervision. Dean is in the field supervising construction and maintenance projects and Anna-Marie manages the admin.

Along the way, Lemieux found time to volunteer, helping build the Carnduff golf clubhouse. He served as secretary/treasurer with the Carnduff Oilmen’s golf committee for many years. He spent 25-plus years with the oil spill contingency group, including 15 years on the executive. Dean led the CAPP Energy in Action initiative for five years in several communities in southeast Saskatchewan including Lampman, Oxbow, Midale and Carnduff.

When the Lemieux’s are not working, they are raising nearly 100 head of cattle, hunting, fishing, boating, golfing or spending time at their lake cabin in North Dakota. His two sons followed Dean into the oilpatch. Austin works with Competition Environmental and Dalton works with Day Group of Companies. Their daughter, Lucia, is a pharmacist in Regina.

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2024 Southeast Saskatchewan Legends: Dean Gilliss