After four years of service, Chief Executive Officer and veteran energy professional Arlene Chow will retire from Heritage Petroleum Company Limited (Heritage).
With over four decades of sterling contribution to the energy sector, the geologist and engineer bids farewell to Heritage and to an exceptional leadership career in the industry.
The results of her stewardship have been impressive. Between 2018-2022, production on fields operated by Heritage grew by 21%, and last year witnessed a 49% increase in revenue. The financial performance confirms that the state enterprise can now firmly pay its own way. Today, the company has met all of its legacy debt obligations, paid all its royalties, levies and taxes, and invested in production growth and asset integrity.
The first and only woman in Trinidad and Tobago to head a national energy company, Ms. Chow’s knowledge and significant contribution to the industry is shaped by an extensive career that began in 1982 as an Operations Geologist in Exploration and Production at Petrotrin, immediately after graduating with a B.Sc. (Hon) in Geology and Chemistry from the UWI, Mona, Jamaica and an MSc in Engineering from the University of Florida. She quickly moved up the ranks to a Development Geologist, and Technical Specialist in Mapping and then Well information Systems, before moving on to energy major AMOCO Energy Company (T&T) Limited as Database Administrator, Gas Asset Management in 1998.
By 2000 she was promoted to the position of Head, Exploration & Production, Computer and information Systems after the company was acquired by BP plc. In 2001 Ms. Chow assumed the role of Subsurface Team Lead and Delivery Manager for Teak, Samaan Poui (TSP) to manage operations and production in a mature reservoir and ultimately sale of the asset. During that period, she developed Reservoir Management plans and a portfolio of prospects with a team of geoscientists and engineers, to arrest mature field decline by applying new thinking and innovative technology to optimize performance. This experience proved to be good preparation for her recent work at Heritage where she has led interventions in field decline and secondary recovery methods.
In 2005, bpTT appointed her Vice President Corporate Operations with responsibility for Performance Management, HSSE, Facilities Management and Information Technology for the company.
In 2009, Ms Chow moved to BP Alaska, first as North Slope Infrastructure manager, then as Head of the Project Management Office to restructure BP Alaska into a functional organization. She later was appointed to Area Operations Manager, with accountability for leading four of the Northernmost oil fields in safety, operations and production. Her sterling performance in Alaska led her to the role of Chief of Staff for the BP’s Global Production Division, as Advisor and key support to the Executive Vice President’s Office for performance delivery in the areas of Standards/Policies/Processes, Safety & Operational Risk.
On return to Trinidad in 2014, Ms. Chow was appointed to the position of Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Atlantic LNG, where she directed the organization through safe reliable and efficient operations, managing annual operating, production and capital expenditure budgets of over $300M USD annually and delivering revenues of over $1bn USD. She retired in 2018 from that position.
In 2019, then Minister of Energy and Energy Industries, the late Franklin Khan invited Ms. Chow to come out of retirement to support the Heritage Board in transitioning the organization into a profitable, lean and high-performing company. Ms. Chow worked with the Heritage Board to execute on a strategy to “Stabilize, Strengthen and Optimize” the company’s assets.
Distinguished by her low-keyed, straightforward and straight-talking management style, she is known to put the work and her people first. Throughout her career, she has maintained a deep commitment to her country, an unwavering connection to her home community of Sangre Grande, and a love for the simple life.
Speaking of her contribution, Chairman Michael Quamina said of Ms. Chow, “Arlene has been instrumental to the continuing turnaround at Heritage. We have relied on her industry knowledge and expertise in managing mature fields to actualize our vision for a viable and sustainable business. She has played a major role in shaping our plans for integrity upgrade and decommissioning of aging infrastructure, while at the same time leveraging technology and innovation to optimize production from finite resources. She has delivered immense value to the company and, in doing so, has provided sterling service to the country as we seek to maximize value from our hydrocarbon resources.
“We are now at a juncture where we must make tough strategic choices that will be informed by sustained lower oil prices, further resource decline and a more aggressive integrity programme. This phase of the journey will be led by our incoming CEO”.
Notably reticent of the limelight, Ms. Chow says this time, she is retiring for good. “It has been quite a journey. Many challenges but also many rewards. Today we are scaled for efficiency, have the right talent on board, and consistently turn a profit. However, moving forward considerable headwinds remain given that market changes, aging assets, and legacy debt payments will impact profit margins. But even with these challenges to its future profitability, I believe that Heritage will continue to be an important contributor to GDP for a long time.
“I feel confident that I leave Heritage with a strong foundation and am proud to have played a part in this national success story. As I have always said the greatest asset in Heritage is that which is above the ground, the dedicated team of professionals that has worked so hard to build a delivery culture and achieve these results. Leaving is bittersweet as Heritage has been my passion for the last 4 years.”
Ms. Chow’s retirement takes effect on 13 June 2023. A new CEO has been identified and is expected to be announced at a later date.
22nd May 2023