The concept of Phoenix started in late 1989, or about four years after deregulation of oil and gas marketing started in Canada . At that time, Dave Maffitt was Manager of Marketing at Canada Northwest Energy Limited, an intermediate oil & gas exploration and production company with assets around the world. In Canada , Canada Northwest Energy operated a number of small natural gas processing plants, which processed natural gas from nearby wells operated by 3rd party junior producers. In addition to the processing services, the company offered to purchase the gas production from the 3rd party producers, effectively providing a “one-stop shopping” midstream & marketing service to those juniors focused on exploration and development of gas reserves.
During the negotiation of these midstream & marketing agreements, the 3rd party producer was typically represented by an overworked engineering or operations manager, who generally did not have the "foggiest" idea what gas marketing was all about. Occasionally, the producer was represented by an independent marketing consultant, but there were very few of these individuals available during this era. Also, during this time, gas prices were very low, often dropping below $1.00/GJ. In such an environment, every penny counted and expertise in marketing could quickly pay for itself. Dave Maffitt found that he often would be educating these producers on the subject of gas marketing during the course of the negotiation, and thought “Wouldn't it be great to be on their side of the table helping them optimize their interests?”
During this period of low oil & gas prices, larger companies were leaving the maturing WCSB to focus their limited resources on international prospects. This exodus provided the opportunity for junior E&P companies to use their efficient processes to exploit the smaller remaining prospects. It became very obvious that the rapidly growing junior E&P sector needed more help with the marketing of its production and that an outsourcing strategy to keep the costs down was the way to go!
Phoenix was incorporated in April, 1990 and commenced operations in May, 1990. The company was a “one-man show” based in a single office provided by a junior oil & gas company. Early producer clients of Phoenix included Hillcrest Resources, Pinnacle Resources and Canor Energy Ltd. Other early clients of Phoenix included Ziff Energy Group, Coonawarra Resources and TCPL Cogeneration.
In 1991, Phoenix hired its second employee (Diane Jonson) who took over the administrative duties of running the Phoenix office, thereby freeing up more of Dave Maffitt's time to service Phoenix 's clients' needs. In late 1991, Dave Maffitt entered the part-time (evening) MBA program at the University of Calgary . Phoenix also started its training division by taking over the Introduction to Canadian Natural Gas Marketing seminar started by David Laws and Bob Seaton.
In early 1994, Phoenix moved to its current location in the Life Plaza building of downtown Calgary . The move was triggered by the rapid growth of Phoenix 's consulting division and the hiring of several associates. The office was expanded again in 1998 and 2007 and now covers 3,800 square feet of space, providing Phoenix 's associates with a downtown hub, from which to serve Phoenix 's clients. Resources now include corporate LAN and remote/mobile computing, online access to real-time market prices and news, an extensive database of marketing information and a library of industry books and publications. Administrative, analytical, IT, seminar and business development support for the eight consulting professionals are provided by five staff members.