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Biography & Autobiography Business

We Gambled Everything

The Life and Times of an Oilman

by (author) Arne Nielsen

foreword by Peter C. Newman

The University of Alberta Press
Initial publish date
Nov 2012
Business, Personal Memoirs
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2012
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Nov 2012
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"We gambled everything-our careers, our fortunes, the future of our nation-and every day brought new discoveries. It was like living on a frontier."-Arne Nielsen The memoir of Canadian petroleum industry leader Arne Nielsen is not a conventional business biography. During his six decades in the business, he witnessed critical events in the oil industry that influenced Canada's economic history. From rain-soaked tents on the Arctic barren land to the luxurious New York offices of a multinational oil company, Arne Nielsen's expansive knowledge of geology and the oil industry made him one of the most influential and well-known figures of his time. His memoir provides crucial details and unique perspectives on events that will be of interest to the next generation of oil industry executives as well as to consumers, economists, and ecologists.

About the authors

Arne Nielsen is a retired petroleum geologist and senior corporate executive. He earned his BSc in geology from the University of Alberta in 1948 and his MSc in 1950 and went on to discover the Pembina Cardium oil field near Devon, Alberta in 1953. Arne Nielsen became President and General Manager of Mobil Oil Canada, then Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Canadian Superior Oil, and was twice Chairman of the Canadian Petroleum Association. He was co-architect of the energy policies adopted by the Mulroney government after the contentious National Energy Program of the 1970s. He participated in Canada’s first energy trade mission to China in 1972. He lives in Calgary, Alberta.

Arne Nielsen's profile page

Peter C. Newman has been writing about Canadian history and politics for half a century. His previous works include the bestselling history of the Hudson Bay Company, Company of Adventurers, as well as books on prime ministers John Diefenbaker, Lester B. Pearson, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, and Brian Mulroney. A former editor-in-chief of the Toronto Star and Maclean’s, Newman has won a half dozen of the country’s most illustrious literary awards, including the Drainie-Taylor Biography Prize for his memoir, Here Be Dragons: Telling Tales of People, Passion, and Power. He is a Companion of the Order of Canada. Newman lives in Belleville, Ontario.

Peter C. Newman's profile page


  • Unknown, Petroleum History Society Book of the Year - Book of the Year

Editorial Reviews

#1 on the Calgary Herald Bestseller list.

Calgary Herald

#1 on the Calgary Herald's Bestsellers list for the week of June 9, 2013.

“The author, a prominent retired Canadian oil geologist and senior industry executive, captures in his memoirs the excitement of oil discoveries on the Alberta and Saskatchewan plains during the 1940s and ’50s…. [H]e shares the excitement of locating the multibillion barrel Pembina oilfield in 1953, that has become one of the most productive fields in North America…. Nielsen analyzes the changes in Canadian federal energy policies that have dramatically affected the level of oil and gas investment, exploration, and development in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin, eastern Canada off shore, and in the Northwest Territories.”

Great Plains Research, Vol. 24, No. 2

"Author Nielsen is a former CEO of a major oil company in Canada. During his 60-year career in the Canadian petroleum business, he discovered a major oil field in Alberta and helped develop the energy policies adopted by the Mulroney government. In this memoir he stresses political aspects of the petroleum industry, offering an insider's perspective on the motivations and machinations of key figures behind the scenes." Book News Inc., 2013

"Arne - everyone refers to him by his first name - is lucid, insightful and passionate. A member of the Canadian Petroleum Hall of Fame, his lively anecdotes and candid assessments of the many battles he survived fill his biography." David Finch, Calgary Herald

"The oil industry is a tumultuous one, one that often calls for risk. We Gambled Everything is a memoir from Arne Nielsen who offers his insights.... [It] is a fascinating tale..." Midwest Book Review, June 2013

#1 on the Calgary Herald's Bestsellers list for the week of January 12, 2013.

"Arne Nielsen, 87, is a Petroleum Hall of Famer. Nielsen was 'chief executive politician' of Mobil Oil Canada, as he puts it; discoverer of the Pembina No. 1 field at Drayton Valley, Alta.; twice chairman of the Canadian Petroleum Association; famed foe of the National Energy Program. His career spanned the biggest energy boom in history - a 'golden age,' Nielsen calls it." Holly Doan, Blacklock's Reporter

#5 on the Calgary Herald's Bestsellers list for the week of December 14, 2012.

#7 on the Calgary Herald's Bestsellers list for the week of March 23, 2013.

Other titles by Peter C. Newman