#6: Steve Williams
President & CEO, Suncor Energy Inc.
Why he matters: Doesn’t let depressed oil prices slow him down
Does oilsands mining have a future? Steve Williams, head of the oldest and biggest operator in the business, gave his answer recently when Suncor Energy bought a further 10% stake in the Fort Hills oilsands project for $310 million from partner Total SA. More significantly, Williams later surprised markets with a hostile, $4.5-billion bid for Canadian Oil Sands, the largest holder of the rival Syncrude joint venture. COS called the offer “wholly inadequate,” but Williams isn’t giving up. If successful, Suncor would control nearly half of Syncrude. That would give the company an even more dominant position in the pits north of Fort McMurray, which even some Calgary financiers consider a sunset industry in light of low oil prices and international pressure to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Williams’s confidence may come from his predecessor, Rick George, who used periods of low oil prices to snap up assets, exploit economies of scale and accrue shareholder value.