ATCO is a diversified corporation with strong roots in Canadian energy sectors. Its global subsidiaries provide a variety of energy-related services, including prefabricated housing and logistics, pipelines and distribution, and retail energy.
With a complex, networked corporate structure filled with fossil-fuel-laden assets such as coal and fracked gas, ATCO—one of Canada’s largest energy infrastructure companies—makes our Top 50 as an emitter.
Head office: Calgary, Alberta
Countries of operation: Canada, US, Mexico, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Portugal, Australia and Chile 12
Revenue: C$4.5 billion 13
Assets: C$21.8 billion14
Employees: approximately 7,00015
Memberships: Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, Alberta Energy Efficiency Alliance
ATCO was created in 1947 to provide transportation services for Alberta’s fledgling oil industry. The company was founded by Ronald Southern and remains a family business; daughter Nancy Southern now runs the ATCO empire from her position as board chair and chief executive officer.1
|Sentgraf Enterprises Ltd.
|Royal Bank of Canada
|Bank of Montreal
|QVGD Investors Inc.
|Toronto Dominion Bank
|The Province of Alberta
Included are all shareholdings of 1% and greater. Source: Orbis Database, October 2018.
In Canada, ATCO’s operations include ATCO Power, which operates two coal-fired power plants in Alberta (one shared with TransAlta), and Canadian Utilities Limited, an energy distribution company specializing in electricity and natural gas. Abroad, ATCO Mexico and ATCO Australia provide similar gas and electricity services.2
Energy generation and retail provision are major components of ATCO’s business profile, especially in Western Canada. The firm owns a controlling stake in 13 facilities spanning British Columbia to Ontario, and the majority (10) use natural gas to produce electricity. 3 Considering this portfolio, ATCO is well positioned to capitalize on the changing landscape of energy generation in Alberta, following the NDP’s 2016 call for the phase-out of coal-powered energy generation by 2030. According to Nancy Southern, ATCO plans to “green” their two coal-fired plants in advance of this deadline, by converting them to natural gas4—even though natural gas produces similar total emissions levels to coal.5
Despite this solid footing in domestic energy provision and distribution, ATCO is looking outside Canada for investment opportunities. As a recent annual report states, “Our long-term success depends on our ability expand into new markets and lines of business”.6 Chile and Mexico are two sites of this recent diversified expansion.
In early 2016, ATCO bought a 50 per cent stake in Sabinco Soluciones Modulares S.A., a Chilean modular structures company. Sabinco manufactures and rents modular accommodations for mining operations, and for other industrial purposes in the region. ATCO intends to expand into other countries in South America,7 perhaps to accommodate Canadian mining interests. As of 2014, Latin America and the Caribbean accounted for over half of Canadian mining assets abroad, valued at $72.4 billion.8
ATCO’s presence in Mexico has been building since the establishment of ATCO Mexico in 2014. In 2016 it finalized the construction of two natural gas power distribution units in San Luis Potosí,9 and in 2017, ATCO purchased Electricidad del Golfo (EGO) Hydro, which owns a 35 megawatt hydroelectric power station in Veracruz, Mexico.10 ATCO has also been commissioned to build and operate a natural gas pipeline in the Mexican state of Hidalgo.11
Learn more about ATCO at LittleSis.org
The intent of the Corporate Mapping Project database is to engage Canadians in a conversation about the role of the fossil fuel sector in our democracy, by “mapping” how power and influence play out in the oil, gas and coal industries of BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan.