Tuesday, July 2, 2013

TOPP Interview: Sally Meador-Roberts; Owner of Sonshine Exploration and Geologist

Welcome to the latest interview for TOPP.  I was honored to have the opportunity to interview Sally Meador Roberts; owner of Sonshine Exploration and geologist.  As an independent who own’s her own company, she offers us a unique view as she has to face not only the geology end of the business, but the business end and all the challenges that come with it.  Challenges that I can personally relate to as a small business owner (Check out the new site.  Click our icon on the right).  I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I enjoyed visiting with her.

JL: Hi Folks.  This is Jay Leeper with The Oil Patch Post.  I have as my special guest, Sally Meador-Roberts of Sonshine Exploration.  Ms. Meador-Roberts has been at this for almost 40 years as a geologist, 24 of them as an independent Explorations Geologist.  Ms. Roberts was nice enough to let me visit with her and let me post a few questions.  

Ms. Roberts, is there anyone you’d like to say hello to?

SMR: Howdy, y’all! 

JL: LOL!  If you would, ma’am, please tell us a little about yourself.

SMR: I was born in a small town up in Iowa.  A town of 200.  You never know where you’ll end up.  I got my bachelors at the University of Colorado.  My dad had always said the only thing women did was teach and that was the Colorado State Teaching College and I was bound and determined that I was not going to teach so I got my hours for my BS but took my education and did a full year internship for teaching.  I did this to fulfill my dad’s request but unfortunately he passed away before I graduated.  It probably was a good thing because I went to the University of Arizona and got my Master’s degree there.  At that time, every weekend was field trips and the only thing Spring Break was for was weeklong field trips.  I look back at what a blessing it was and all the things we got to see.  Well, we kinda fast forward to City Service.  I wanted to work for them because they had a 1 year training program and I really wanted that.  They only took about 15-18 people every year.  The training program was set as they felt it was easier to train geologists to interpret geophysics than it was to take a geophysicist and train them to understand geology.  (It was an extensive training program – 9 months intensive geophysics,3 months advanced geology, land, etc.  Classes I would rely on later in my career.  I have done LOTS of well site work, trained geologists in well site work, LOTS of log analyses, putting prospects together from grass roots to successful discovery, field development of discoveries, consulting for other independents, you name it, I’ve done it.  As an independent you have to do all your own data mining, drafting, writing, paperwork for BLM lands, state lands, units, NMOCD and RRC hearings.) I don’t want geophysicists to take that wrong.  Forty years ago, geophysicists training was basically physics and not much geo.  Of the group, they (City Services) would find out who of us were pretty good in geophysics and those who were better off in geology.  At that time, we had nine months in training.  At that time, help in vibro-seis had just came out; the same vibro-seis that is now forty years old.  We got field trips to the barrier reef off the shores of Belize to digging trenches in the Colorado River down by Easton to knowing the rocks up in the Colorado Rockies.  We had to interpret dynamite data to single fold data to vibro-seis data.  At that time, it was BC … Before Computers. 


SMR: The Seis Log was just coming out and we had to do that by hand.  When I was out on Drilling Rigs, that’s what I did.  They gave me the log and I’d color them by hand and then take them back in.  Now, all that’s done in seconds by PCs and things.  I had gotten to do a Summer Intern (use to be called a Summer Hand) with City Service here in Midland.  Being from a small town, in 1975, Midland was 45K.  For me, that was a big city.

JL: Heck yeah.

SMR: I enjoyed my time.  I got to work in the Four Corners area.  People want to know the difference between a wildcat and a rand wildcat, go work for Four Corners for a little while.  I enjoyed it.  Like I said, I went full time with them and got the benefit of the training program.  We even had a week of training on report writing for the industry.  Probably, this is where being candid and outspoken worked for me because I wrote them a nice letter saying that if they send me to Houston, I’ll know they don’t want me. 


SMR: My boss was wanting to recommend me to Denver.  I got my Bachelors in Greeley, just north of Denver and I really didn’t want to go back but I couldn't say that.  I held my peace because there were two other shoe shiners who wanted Denver.  When I was sent to Midland, I was probably the only person alive that was excited to go to Midland.


SMR: Out here, I was able to go back to work in the Four Corners and Paradox Basin and northern San Juan Basin.  Broke in working 4-Corners area, then SENM, Eastern Shelf, W/NM, SE Colorado, So. Utah, All of Arizona, N. Permian basin TX, SENM (30Yrs in SENM).  I got to work with shelf edges there and work with some algal mounds and get my feet wet.  I also worked the north end of the Tatum Basin and Permian Basin; Tatum Basin being the New Mexico side.  I also worked the western extension of the Matador arch.  I got to work with not only structural problems, but pinch outs as well.  My favorite terms are the “Elida Highs” and the “Insipient Ensleberg”.  I like that.  That’s a case, too, where one of the things I’d like to stand up and scream out to managers is “What do you think a structure map is?”  30 years ago, 40 years ago, and even today everybody has to have a structure map.  There have been so many periods of structure movement since deposition and I want to say, “What does a structure map tell you?”  All it is is a topographic map of what the surface looks like today.  That’s all it is.  Is it important? There are structural plays so yes, it is important.  But, there are a lot of plays where structure on the top of a zone doesn't tell you squat.  That was kind of the case working the Devonian up on the Roosevelt Positive; the western extension of the Matador Arch.  We ran two seismic likes up there and there is a 1500’ fault as you come up out of the Arch and up onto the Roosevelt Positive.  It basically has three brothers just under the Wolfcamp where on old logs looks like three fingers.  Very identifiable.  We ran a couple of seismic lines; one from north to south and one from south to north.  On one of them when they did the processing and migration on it, the ringing in the granite lined up with the reflectors in the sedimentary section and you couldn't see the fault.  In the other direction, the fault was “Boom” right there.  It was an interesting enigma.  There were very few sonic logs out there (at that time).  What we did was find a deep well close to the line that we had and I took the sonic logs we had and I cut out sections equivalent to the sections that we had and made what I called the “Psudo Sonic Log” and digitized that.  It worked out really pretty well.  Like I said, that was back in the days where everything was typed into the cards.  It took forever.  But, it was a very interesting project.  

JL: If you don’t mind, how long were you with City?

SMR: 5 and a half.

JL: Where did you go from there?

SMR: Harvey E. Yates Company (HEYCO).  From what I was mentioning earlier, I did all of this work on the cross sections to figure out what, when, where, and why the Devonian Play was and the actual Paleo Crest which was where you wanted to be on the Devonian was on the third block fault down.  I spent two hours going through everything I got and at the end the manager said, “Well that’s all good, but we need to move the location two miles up here to the structure high”.  Well, evidently, when I get mad my ears turn red.  My boss looked at me and said, “Why don’t you go downstairs?”  I was livid.  I got moved over to Coke County.  They moved locations and they drilled themselves a nice granite well.  Another company went and drilled my proposed location and got a Devonian discovery. 

(**groan** … from me)

SMR: I spent the next 15 months looking at southern Nolan and Coke and northern Tom Green.  There’s some super exciting things over there.  There’s a great submarine canyon that goes right through the center of one of the fields.  On the carbonate shelf edge, there’s a beautiful surge channel.

JL: You know there are people who are going to call trying to get info from you.

SMR: I’ll tell them that it was thirty years ago.  Over on the east side of the Midland Basin, there’s a spot where you can see the sands coming off the shelf and the long shore current taking them to the south.  There is just so much over there on the Eastern Shelf.  I said you could make a living forever just in those three counties.  The sad thing about computers today is that the kids don’t understand that there’s other maps besides a structure map and an isomap and if you let the computer make an isopach map then I’m sorry but you’re an over paid geotech.  If you want to write me and tell me how ugly I am, go for it.


SMR: Computers can do structure maps, but they don’t have a brain.  A computer can’t tell the difference between an offshore sand bar and an algal mound.  It just can’t tell the difference.  If you don’t understand the model you’re working then you’re probably in the wrong field.  You've got to understand the structure and the area that you’re working and the structural history and you've got to understand the depositional environment of each and every zone.  If all you’re doing is working on the Morrow and you’re not looking at anything else then you’re missing how the Morrow was laid down and why as well as the faulting that occurred as well as since then.  If you’re only working the Strawn and you’re not looking at the Atoka base and you don’t understand the depositional models then you’re going to drill you some good dry holes.  I've seen them.  There are ways to map on the Eastern Shelf to find additional reefs.  I spent the time needed to gather the information to make those maps.  Like me spending 15 months to make those maps and then being moved.  I was like, “What are you doing!?” and was told that you have starters in this business and you have finishers.  There are very few people who can start a project but there are lots of people who can finish a project.  I was told, “We appreciate you starting this project.”

JL:  That’s not frustrating at all.

SMR:  (**nodding**) They moved me and put two geologists on what I had spent all that time working on.  You just lose all of the knowledge gained.  I could show you the Stripe Valley Sands and the surge channel and submarine canyon.  I figured out a way to map where there might be potential carbonate mounds.  People have a tendency, if they are looking at the Strawn, to forget about the Cisco and the Canyon that’s on top of it.  There’s just so much to do.  Anyway, because I was candid and outspoken I got to work the Western Edge.  I think what they wanted to do was see if I could come up with a strategy to do that and I actually did.  I came up with a strategy and trained geologists.  I had one week of experience on a drilling rig and I had the most experience.  Yes, I was the very first woman … let me back up a moment … as a summer hand, I had a friend … let me back up even further … City Service, like most oil and gas companies in the early seventies, were not allowing women on rigs.  I didn't know that.  I’m from a little town.  I was never really told what women could or couldn't do other than my dad telling me that the only thing women could do was teach.  So, fast forward, there was a gal working there who was a district geologist and she had not been allowed on drilling rigs.  Well, I was a summer hand and there was another fella there who was a summer hand for another company and his boss said if you want to see one of the best gas drill stem test you’ll ever see be at such and such location at such and such time.  He asked, “Can I bring a friend?”  The boss said, “Yes”, and I was the friend.  Well, I am very fair skinned.  I don’t tan.  I turn red.  I was excited.  I was going to be on a drilling rig.  It flowed, the flow line froze, caught the prairie on fire … it was exciting!  Well, I go in Monday and I was bright red as a lobster and the boss kind of looks at me over his glasses and goes, “Hmm … What did you do this weekend?”  I got excited, “I got to go out on a well and it flowed this much and caught fire..” and went on.  He just looked at me and said, “Really”.  I later found out that he went right upstairs and told the bosses that their female summer intern got to go on a competitor’s drilling rig and see a gas stem test.  The female district geologist, within 30 minutes, got to get some gear and head out on a rig.  I’ve been known to cause some thing to happen like that.  When I was on the Four Corners on a rig up there, I was evidently the first female geologist to go on a rig up there.  Within 6 hours, everyone knew there was a woman on a rig.  It was kind of like mines, if a woman was on a rig then it was supposed to be a bad omen.  Another thing young geologists need to understand is that our job as geologists is to find enough oil to replace that which is produced every year plus increase the average production.  Don’t think this will last forever.

JL: You bring up and interesting point.  Do you see this boom lasting a while?

SMR:  What is different now is the horizontal drilling.  The existing downstream infrastructure, which most geologists don’t think about, hasn't changed.  Refineries can only produce so much.  They don’t have enough drivers or tank trucks to even pick up the oil.  One company in New Mexico just bought a dozen trucks themselves and hired their own truck drivers to get their oil hauled off their leases.  Oil pipelines are pretty much full and I’m told the tank farm out here is pretty much full.  There’s supposed to be one pipeline up here by this fall that will ease that but right now operators are taking about a $14/barrel hit just to get their oil picked up.  This means that if the posted price is $90 per barrel, operators are only getting $76 per barrel.  Now comes in the economics.  There hasn't been a new refiners built since ’72. Environmentalists aren't going to let you build a refinery.  So, you have a capacity problem.  There may reach a point where you don’t have any place to take your oil.  I’m a geologist and not a economist and I’m kind of afraid that if oil drops down below $75 you’re going to see a whole lot of horizontals shut down.  Gas may come up.  Gas needs to be at $6-$7, I’m told, to make it cost effective to drill gas wells.  Still, geologists need to find oil.  If dry holes don’t bother you, you’re in the wrong field.  You’re asking an engineer to take your word that there is oil here and several million dollars are spent on your word.  If you’re wrong, they are out millions dollars on a vertical well.  You won’t be working very long.  An engineer and I found a company to drill based on my findings, but the engineer paid for a science well.  He spent a lot of money on logs trying to get as much information as possible.  If I would have been wrong and the wells didn't pay out in 10-12 months, I would have caused him to go broke.  It was either a bust or a plus.  Turned out to be a plus.  I've been blessed from the work at HEYCO to go independent in 1989 at one of the worst times and the Heavenly Father blessed me with enough consulting through my career to keep the bills paid.  I was able to put together enough prospects that each one was successful and made the engineer some money.  But that’s what I stress to interns, that’s your job.  That company doesn't grow and the bills don’t get paid and employees don’t get paid if you don’t replace those reserves plus increase them.  When you work for a big company, you’re insulated from that.  When you work for a small company it becomes real “in your face”.  One of the first things I learned when I worked for City Service is that we had to double the reserves you thought you were going to get because the engineers were going to cut them in half. 

JL: I know you have done this for a long time, but do you think there are still new discoveries out there?

SMR:   Oh, it’s vast out there.  So much to do and so little time.  If you love the geology, I liken it to not only finding the needle in the haystack but the reservoir is like threading the needle.  Once you have made a new field discovery, you want to keep making them.  You want to find that reservoir that others don’t know about.  It’s like playing “Hide and seek”.  “CSI Geology”.  I was blessed to get in on the discovery and development of the initial Bone Spring carbonate production and kick off of the Bone Spring sand production when I worked for HEYCO (Harvey E. Yates Co) in the ‘80’s.  Because of log analysis classes taken in the CS training program, I recommended perforating the 2nd Bone spring sand in a well in 1984 – the well flowed 140 BOPD.  That well allowed us (HEYCO) to do a lot more exploration for more carbonate reservoirs because now we had potential sand reservoirs in each well also..  Because of a carbonate field course I had taken in the CS training  program, I had a plausible idea for the depositional environment of the Bone Spring that wound up being and changing the way operators viewed the Bone Spring.  At one point, we drilled 66 of 68 successful wells – THAT is amazing by any account.  This allowed us at HEYCO to keep everyone’s jobs through the toughest times of the downturn in the mid to late ‘80’s.  Although I was not allowed to publish any data, Ted Galowski, then with Mitchell, did publish a paper that, for the most part, was pretty good.  I think it is still considered one of the best papers on the Bone Spring.  To look back and think that one recommendation to perf the 2nd B Sp Sand, that engineering actually decided to do prior to plugging a well, turned things around and, now, with horizontal drilling and slick water frac’s, has caused what some call a “rebirth” of the Delaware Basin portion of the Permian Basin, is something even I am in awe of.  The Heavenly Father truly blesses those who try to live their lives for Him. Secondly, an Engineer I have worked with for over 20 years, was able to put together a large acreage block on a prospect we had been working on for approx. 19 yrs. (we got the 1st lease some 18 yrs ago).  Recently we had a significant new field discovery and are very excited.  We have multiple reservoirs to further evaluate and are super excited about the potential of several of these.  One has the potential to be very significant.  Talk to me in a couple years.  Another highlight of my career was mentoring a young Geologist who now works for Concho – Sergio Ojeda.  What an amazing and fulfilling few years!  Even more fulfilling is to watch him drill successful wells at his young age.  I've been associated with 2 dry wells in my time and they both about killed me.  I was like, “What went wrong?”  On one of them it was like a wildcat and it drilled out like we mapped it.  What a geologist cannot determine necessarily is if it’ll be pickle juice.  We got salt water.  There was an argument among the field people.  The well was TDed 100’ shy of our planned TD.  I let my superiors know they made the decision.  A number of years later on a farm out another company drilled out the other 100’ and found the sands we were looking for.  It was there.  Things like that bother you.  When you drill a plain dry hole it’s got to bother you.  I always say, “What did I do wrong?”  I use a 20’ contour interval and believe that if I can’t be closer than that 20’ contour interval then I did something wrong.  If I pick my tops, I want to be within 5’.  If I had one thing to say to young geologists, it would be to know and understand your logs.     

JL: Agreed.  Any other observations on what’s to come in the oil and gas field?

SMR: Watch out for the environmentalists trying to shut down the Oil Industry by using the Endangered Species act and scare tactics about fresh water contamination.  HOWEVER, that aside, there are so many potential reservoirs still to be tested based on shows in older wells, based on advances in completion technology, exploration for reservoirs heretofore ignored.  There is so much left to do – and so little time!

JL: What are some of the main differences between today’s professionals and the prior generations?  Is this good, bad, both?   

SMR: It is both bad, bad, Leroy bad, and good.  The main difference I see is the use of computers.  They really started coming into their own in the 1980’s with the advent of personal computers and, later, with networking capabilities and the Internet.  The first mapping programs came out around 1984.  The best one was a DOS based program that, unfortunately was never converted to MS Windows.  It had an internal database that allowed you to enter data sheet tops, porosities, perms, 150 pieces of information per well.  It used USGS squares so could be used in SENM w/out lots of problems or a land map.  You could also import a land grid to use if you wanted.  You could use footage locations, not XY or Lat Long coordinates.  Neither Lat- Longs nor API numbers were readily available in the ‘80’s and 90’s.  All programs can produce good structure maps – whoopee!  But even today, none of the programs can accurately make Isopach maps, Isolith maps, Relative Net Perm maps, etc.  These maps depend on the depositional model you are using.  These maps are produced using one’s intellectual understanding of the formation (s) you are working with.  None of them deal accurately with faults, some high angle normal (extensional) movement, some high angle reverse thrust (compressional) movement, some with lateral movement (strike-slip).  If all you do is allow the computer to do the mapping, a good Geo-Tech can do that, the company doesn't need a high paid Geologist for that.  You cannot do really detailed multi-well correlations on the computer.  I know they say you can but, trust me, they know not what they say.  Additionally, with modern technology, the geologists really never have to leave their offices to get data from the well site.  It is important for geologists to be out on location, to understand what goes on, how wells are drilled, what the abbreviations on the mud logs mean, how to look at samples and understand what the different types of shows are and what they mean.  How a well is drilled, the type of fluid used, has everything to do with shows and with how the electric logs are affected.  Most young Geologists have NO clue.

JL:   If you could pass something along to the new generation of professionals, what would you like them to know? 

SMR: Your work and your word are all you have, your reputation.  Guard them wisely.  Ethics, Ethics, Ethics.  You can get sucked in far more quickly and easily than you can get out.

JL: Any cool stories you could share? 

SMR: Several.  Somebody chased me out to a rig one night.

JL: Why? What happened there? 

SMR: I have no idea.  It was 11 at night.  This car was going 20 miles an hour on this road.  I came up on this 60 MPH road and they were in this dip and I didn't see them.  I whipped around them and they chased me all the way to the rig.  I pulled around to the back side and they pulled up to the dog house stairs.  I went up the backside.  All the hands knew me because I spent 60 out of 75 days on that well.  All I had to do was tell those guys that they chased me and it would have been ugly.  I didn't.  I didn't want there to be a problem.  I just stood there.  It was scary.  Another story was when I was with City Service, this guy, a landman, came out and told us that this rancher really wanted our company to lease his land.  It was out of NW Arizona.  They came to me and asked me what I thought and at that time they hadn't completed the topographic map of that part of Arizona.  I said that the only way we can evaluate it is to go out on the ground.  I figured that would kill it as there was no way they would send us out there.  The landman kept coming back and asking questions like what sort of techniques would we be using to evaluate this.  He wrote us letters and fortunately I was smart enough to keep copies.  Well, we ended up meeting this rancher in the Flagstaff.  We had a late dinner.  He brought his sons which I could tell was strange as they could go bear hunting with a switch.  They weren't little.  They were making all these snide remarks about these big oil companies who thought they could do all these things and I kept thinking “Something’s not right”.  I was sitting next to the attorney who was a gentleman of gentlemen in every sense of the word.  Part way through the dinner I leaned over and said, “I need to talk to you after everything has broken up.”  He said, “OK.”  I kept listening to these comments.  Well, when he and I got together, what had happened was this guy (the landman) had come to us wanting us to lease the rancher’s land (202 sections) and was telling the rancher that we really wanted to lease his land.  He was playing both ends against the middle.  Every time we wrote a letter, the landman wouldn't pass the letter along.  He was telling the rancher stories about us that we had equipment to test the land.  I showed the lawyer the copies of the letters and the lawyer said, “I understand.”  Well the next morning the rancher was much nicer and offered to take us to his property in his private jet by way of the Grand Canyon.  What geologist wouldn't jump at the chance?  He told his boys to drive with the intermediary to the property.  I’m sure it wasn't a pleasant ride.  The plane ride was awesome, though!   I could go on, but if you’re bitten by the bug it isn't about the amount of money you make; it’s about the chase.

We visited at great lengths and Ms. Meador-Roberts shared a great many views. In fact, I'm considering posting her and other interviews on an audio site.  Ms. Meador-Roberts shared a lot of insight that is hard to put into text and her words do her own justice where my text fails.  Still, I gained much insight and definitely could appreciate the challenges she faced.

Thank you so much for taking time to read this interview.  As always, feedback is encouraged in form of a comment or email.  Also, if you have any questions for Ms. Meador-Roberts, you can email her at smrrocks@sonshineexploration.com.  Be warned, if you're going to try to get secret info out of her she is pretty cagey!  

Take care and I hope to see you on the oil patch!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

TOPP Interview: David Cromwell, Incoming President of the WTGS and Geologist for BC Operating

Hello guys and gals.  This is Jay Leeper with The Oil Patch Post.  I have as my guest for today Mr. David Cromwell, Geologist with BC Operating and Incoming President of the West Texas Geological Society.  Mr. Cromwell has been a geologist in the west Texas area for close to 40 years and was nice enough to sit down with me to offer some insight in the Oil & Gas Field.  I knew his schedule was very busy and was appreciative that he took time to visit with me late into the day.  I also appreciate that he took an educational perspective to his approach of the business.  It appealed to the Educator in me and resonated the value of a person taking initiative to seek self improvement.

I hope you enjoy the interview.

JL:  Dave, would you like to say “Hi” to everybody?

DC: (With a wave) Hi!

JL: As we get started, would you mind telling everybody a little about yourself and maybe some of what you've done in the field?

DC:  This is Dave Cromwell.  I got my undergraduate from the University of California in 1969.  Spent 3 years in the Army.  Got out and went to graduate school in Oklahoma.  After 2 years, I got my masters and started in 1974 with AMOCO in Houston.  I started working the Permian Basin with AMOCO then started working the Permian Basin for the next 40 years.  I came to Midland in 1976 with Bass Enterprises and Production Company.  I've worked with several companies and have been laid off twice in my career.  Some of those times were pretty long in between jobs but always worked my way back in.  Always been in the business.  I've been on the fringes sometimes doing mud logging, chasing core, whatever I could to keep active out here.  I’ve seen several cycles come and go.  I’ve enjoyed it.  This is a great time for the oil industry and a great time to be involved. 

JL: Very cool.  I know you’ve been in the industry for a long time.  What characteristics do you believe helps make a geologist successful in this industry?

DC: Well, basically ,Jay, I consider 4 criteria to be a good geologist.  The first is a good technical, sound background in the science.  The second is a personality that is optimistic.  Thirdly, a personality that is creative.  Fourthly, you have to have a little luck.  Those first three criteria kind of define who you are and how you go about this business.  Staying technical is very critical.  As I’ve gotten along in my experience the terminology has changed, new ideas have come and gone, the science has improved considerably but if you don’t stay technical you’ll find yourself in a lot of hot water.  I don’t mean technical by becoming savvy with just the computer.  I’m talking about in the science itself.  One of the main venues to keep you technical is to join the societies that are available to us.  For us, that’s the West Texas Geological Society (WTGS) and the Permian Basin Section of the SEPM that are both local here.  Also, to be involved in the regional as well as the South West Section of the AAPG and even going to the national meetings every once in a while.  The basics for us in a provincial sense are the local societies that offer continuing education, field trips, and a monthly meeting.  All are good in keeping our minds active in what’s going on in the Permian Basin. 

JL: Didn’t you just get back from the Nationals?

DC: I just got back from Pittsburg this week.  A lot of the talks there were centered on shale.  I enjoyed it although the talks were somewhat regionalized.  Marcelles.  Bakkin.  There were some good posters and information on the Permian Basin.  It was good to visit with those people.  Like I’ve often said, you know, I’ll often go to Pittsburg or Houston to meet people from Midland.  It’s always good to meet old friends and visit with new ones.  I met with a friend of mine that I worked with at Energen and had lunch together.  That’s just an example of keeping up with people as well as keeping abreast of the technical side of things which is important.  I think things have changed for the geologist since I started working nearly 40 years ago.  For one thing communication has been very much to the betterment of the geologist and what’s happening on-site.  With the satellite radios and telephones today communication is just wonderful.  You get to take a look at the mud logs in almost real time whereas before that you were lucky if you got to see a mud log once a week because of snail mail.  As a mud logger, I had to go into town and fax at the local truck stop twenty years ago.  Before that even talking to the rig was nearly impossible with the dead areas going on.  Then they came out with the special phones and then bag phones so there’s been a progression that’s improved dramatically your ability to find out what’s going on out on the rig.  Now, computers have played an important part in the improvement of the geologist because you have so much data that’s being entered into the computer whether it be well logs or mud logs or scout ticket data that’s accessible at your fingertips as well as the services that you can subscribe to to get that data that helps you to do your job.  You can use the data to generate structure maps, isopack maps, or whatever in between maps you’re interested in.  I think, that being said, I don’t think there is any substitute for a geologist contouring his own map and adding the geological bias he feels is prevelant in that particular area and what’s going on.  To me, a computer map is a regional generated map that can help you in a broad sense but the nuts and the bolts of everything are depending on you as the geologist to make your interpretation to contour your map accordingly.  So, those two things have dramatically have improved the ways us geologists have moved forward in the almost 40 years I have been involved in the business.  I feel very fortunate that I have been around to experience that. 

JL:  What are some of the differences you have seen between the generations of oil professionals?

DC: Well, I mentioned that computers have changed the way we do the business, and to a certain extent I feel the young professionals rely on the computer too much.  They’ll get the data output from the computer and think it is the gospel so to speak.  Basically, you have to remember that the computer is only as good as the data that was put into it.  If you get bogus data in then you’re going to get misinterpretation of the information.  I think it’s incumbent of the younger geologist to take a second look at  the data that’s generated and verify that data by hand checking their wells to see if they agree and also to double check some of the surrounding wells.  Correlations are very complicated especially in a stratographic basin where the lithologies are changing between the limes and shales and sands so that it makes correlating difficult.  There are some good services that have done a admirable job to make correlations reasonable but I think it’s incumbent on the geologist to A) double check their work especially after an initial map has been generated so that they understand what the data represents and like I mentioned earlier B) go in and fine tune the map into a smaller area so that you contour it yourself adding your bias and interpretations.  If you’re correlating deep water sands perpendicular to the strike line and you know your sands are meandering into the basin so that you need to understand that near shore parallax systems where the sand lines are parallel to the strike line.  There’s a big 90 degree difference on how that sand body can be interpreted.  If you understand the nature of the sands for example is the Turberdite then it’s going to flow into the basin, bifurcate as it gets into the basin further down slope and where you are losing your differential energy and it helps you to understand that you need a bias on the isopack maps to reflect your interpretation.  A computer may or may not do that.  Some programs can add a little bit of bias to it but can’t substitute what you think it should be and how you think those contours ought to go. 

JL: So how is a new professional to get better at what they do?

DC: Well, like I mentioned, they need to get current on the new technologies coming out and they also need to understand other disciplines as well.  Everyone is talking about the team concept now where you’re working with land men and engineers, geophysists, as well as management to get your point across.  I think it’s important for a geologist to be in communication and understand the other disciplines that others have that compose your team.  Not necessarily to know their details but to have a general understanding of what everyone can bring to the table.  It’s also important to remember that the whole business is price driven.  Unfortunately we don’t control the price.  So you’re in a situation where you’re in a reactionary mode.  Like I said, I’ve been laid off twice in my career; both times after a bust.  I think the current status here is that things are going good and personally I feel that the Wolfberry Play, for example, is a valid play that has a lot of technical merit to it.  You’ll see it move forward.  I also think that if you see oil get below $70 a barrel and it stays below that where the hedges start wearing off companies will start moving their hedges around I think you’re going to find things will slow down here considerably.  That’s just my personal opinion on the Wolfberry.  I think it’s more price sensitive that say the Wolfbone, Bonespring, or Wolfcamp formation play that you have going on in the Delaware.  I think it’s a little more economic than the Wolfberry play.  But when you’re spending $8-$10 million for a lateral well it takes a lot of reserves to recover that and so reserves are dollars and dollars are what drives the business.  I think this play is going to go on for quite a while.  This is kind of a different play because everyone is using the term “resource” play.  What does “resource” mean?  Does that “resource” mean provincial everywhere? No.  There are going to be sweet spots in every resource play.  This is Mother Nature you’re dealing with.  Lithologies change, the Earth is a dynamic system.  I was taught that 3 things define a reservoir and that’s source, seal, and trap.  Right now with a resource play, your source is your reservoir.  You got rock that you’re looking at that’s very low in porosity and permeability that you’re trying to get the oil out of.  With the new techniques like horizontal drilling and high horsepower, high volume frack jobs are able to access the nano-pores (if you will) to recover quite a bit of the oil in place.  From a Permian Basin perspective, I think the economy is here to stay for quite a while.  It’s encouraging to see the US become less dependent on the foreign oil reversing the depletion trend that has been going on up until the last 4-5 years.  Since I’ve been involved in the business, we are just now seeing resource plays contributing to the trends. 

As the evening wore down I could see the enthusiasm and passion that seem to be a common factor for those who seem to be successful in this line of work and showed no signs of dimming even as the time passed.  You could tell that Dave loves what he does and still has a lot to offer.  Part of me wondered if this is what the young professional could take; to love the work and not be in it for the pay.  I keep liking a geologists job to that of a detective in a novel.  How do you take the information you have and find something you can’t see in a place you can never go?  It’s amazing to the layman.

Thank you for taking time to read my little blog.  If you would like to contact David Cromwell, his email is DCromwell@BCOperating.com.  He would be glad to answer any questions and clarify.  I consider him an excellent resource for people to reach out to if you have questions or want advice.

Take care, all, and I hope to see you somewhere on The Oil Patch!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

TOPP Interview: Ted Gawloski, Chief Geologist for Resolute Energy

Many thanks in advance for checking out this little blog.  It never ceases to amaze me at the reception and feedback I have received in getting this endeavor off the ground.  One example is one of the officers of the West Texas Geological Society, Geophysicist for Concho Resources Sergio Ojeda.  He was one of the folks encouraging the need for The Oil Patch Post and even recommended me speaking to a great guy, expert exploration geologist and one of Sergio’s former mentors who is this post’s guest; Mr. Ted Gawloski, Chief Geologist for the Permian Basin branch of Resolute Energy.

I recently had the privilege of meeting Mr. Gawloski at his office where he took time out of his busy schedule to visit with me about the focus of this blog.  He definitely struck me as a kind person, but there was no mistaking his passion and confidence as we spoke.  I found myself drawn into the interview where I took a lot out of his words.  As a fellow academic, Ted is credited with writing one of the only papers on The Bone Spring Fields and the Morrow Sands Fields.  Last September, Ted was a guest speaker at the WTGS Symposium where he spoke about the Abo Play in New Mexico and the possible implications of it extending into Texas.  Even before the interview started, Ted definitely had a clear view on what he hoped to pass on to the newer oil professionals.  At times, I found my own perceptions challenged by Ted’s views; however, I am forced to admit that Ted’s points are valid and in the end revealed to me ways I can improve my understanding of the oil and gas landscapes.
I hope that you can get as much out of this interview as I did.


JL:  Hello ladies and gentlemen.  This is Jay Leeper with The Oil Patch Post.  I have the privilege of speaking today with Mr. Ted Gawloski, Chief Geologist for the Permian Basin with Resolute Energy and author of papers for the Bone Spring and Marrow Sands Fields.  Mr. Gawloski has agreed to talk with me and now is as good a time as any to begin with the questions.

TG:  Sure.

JL:  First off, did I get the official title correct?

TG: That is correct.

JL: Great!  When did you first get into the field?

TG: Back in 1981.  I started out working for Amoco down in Houston but I was working the Permian Basin.  I’ve actually worked the Permian Basin since 1981. 

JL: Good Lord.

TG: (nods) A long time. 

JL: Job experiences?  I mean, since 1981 that’s been 32-33 years?

TG: About 33 years.  Quite a bit.

JL:  What companies have you worked with?

TG:  I guess I started out with Amoco like a lot of people.  They were really good about training people.  I got in with the guy making all the field trips so I got to go when people couldn't go.  I spent a lot of time out there in the field and in school and stuff.  It was a great learning experience.  The Majors trained half the people in this town.  They did it knowing that a lot of them would leave.  I left because my wife was actually a geologist working for Exxon at the same time but she got a job out here so we moved to Midland in 1984.  I got a job with Mitchell Energy at that point at a time when it was actually pretty hard to get a job. 

JL: No joke.

TG: It was right then that things were starting to fall apart (for the O&G business).  I managed to hang in there.  We did a lot of good things over at Mitchell Energy.  We built this district up buying lease holds into sales and working up prospects.  We made it work for 10 solid years until they had a downturn and ended up shutting the office down.   It was one of those things.  Now, I already had another job lined up and was ready to go.  I used it as a step-up point to work for another company here in town, Concho, which people really know is a great success story for this community here.  I was one of the 20 people who started Concho 3 and now they have over 800 people working for them.  They have one of the largest daily production of any company working here in the Permian Basin and they are headquartered here.  That was a really neat company to work for.  I was with them for 5-6 years.  I then came over to work for Apache for a little while.  However, I really felt like I needed to get back into … well I had an opportunity to start an office (Resolute Energy) and grow it and I always wanted to do that.  For someone my age to take a leap like that and do that was a little difficult to do but I’m glad I did it.  I’m here at the beginning and helping them start something in town and I told them this was the way you had to do business here in town.  If you were going to do business here in the Permian Basins then you had to come here and build here. 

JL: Resolute is headquartered in Denver, right?

TG: Right.  We had 3 people in the office last summer and now we have over 35.  We closed on a deal and things are starting to take off.  Business is pretty tough around here.  It’s a pretty competitive business. 

JL: Agreed.  I can definitely relate.  If you don’t mind, I know you have been doing this a long time and accomplished many things but what do you still hope to accomplish and achieve in your career?

TG:  I’m still trying to find that one elusive thing nobody else has found yet.  The way the Basin has been developed that is a really difficult thing to do because almost every section has some potential.  The key is lease hold.  That’s the hardest part to do right now because the oil is out there and extracting it is a little difficult to do but you have to have acreage to even get started.  Every day there are people coming in here with a fist full of money, and investor, and it’s amazing.  This town has changed dramatically in such a short time. 

JL: True.  If you don’t mind, being that you have been here so long and involved in the business, what changes do you see still to come in the oil and gas business; especially in the Permian Basin?

TG: With the Permian Basin, I call it a Renaissance going on right now.  It’s not just a change.  It’s flipped the whole thing around.  It’s going to last for as long as we can produce the oil.  There are so many locations and so many different zones stacked one on top of the other.  It’s going to take years to develop it even with all these people coming in.  It’s amazing what is now productive with the technology.  It makes it really interesting trying to map something like this as opposed to the conventional reservoir we have always been mapping and it takes a little different look at it.  You have to look at it completely different.  With the conventional stuff, you look at a log and find a pay zone and you go and map it.  Here you go and use all these different parameters and stuff.  You have to do a lot of work and the economics have to be always in balance.  It’s fun to see.  It’s amazing.  Just when you think the dog’s down getting kicked it just gets right back up and starts barking.  You get after it.  It’s fun. 

JL: I remember before we started recording this interview you made mention about having the passion for doing what you’re doing; especially for as long as you’ve been doing it.  Regarding the newer professionals, what are some of the differences you note between today’s professionals and the professionals from your generation?

TG: There’s a big difference.  A lot of the differences come from the advent of the computer age.  Of the geologists today, there are only a few who still do this (how he does exploration geology).  To actually go out to the field and actually look at the samples and the rocks … you cannot understand what’s going on unless you actually go out there.  I cannot tell you how many times I have gone out there and every time I do I learn something new.  I was fortunate to have loggers that I knew that were actually geologists that knew more about the wells than I did.  They were amazing.  They weren’t just someone that wrote down a few simple, little words.  They detailed a section.  I learned a lot from those guys.  I appreciated what they did.  You just can’t beat going out there looking at samples.  You can see it on a log and say this is what it is but you don’t know what the show looks like or the intricacies of what it looks like.  There is a zone out there in New Mexico, the Delaware Sands, it’s so fine grained and well rounded that half the time in the show the samples float and go away.  If you don’t stir it up or look at it carefully or quick enough you won’t know you were in a zone and you went right by it.  It’s little things like that that you learn what’s going on.  There was no bigger rush what when you heard a drilling brake squeaking in the middle of the night.  You’re waiting on a pay zone and you pop up waiting for that sample pacing the trailer waiting for that sample to come up.  And if you hit it right you just felt so good!  You actually see the rock coming up from 13,000’.  It’s something you can’t get off the computer.  I realize that you can’t do it as easily and people are really busy but there are still a few people who do it.  A guy I helped mentor, he’s a young guy, and he went out into the field and learned.  He knew the importance of it.  You can tell that he has a drive for it.  And the same thing for the electric logs.  You can get them over here (in the office) but you don’t really know what’s going on.  There are a lot of things that go on out in the field that you don’t know. 

JL: You mentioned the Bone Spring earlier.  You did a paper on that area, right?

TG: One of the few comprehensive papers. 

JL: Can you talk to me a little bit about that?

TG: It was something I did a while back with Mitchell Energy back when things got slow.  Someone came to me and asked me if I wanted to do a paper on it.  At the time it was pretty competitive and no one else was really doing it.  When I was at Amoco, we developed some of the Bone Spring Fields and I knew they (Amoco) had some core.  I got permission from them to look at the core even though nobody else would release anything.  They were really good about that and they shipped the core out to my office on pallets and said all they wanted was a copy of the paper.  I had enough to do the paper with and I made sure I did it right.  It took a long time to do it but Mitchell Energy gave me the time to do it.  It’s really important to do something like this every now and again.  I've also given a few talks on it at the symposium over here (WTGS Symposium) in town and they were so well received because they were pertinent talks dealing with everyday things instead of having some person go up there peddling something which is about 80% of the talks.  This was a talk about a prospect and how it was developed, how it was done, and the mapping as well as being successful which is always a good thing. 


TG: And I did another thing like it in a packed room.  I was a nervous wreck.  There were all these people there who just wanted to see something practical.  I tried to get some of my peers to do this but it is really difficult to get people to do this.  To put the time in to do it right.  I enjoyed it even though it was really hard to do.  I did another one and it was the same way.  It was something challenging and I always like to challenge myself.  To get it done was really good. 

JL: Is this something you would recommend today’s professional to take on?

TG: Absolutely.  And I encourage management from the companies to allow this.  If it’s not competitive let them talk about it.  Give them the chance to do it and they will be great at it. 

JL: I had always heard that the best way to learn something better was to teach it. 

TG: Absolutely. 

JL: Awesome!  OK, if you could pass something along to the newer generation of oil professionals, what would it be?

TG: One thing I see that’s being overlooked is that they rely on a computer too much.  This is especially true when it comes to mapping.  I never had a prospect that I turned in with a computer map except for regional purposes because it cannot take what is in the mind. You have to know what the definition of a system is in order to map it correctly.  You cannot let the computer do it because it has no idea what it is.  I always took the time to make my own maps.  They would get digitized and put into the computer but it was not computer generated.  As a matter of fact, I send a map up to my own company in Denver the guy was like, “I hadn't seen a map like this in a year!”  I said, “Boys, you’d better get use to it because that’s the way it’s going to be done!”  You have to have the interpretation with the map or else it’s just a map.  I already see too much of that.  And the other thing like I was talking about is to just go out and look at the rock.  See what’s going on around the rig.  See what a rig does.  What the people are doing out there.  The descriptions, shades of colors.  Learn this.  How does the equipment work?  What happens when you get gas up in the flare?  You know, that kind of thing.  Today’s new geologists are missing that.  There are some special young kids that are doing that.  A friend of mine yesterday, he’s a manager, told me he sent a kid out there and he’s been out there 19 days.  The kid is just loving it.  That’s the type of enthusiasm that you really want to see.  It’s rare, but you always want to get the right person.  This is what I’m seeing that’s missing and it’s sad because the opportunity is there.  Just look around this town.  You can almost walk out your door and there is a rig out there. 

JL: Very cool  A lot of good information here.  Are there any stories you can share with us that you’ve experienced over time?

TG:  Oh yeah.  There is a lot!  Some scary things and some fun things.  I remember I was out with my mudlogger and we were out having coffee and we were just above our pay zone.  We walked out the door and heard this little bleep of a squeak and they tripped the hole.  We both kind of looked at each other and agreed that there was something weird about that.  They started coming out the hole and swabbed in the hole.  Well we had cut into the top few inches of this gas sand and they didn't know it.  It started coming to see them.  Mud goes everywhere!  They had to light the flare and stuff.  We finally get it under control and drilled the rest of that rock out.  It was the most permeable sand I had ever found in the Permian Basin.  It had 2 darcies of permeability.  It was over pressured.  It’s amazing what you can sense when you’re out there.  I’ve also had many a good driller save my butt like in this other little story I was telling the other day.  They always have the flare line going out facing the north because of the southern winds we mostly get out here.  We were drilling and we had a lot of good gas in the hole.  We might have even been circulating.  Well, a cold front came through.  One of those Blue Northerns and the flare started coming back at us.  The shakers and pits were bubbling with gas.  I didn't know this but they had supercharged those engines.  If there had been a spark ….

JL: Oh my God.

TG: We didn't know this until afterwards which is probably good or I would have fell down on the floor.  The driller got us off just in time.  It’s things like that that can happened by you have to be on the rig floor to see what’s going on.  There’s nothing like the rush of seeing results from something you've been working on for months or years.  To see it come in is an amazing deal. 

As we wrapped up our visit, one the biggest points I got out of this was “Context”.  Ted admits that it is no secret that Technology has and will continue to impact the way geologists do their work; however, despite these advances without actually spending some time out on the rig it is difficult to put the data we see online into proper context.  In doing this, it increases the ability to be more effective in our analysis of the data we look at.  Also, I agreed that it is important to do research to better understand what it is we are studying.  Companies are well served to allow their geologists the time and resources to conduct these studies and where applicable pool resources with other sources.  In doing so, their employees are better prepared for the challenges they face in extracting that precious commodity that drives the success of their (and so many others) business, welfare, and future.

Thank you so much for visiting The Oil Patch Post.  Mr. Gawloski has graciously allowed me to post his email address (TGawloski@ResoluteEnergy.com) if you have any questions on anything he discussed or you can comment below.  For those new to the field, I encourage you to talk to folks like Ted.  They have a lot of information to share and it can only help us in the end. 

BTW,  feedback is always welcomed.  I am always looking for folks to speak with so if you have any recommendations, please let me know.  If you see me, please come up and say “Hey”.  I always love meeting people and exchanging ideas to be better at what we do.

Take care, all!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

TOPP Interview: Mr. Morris Burns, Lobbyist, Business Owner, and Observer

Hi folks!  Welcome to the first interview for the Oil Patch Post!  I hope you enjoy this interview as I had a blast visiting with our guest.

On March 29, I had the pleasure of meeting and talking to Morris Burns.  Mr. Burns .. er .. Morris (He said Mr. Burns is his father. Interesting perception for a guy who said he was in his 80s) is a long-time oil and gas personality here in the Permian Basin.  He has been a Lobbyist, Business Owner, and instructor.  As someone who has been a keen observer of the industry for the last nearly 50 years, he was kind enough to accept my invitation to be the first guest of my little blog.  It is with great pleasure and humility that I present you with excerpts of our conversation.

JL:  This is Jay Leeper with the Oil Patch Post I have with me at this time Mr. Morse Burns.  Mr. Burns is been a regular guest speaker on the KWEL call-in talk show which you can hear on Tuesday mornings.  He also has knowledge of the oil and gas field here in West Texas.  He also has the distinction of being the very first guest of the Oil Patch Post.  Welcome to the show.  Mr. Burns, if you don’t mind, would you please tell us a little about what jobs that you’ve done in the past?  How long have you been involved with the oil and gas field?

MB:  A long time.  (Laughter)  I got involved in the mid to late seventies.  I had some friends who had a company that put together to manufacture and distribute unmanned mud logging systems and they did not promote it.  I win in and started promoting it make a contact for them.  We got the thing going pretty well.  In 1981 there are 4500 rigs running.  People in the field say that we are in a boom now but we had 4500 rigs running and so we aren’t there yet.  I wound up owning the company.  From ‘81 to ‘86 we were in a slow decline and then in January of ‘86 Saudi Arabia open the valves as Saudi Arabia was tired of everyone cheating on their quotas and then they being the swing producer they flooded the market.  I had to take a job and go to work.  I started out with the West Texas Oil & Gas Association in Abilene lobbying.  I was there for 12 years and then I was contacted by the Permian Basin Petroleum Association here.  They entice me to come here to Midland and ‘97 and I ran that until 2006.  I’ve done some other things in the meantime.  I ran the NatCo Training Center doing safety and things like this.  The main thing I do now is Defensive Driving.  Heaven knows we need that.  That is a much harder thing to get certified to teach.  It requires some work.  Things that I was doing with companies they now have their own people to do it.  I now teach it locally for ticket abatement and for insurance purposes.  I do this for the oil companies and for just people who need it.  I’ll be teaching classes in Marfa and Lamesa in the next two weeks. 

JL: Do you ever slow down?

MB: I do not sit and look at walls very well.


JL: What other past jobs have you held?

MB:  Well, like I said, I started a company called FerreTronics.  We found out the name of the company was too esoteric.  Nobody knew what that was.  They didn’t know what a Ferret was.  It was funny because we would sit around try to figure out how to promote it and we would laugh saying if you pass gas we will know it.  Well, like I said, I also ran the West Texas Oil & Gas Association, the NatCO Training Center until NatCO sold that to Cameron.    Defensive Driving is what I do mostly right now.  I do some public relations work with people.  I have one guy I’m working with who is trying to sell gallons of crude oil to research facilities and I’m helping him work out some information on that.  It’s kind of like shooting pool.  It’s been any ball in any pocket.

JL: We were talking earlier about observations of the oil and gas field.  What trends do you see coming?

MB:  Technology now is tremendous.  When we first started out we would rent these on a daily rental fee.  We would take our recorder and measure in 2” increments which would be the same as the geolograph for the geologist to compare our hydrocarbon readings with the drilling breaks in the geolograph.  It was not a chromatograph.  At that time mudloggers would get $500 a day in and we would $100 a day.  We were blowing and going there for awhile.  I went to the world oil show in Dallas in December of ‘81.  That was the absolute peak.

JL: Awesome!  If you don’t mind, what are some of the main differences you see between today’s professionals and the professionals of your day?

MB: The technology advances are tremendous.  When we were logging a well it was logged on site.  And then you took the logs to town and a set them out on the desk and looked at them.  If you were a geologist and wanted to see the information real time you had to sit there on the well.  Now the information is transmitted over the Internet.  When I first started the only field communication was a mobile phone and a mobile operator.  You had repeater towers but they weren’t close enough for continuous information so you had to use an answering service.  Those women in the answering service knew me and knew my habits and better than my wife.  They can find me anywhere and tell me that I got a phone call from so and so.  One Thanksgiving I had everyone gone.  It was just me and I was in the field.  Every time I got back I had a message from the answering service.  Well I was trying to watch the Texas A&M football game and my wife and daughter were visiting her parents in Levelland.  The answering service would call me and said that they hate to keep bothering me on Thanksgiving but I said, “No ma’am.  I’m giving thanks.”  But like I said, the technology has changed and you can get much more comprehensive logs.  It makes things go so much faster now a days.  Water flooding and CO2 flooding have changed the field.  And so has fracking.  It’s funny I hear the news media talking about this new controversial oil drilling technique.  It’s not new.  It’s been in the oil patch since 1947.  It wasn’t controversial for the first 50 years until the green folks found out we were making cracks in the ground.  And it’s not a drilling technique.  It was originally used as a stimulation technique.  Now it’s used as a completion technique.  It’s the only proven way we can get oil and gas out of shale.  These are just some of the changes and I’m sure we’ll see more and more overtime.

JL:  What about the professionals today?  Are they pretty well prepared for the challenges of today?

MB:  Yeah.  You know it was funny and ’79, ‘80 to ‘81 if someone got out of college with an engineering or a geology degree unless they were just the village idiot they would go straight to the oilfield and the village idiots went to work in the railroad commission because the village idiots did know the difference between a pump jack and a railroad track so they went in the railroad commission.  We had to “train” some of these folks.  And we’re getting back to that point.  I spoke to a group from UTPB.  I took them on a tour of the Petroleum Museum and when we wrapped up I asked them if they had any questions.  One kid asked me, “Is this going to last?”  I told him, “Yeah.  You got a job for as long as you want to work.”  With this Cline Shale just barely getting started it is a huge, huge formation.  It’s 100 miles long and 75 miles wide and according to the San Antonio Express News the depth of this formation as 250 to 500 feet.  They said it was like 10 Eagle Fords stacked one on top of each other.  It’s just a huge formation and we’re just getting started. 

JL: WOW!  I have just a few more questions and I got a lot of feedback on this one.  If you could pass something on to today’s professional to better help them, what would it be?

MB: Get in something and stay with it.  Loyalty will not be included in the next printed version of the Oxford dictionary.  There’s no loyalty from employer to employee or from employee to employer.  It’s really sad.  We’ve seen people stay with the company from the time they get hired until they retired.  The company would take care of them.  We used to say that companies would change crude oil suppliers for the difference of a nickel and now we see the same thing with employees.  There is no loyalty from the employer to the employee or up or down.  It’s really a shame.  I really hate that.  Be a valuable person to the company and learn as much as you can.  Greed is a terrible thing.  There is plenty of money to go around.  Get with something you enjoy doing.  I liked going to the field.  There was a driller on one of the rigs and when I would walk up on him he would say “Ohh, no!  Not you again!  I would rather see a rattlesnake come on site than you.” We would banter back and forth.  There was a time I went out on rig and it was covered in ice and it was a clear day and it was just beautiful.  I wish I had a camera.  I know that people say that rigs will scare off the wild animals but there was a time when I went out and I saw a doe and a fawn right by the rig road.  As I got close, she whistled, ran off, and the fawn dropped trying to camouflage itself.  I got as close to it as I was to you (about 4 feet) and it never moved.  And the people out on these rigs they’re wonderful.  Do something that you have fun doing and that you’re good at. 

JL:  Awesome.  One last question.  Do you have any cool stories that you’d like to tell us about?  I’m always looking for cool stories.  Does anything come to mind that you’d like to share with us?

MB:  O goodness.  It was interesting when I was a lobbying.  Working with other people I always got into it with other associations.  We would go to Washington and someone would say, “Hey, let’s take a Charlie Rangel to lunch.”  Charlie Rangel will eat our steak and drink our whisky but he is never ever going to vote for us.  I wanted to talk to people who we could persuade to help us because he is never going to help us and the other associations would still do it.  I wasn’t going to contribute my association’s hard earned money to that.  Any time and every time I went into his office, Lamar Smith would come out and greet us personally.  At that time, they had Midland and Odessa split up into three congressional districts so that we couldn’t get someone from here elected.  They didn’t want someone from Midland or Odessa in Congress making decisions.  In all it’s been very interesting.  I’ve known two presidents on a first name basis and I’ve known six governors on a first name basis.  While I was with the association I really got to meet the movers and shakers.  It was great being a part of that.

Admittedly, there was a lot of other discussion we kicked around that I didn’t get into the interview, but I have to admit that I learned a lot.  As we parted ways, I reflected on how people like Morris have a lot to offer the younger generation of professionals and I have to encourage all of us to take every opportunity to try to sit down with these folks and pick their brains as what they know is relevant to us today.  There is a lot we will lose in the near future as these folks will no longer be accessible and it is up to us to honor their contributions  If you have any questions for Morris, you can put them in the comment sections or email him at morrisburns@sbcglobal.net .  I know he'd be glad to hear from you.  

Thank you for taking some time to read this post.  I hope you have found it worthwhile and not too many typos.  Like any worthwhile endeavor and like the oil field, this will evolve.  Into what, I have no idea but you have an influence.  Any feedback is appreciated and hopefully I’ll be able to see you out and about.

Take care, all!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Welcome to The Oil Patch Post

Hello all.  Welcome to The Oil Patch Post.  It is my hope to be able to (at least monthly) be able to post interviews with experienced people in the Oil and Gas industry.  If I can get anyone to visit with me, I hope to be able to get their take on the Field now and in the near future, see what advice they can offer to the new generation of oil men, and seek out any interesting stories they may wish to share.  While the first set of people I may speak with are people I know, I'd be very interested in hearing recommendations from you regarding people I might try to meet with.  Also, what kind of questions would you like asked?  In the end, this is for us to learn a thing or two.

Thanks for dropping by a spell.  Hopefully, I'll be seeing you out in the patch!