Shale Shaker Vol 70, No 5 September-October

By Thomas E. Cochrane, Geologist Book Summary

An “unexpected” wildcatter reminisces…

I am an old fart, an Oklahoma oil man— now retired and living in Northern Cali- fornia. Imagine the conversations that are sparked hereabouts when I mention I am (or was) an oil and gas geologist. Northern Californians all say they are highly com- mitted to saving the environment and to using “green energy.” After all, I now live in the “Land of the Prius” ― which is rap- idly becoming the “Home of the Tesla.” However, contrast this image with the realities of the daily commute in the San Francisco Bay Area, or the Los Angeles area in Southern California. Our freeways here are clogged with SUVs and oversized V-8 pickup trucks, most occupied by just one lone driver―so much for the environ- ment! A frequent complaint regionally is about our gasoline prices, which are the highest in the country. In spite of advances in alternatives, oil and natural gas will be major fuel sources for a long time into the future. However, that does not mean we should give up on green energy, or that we should not produce ve- hicles or engines which are less polluting.

Amidst changes both politically and tech- nologically, our grandchildren now live in a much different world than we did when their age. Given all these striking shifts, I thought I would like to capture on pa- per some of my yesteryear experiences in the oil and gas business which resulted in the publication of my second book, Tor- nados, Rattlesnakes & Oil, AWildcatter’s memories of Hunting for Black Gold. It begins with my introduction to the oil business as a petroleum geologist for Pan American Petroleum in 1964 in Okla- homa, as well as working in the oil patch later on in Texas too. My story is one of how a rural New York State farm boy, with no links to the oil in- dustry nor education in petroleum geol- ogy, was plunked smack into a major oil company right out of the gate ― I didn’t even speak the oil and gas language or have the proper local accent. As a result, I received quite an education in my early introduction to the oil business: “Ah was told that ah wouldn’t last long here in the oil biz!” I guess I actually took that early remark by a new boss as a personal chal- lenge. I never before expressed the fol-

lowing, but perhaps my philosophy at the time was: “Either join me in the venture, or get out of the way, for I AM coming through!” Pan Am was a good training company in that they encouraged interaction both with others in the firm as well as those work- ing elsewhere in the industry. There was always another company, or even several, involved in the drilling of wildcats espe- cially. Once a project was over, there were plenty of farmouts encouraged. In my time with them, I recommended six wild- cats, a couple of development wells, and many farmouts. The wildcats discovered two significant gas fields. After toiling away for four years, I decided to leave the major companies to others and threw my fortunes in with two other ex-Pan Am geologists, so we three officially part- nered in forming our own company. In the book, I relate a lot of good stories from those years. That was a great time ― boom or bust ― accompanied by a lot of hard drink- ing and hard selling, long hours of research in developing prospects, a few wild women, some successes…and a few dry holes.

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