Shale Shaker Vol 70, No 5 September-October

But by 1972 we had burned out and all decided to go our separate ways. I went on to new ventures, new partners, and new clients in many deals. Looking back, I count 47 partners over the years, most of which were just for a specific deal or two. All were done with a handshake and a one sentence contract. (Talk about a different era!) As the geologic originator of the deals, I wanted to personally do the wellsite work. Often I was able to accomplish that, or I simply showed up on location as the well drilled the expected pay zones. I wanted to see the electric logs or recommend a test before a marginal well was plugged. Those days were well before both the Internet as well as iPhones. We didn’t have the luxury of sitting in our offices and having every- thing instantly printed. Instead, back then, a rig had a radio-telephone to their offices. We might have to drive to the closest town for a land line (what are those?). Electric logs were printed on location and driven to the office to be hand delivered. Deals were made in the local bars and coffee shops, often with a quick scribbled letter of agreement. More than once, we moved a spudder drilling rig onto a prop- erty to save an expiring lease, cutting it close indeed. The deal and partners were then put together in the following days. One deal of mine was drilling at 14,000’ depth and all the contracts had not yet been signed. One client dropped out of the deal. Where to find another participant? I was stuck with a $330,000 interest in the well and had pledged and mortgaged ev- erything that I owned at the time. Yup, you could say it was high $takes! Somehow inside this process, the lust to find oil gets mixed right into your blood. How does this “wildcat bug” happen to a person? (I took a whimsical approach to this question in the chapter which re- counts “my fantasy” of how I became a wildcatter via the urgings of an in-the- know leprechaun!). Some people are just

natural gamblers, but I never thought that described yours truly. In fact, I rarely bet on anything, not even on a Texas/Oklaho- ma University game — too unpredictable! Give me a wildcat based on good geology and I will bet on that though. One of my secrets of success was to al- ways be willing to take a piece of the working interest, so I would roll all of my front-end profit into the well. The cli- ent figured it must be a good one — as he wants part of the action for himself. Over all these years, then and since, I have pro- moted, put together, joined, or invested in over 150 wells. A few of these are still producing, and several are in sections be- ing re-drilled with horizontal drilling and the big fracks. I have also joined in four of these ventures to date. My time working actively in the indus- try was during the 1960s through the 1980s. We had secretaries with typewrit- ers, draftsmen without computers, in fact we had no computers. I was able to par- ticipate in some of the first computer map- ping that Pan Am did. Today, my guess is that it’s instead very rare for a map to be drawn by hand. Some of these which our era produced were beautiful and also highly interpretive. A geologist can draw by hand whatever his imagination tells him between two data points. By contrast, the machine carefully spaces the distance between two points and blends the con- tours to the different space between two adjoining points of control. Only the drill can ultimately tell us which interpretation is correct. Certainly, the oil industry is different to- day than it was during my time in the oil patch all those decades ago. However, you still need a lease to drill on, you need a drill rig, casing, tanks, and surface equip- ment, and of course the money to pay for it all. The title and legal work become more complicated each year it seems. The result is that it takes longer to get a well deal ready to be drilled. Big Oil is putting their money in offshore leases and drilling, in

spite of the cost. Leasing and title work are much simpler. Their current offshore plays are off Africa, South America (es- pecially Brazil), Australia, and Asia. The Russians are pushing for offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean. North America has some activity off eastern Canada. There is noise about the East Coast and the West Coast, but that appears to be stalled into the future. Independent oil companies have dis- covered the shale oil and gas production in North Dakota, Oklahoma, and West Texas. Shale basin reserves are located in at least 22 States. Lots of oil and gas are being produced, propelling the U.S. back into the ranks of major producer as it once was. If the price can be maintained at over $50 per barrel, then our local oil and gas industry can continue to be profitable. The environmentalists are strongly against fracking. We must continue to develop fracking procedures which accomplish their goals more safely, protecting the ground water table, recycling the water, and not allowing that water to be put back, over-pressuring shallow disposal forma- tions. This process should not be causing earthquakes. We must flare less gas and put it back in the reservoir if we do not have a current market for it. Gas is worth money so why burn it? Pipelines are a significant concern as many of them are very old at this point. The statistics indicate as many as 80% of them are not tested, and the majority are not tested on a regular basis. A big explo- sion like the one in San Bruno, California ― just minutes from San Francisco Inter- national Airport ― has made some cities re-think having natural gas piped to their homes. Writing the book gave me a chance to look at the industry, relive some of my adven- tures, and provide an historical account of my own development inside it. The quest for oil and gas changed my life. As a result of my chosen profession, my family not

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