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Member Spotlight: Steve Downey, EnerVest Operating, LLC

Posted By Lyndsey Kleven, Communications Coordinator, Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Background information:

Steve Downey has a B.S. degree in Accounting from West Virginia Institute of Technology and passed the certified public accountant exam in 1989. Starting his career as an internal auditor for a bank, Downey would have never thought he would spend the majority of his nearly 30-year career in the oil and gas industry out of Charleston, West Virginia. Fresh off the CPA track, Downey left the finance sector of Columbia Gas Transmission in 1990 and never looked back taking positions in strategic planning, marketing, and facility sales. Columbia Gas transmission is a midstream company that provides storage and gas transportation services and was looking for someone with banking experience; Downey spent the next 18 years working there.

“I think being a CPA does give me a different perspective than engineers and geologist, the real scientist behind the industry, who are just brilliant,” said Downey. “I look at things a little bit differently at times and it is a healthy balance.”

After leaving Columbia, Downey went to work for Triana Energy, a production company that purchased the former affiliate of Columbia ultimately purchased by Chesapeake where he worked until leaving for EnerVest Operating, LLC. in March 2006.

About EnerVest:

EnerVest is an exploration and production company that was formed in 1992 and currently operating in 15 states, owning 6 million acres. EnerVest employs 1,300 people and has more than 28,000 wells that they operate with an interest in approximately 6,000 more as a non-operator, having a stake in both conventional and horizontal wells. EnerVest has an interest in most of the large production basins throughout the United States Its Appalachian assets are located in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and New York.    

EnerVest operates as two entities, private equity and a publically traded MLP, EnerVest Energy Partners. The private equity model is working out of Fund XIII right now, which will make $3 billion in assets acquisitions and is kicking off its next fund, Fund XIV, which will be a $2.5 to $3.0 billion fund.

Downey is the Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for EnerVest. His region covers the Appalachian states that EnerVest’s operates in (Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan), and includes 13,000 wells and 1.5 million acres. Much of Downey’s time is spent in Ohio being that a million (one sixth) of EnerVest’s total acreage is here.

“I’m responsible for selling the gas that EnerVest produces on a daily basis,” said Downey. “The business development role wears a lot of hats. I had the pleasure of working with our midstream investments in the Utica with Cardinal Gas Services and Utica East Ohio, seeing the projects through the negotiation of contracts, the building of the actual facilities, the operations, and ultimately the divestiture of the facilities.”

Downey is also involved in joint venture transactions at EnerVest and acquisition and divestitures transactions. He described his role as pretty varied, with a lot of flexibility to be involved with the state associations where he represents EnerVest currently in Ohio and formerly as an officer of the West Virginia Independent Oil and Gas Association. EnerVest encourage its employees to not only be members of the associations, but also to be actively involved in the association.

OOGA Involvement:

Downey became involved with the Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA) after he reacquainted with Ohio producers in his business development role. In 2008 he was asked to run for the Board of Trustees and much to his surprise, was elected on the first ballot. He will hold his current position as Secretary/Treasurer of the Executive Committee until the 2015 election. 

“I was surprised because I was a West Virginia guy with a background in working in the pipelines business, which is not always embraced by producers, but I’ve really been welcomed by all of the Ohio folks.”

In addition to his integral role on the Executive Committee, Downey was also appointed as the Commerce Committee chair. Downey’s background in midstream and pipeline has brought great value to OOGA, and he has even spearheaded the formation of the midstream subcommittee that was recently given full committee status given its importance in the development of the Utica Shale.

“Once we saw midstream growing in Ohio—pipelines, gathering lines, processing and fractionation plants—it became necessary for us to get our arms around that side of things and understand it better and be in a position to lobby for it. I was able to organize the midstream subcommittee with the movers and shakers of that segment including MarkWest, Blue Racer, Utica East Ohio, Cardinal Gas Services, EnLink, just to name a few, and I think we’ve been able to do some really good things to help the development of the shale in Ohio. Moreover, there are also opportunities for the conventional producers in this regard that the Association is focused on.”

When asked what value being a member of OOGA brings, Downey said, “The OOGA benefits are amazing, quite frankly.” Downey described OOGA as always keeping a watchful eye to see what’s happening to associations and the industry in other states, and being able to use what it has gleaned in shaping tax policy and rule making to the benefit of Ohio.

“OOGA put a lot of things in place very early in Ohio, through its public policy efforts, in case the shale revolution came to Ohio,” said Downey. “More importantly, OOGA has never forgotten its mission of representing all Ohio producers by equally representing both conventional and shale producers—and has always done a good job of taking both those players into account.”

EnerVest not only has interest in shale, but they are also the largest conventional operator in Ohio. It is just as important for EnerVest, as well as OOGA, to also make sure shale regulation is not adversely affecting the conventional producers.

Shale development’s impact on business:

Working for EnerVest, Downey has a lot of interactions with people and businesses in Ohio and other states. His experience of seeing the Shale revolution in other states has been a great asset to bring to the OOGA Board of Trustees.

“I have seen it in other states and I have been involved with many of the people who have prior experience in other states with the development of the shale. I think that interaction and the experience it has afforded me that I can share with the Board is mostly what I have brought to the table at OOGA.”

Downey credited Ohio as being one of the more proactive states when it comes to shale development and balancing it with the needs of the conventional producers. He also sees the things impacting Ohio that are also impacting EnerVest’s other operating areas. Part of the job is to leverage what is impacting each area that EnerVest operates in, and to stay ahead of it.

“The OOGA, to its credit, really got out in front of the shale development,” Downey said. “Tom Stewart and all of the OOGA officers were masterful at looking at what was happening in other states and its impact on all facets of the Industry. They did this with the thought that there could be shale in Ohio, and really did a wonderful job of foreseeing the future and balancing the needs of its members.” 

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