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Member Spotlight: Joseph W. Haas, Reserve Energy Exploration Company

Posted By Lyndsey Kleven, Communications Coordinator, Wednesday, April 01, 2015

The member spotlight series features legacy OOGA members who have also been a member of the Association for at least 10 years. If you would like to be highlighted, please contact Lyndsey Kleven

Background information:

Joe Haas had an unconventional start in the energy industry. Haas spent a number of years in the navy in the 1960s, working for Admiral Hyman G. Rickover; Rickover was the United States Navy admiral who directed the nuclear propulsion program.  It was a joint command between the Navy and the Atomic Energy Commission.  Haas was a Petty Officer assisting with the interview process for all officers entering the Navy’s nuclear power program,  helped coordinate the applications for security clearances for successful candidates and performed other administrative functions. The experience launched his fascination with the role energy would play in our country’s future. Following his years in the U.S. Navy, Haas finished his pre-law program at Cleveland State University and was headed to law school.

“I talked my brother Bob into going to law school with me.  He went and I didn’t,” Haas said. “I went to work for my brother Jim who had started a small oil and gas company, focused primarily in Geauga County.”

In 1972 Joe went to work for his brother, Jim Haas, who had started American National Petroleum and knew immediately that the oil industry was where he wanted to spend his career.  It was a small growing business, Joe worked as a Landman, financial officer and any other job that needed to be done. Soon after starting, his brother bought a drilling rig and Joe helped manage that for a couple of years.                                                                                                                    

“I loved the industry.  So I basically stayed and didn’t go to law school. Jim loved wildcatting and we worked on several large land programs in Ohio and New York.  At one time we had 100,000 acres of oil and gas leases in the Finger Lakes region of New York.  We sold those properties to Earl Linn (Mike Linn’s father) and Colt Crucible Steel.  Several hundred wells were drilled on those leases.”

Jim and Joe worked together until 1976.  

“I had my own ideas on how to run a business and Jim had his. So at the age of 29 I started my first company, which was called Pioneer Resources.”

Pioneer Resources focused on land acquisition and worked throughout Ohio and New York, doing several land acquisition programs.  Like many small independent companies at the time, Pioneer had difficult financial times after the commodity prices plunged in the mid 1980’s.

From 1988 to 2000, Haas did oil and gas land work and gas marketing in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.  In 2001 Haas formed Reserve Energy Exploration Company, which he still runs today.

About Reserve Energy Exploration Company:

Haas is the President of Reserve Energy Exploration located in Auburn Township, Geauga County. The company’s business model is to locate new reserves beginning with the development of a geological concept, reviewing historical data and using this experience to identify potential areas that may support oil and gas exploration. Upon completing the initial studies, a land team will research lease availability and infrastructure. Reserve would then typically partner with an operating company and begin to acquire leases.

The exploration team will then high grade the prospect with an in-depth subsurface study and geophysical studies that furthers the likelihood for a successful drilling program.  Depending on the size of the program, Reserve and its joint venture partner will begin developing the project or in the case of larger (10,000+ acres) seek a large independent to jointly develop the prospect. Many times Reserve will continue to do land services after the prospect is in the development stage.

“We’ve worked with many of the operators in Ohio, helping them put their land programs together.  We work with a lot of the legacy operators to help them augment their own land departments and have also worked with some of the largest independents in the country.”

Haas has a daughter and three sons, all of which have joined Reserve Energy in various capacities.  Over the course of the last 12 years, all of his children have taken an active role in the business after pursuing other endeavors.  It is anticipated that the new generation will own and manage the business. 

As the company grew, it got involved in larger projects.  Reserve Energy currently has lease positions in Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.  With the help of Joe’s sons and daughter the company has put together four utility scale Wind projects (150,000 acres) in Michigan, New York and Ohio.  Two of the projects are currently being developed.   

Having worked in the oil and gas industry for more than 40 years, Haas has a profound respect for the industry.  He feels the oil and gas business in the United States is strong because most people in the industry respect and have a deep appreciation of the challenges and opportunities the industry offers.  His children share the gratitude to be able to work in such a great business.

“Because we are a land based company we have a tremendous appreciation for the relationship between the landowners, both surface and mineral, and the oil and gas industry.” Haas said, “America is one of the only places in the world that an individual owns mineral rights.  The freedom of mineral ownership in the United States has helped create the largest, most diverse, innovative and efficient oil and gas industry in the world.  The fact one does not need to negotiate with the government to obtain mineral rights allows anyone that has the courage and financial wherewithal to develop the oil and gas rights in a free market environment.”                                                                                         

Shale-development’s impact on business:

Reserve was well prepared for the Shale boom in Ohio after having been involved in large-scale exploration projects throughout the Appalachian, Michigan and Illinois Basins. As Shale started developing (2004), the first project Reserve worked on was in New York, which never got fully developed because of the politics and the hydraulic fracturing ban currently in place there.

“We watched the development of the Marcellus carefully, a lot of friends were working on projects,” Haas shared.  “Our first real aggressive Shale projects were in eastern Ohio. By 2008 we put together a large lease position somewhat ahead of the big activity that occurred in 2010 and 2011. The company has about 125,000 acres of Shale leasehold acres in various stages of development. There are 28 Shale wells drilled on projects Reserve initiated. Reserve has participated as a working interest and/or royalty owner in most of them. Some have been more successful than others.” 

Haas cited having a well-trained and effective land team and working with geologists and engineers that really understood the Shale and helped develop the projects. Reserve worked closely with several legacy operators in Ohio and were able to place their deep rights under their held by production assets in drilling programs along with term leases secured by Reserve.

Current Projects

Recognizing that the success of the Shale programs would eventually negatively impact the commodity prices for oil and gas, Reserve shifted its focus from Shale prospects to shallow oil.  Joe and his joint venture partner Bill Kinney of Summit Petroleum Inc. are focused on developing conventional prospects with lower finding cost.  They are currently in the process of creating several large exploration projects in Ohio.

OOGA involvement:

Haas joined the Ohio Oil and Gas Association in 1975 and has been an active member his entire career. He served as a Trustee for the Association in the late 1980s when he was elected as one of the Association’s Regional Producers’ Representatives. Tom Stewart asked Joe to chair a Landman’s committee to manage an attempt by the State of Ohio to license Landmen. The committee defeated the attempt to license Landmen as real estate agents.  Haas feels the Association creates a vehicle for the diverse membership to work together for the betterment of the industry and each member.    

“I think the difference between the oil and gas industry and many other businesses in this country is that the participants love the industry.  It goes beyond the role they play in the industry, whether they’re a geologist, an engineer, a Landman, drive a truck, pump wells, everyone  should realize the importance of our work and have a deep appreciation and respect of the industry,” Haas said.  “There always seems to be negative forces that are opposed to the oil and gas development, therefore, people in the oil and gas industry tend to be very protective of our business, I don’t see that in other industries.”

One of the greatest benefits of being a member, and the most important aspect Haas noted, was the effectiveness of the Association’s legislative advocacy on behalf of the industry.  

“OOGA has been one of the most effective oil and gas trade associations of any of the other state oil and gas organizations in the country.  It’s very well respected.” Haas said, “We spend time in other states and knowledgeable oil people speak very highly of the OOGA.  The organization has a strong cadre of producers and professionals that volunteer countless hours to make the OOGA an effective industry advocate.”

The networking opportunities are also important.  The Association provides an opportunity to build long lasting friendships and business relationships which are critical for success in the oil and gas industry.

“For my business, the networking is very important. It’s great to meet the folks in the business at the meetings and activities the Association holds. It is hard to go out and drill [especially Shale] when you have several companies contributing leases to the unit unless you have some form of relationship. Contacts made at various OOGA functions often turn out to be very helpful in a future business deal.”

Haas also mentioned OOGA’s sister organization, OOGEEP, for doing a tremendous job in getting the word out to schools and the public at large as to what the industry is all about. He feels showing the benefits, both financially and the long term security of our nation needs to be publicized by groups like OOGEEP. 

“I encourage all oil and gas professional to not only be active in the OOGA, but also their respective professional associations.”  Joe has been an active member in the American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL) since 1977.  He has twice served on the Board of Directors and served as a member of several committees.  As chair of the long range educational committee, he helped create two videos that set out the AAPL’s ethical standards and best practices.  These videos are used for seminars and in house training of Landmen. 

Joe and wife (Cindy) of 42 years live in Newbury, Ohio.  They both are active in several civic and church organizations.

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