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Member Spotlight: Sharon Davis, EnerVest

Posted By Lyndsey Kleven, Communications Coordinator, Monday, October 05, 2015
Updated: Thursday, October 08, 2015

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

Background information: 

Sharon Davis’ entry into the oil and gas industry was untraditional, having no family background or formal education in the field. Today her career in the industry is approaching 25 years. Davis grew up in the Hartville area where her background working as dispatcher in the trucking business. Through her mother’s connection with Chuck Moyer, a geologist, and his wife Paula, an accountant, both working for Lomak Petroleum, Davis was able to get an interview with the company, starting her career in the oilfield in 1991. She began working in Lomaks operations department as a dispatcher for the water trucks.   

Davis recalled the job as being extremely boring; the days were slow and there was little to no dispatching actually occurring. At the time Personal Computers were brand new on the scene and Lomak had two of them in the building. 

“The PCs were not an integral part of the business yet, and were more novelty than anything at the time. I used to fool around with the PCs in my downtime, which was a lot then, and I taught myself how to use Lotus, a spreadsheet program.  I enjoyed figuring out how it all worked.”

Davis’ career progression began when Steve Grose, VP of Operations for Lomak at the time, was looking to hire a petroleum engineer to assist him with his work, which wasn’t in the budget.  He saw that Davis had a certain aptitude with numbers and the Lotus program, so Grose brought Davis over to work for him. She was tasked with learning how to run an engineering software package called OGRE (oil and gas reserves economics) that does decline curve forecasting. In her new role Davis began putting together reserves reports for Lomak; all of her education on the matter she learned doing. 

Over the years Davis has seen a fair share of changeover and transition. She described Lomak Petroleum as starting in Hartville and continuing to grow after she was hired. In 1998 after expanding its operations significantly in the west, the name changed and the company became known as Range Resources.  A few years later Range entered into a deal with FirstEnergy to create a partnership. FirstEnergy contributed 50% of its Ohio assets and Range contributed 50% of its Appalachian Basin assets to form Great Lakes Energy Partners. This partnership continued until 2004 when First Energy Corp decided to move another direction and Range acquired First Energy’s piece to dissolve the partnership. In 2010 Range Resources sold everything it owned in Ohio to EnerVest. EnerVest elected to keep Davis on and now all of these years later, she is working in the same office she had while at Lomak.

Work history:

In the early 1990s Lomak was small with only a couple hundred wells, mostly in Ohio and a few in Michigan—but they were growing. Sharon’s primary role with Lomak, Great Lakes and Range was to manage the reservoir-engineering database, and to produce the reserves report biannually for the Appalachia Business Unit.  

“Early on we were in the acquisition game and bought properties throughout the Appalachian Basin. I was responsible for the reserves reports including all of the acquisition evaluations in Appalachia, with Lomak, then Range, and then Great Lakes.  These were the years when the product prices were depressed.”

“That’s how the business grew.  We were not drilling wells then, in fact, we probably didn’t drill two-dozen wells as operator in the first ten years I worked in the business. We went and bought other companies, smaller companies, or pieces of bigger companies. I was responsible for the reserves evaluations of almost all of those acquisitions in the Appalachian Basin that grew the company.”

In the early 1990s the big thing that was happening was Rose Run drilling. One of Davis’s favorite things was to go out to the field to see the deep wells being drilled-in. They used to drill-in on air, with no fluid in the hole; there was nothing to hold the pressure down when the gas started to come up.

“The gas would ignite a flare and shoot out 50-100 feet, which was a real spectacle, and that was something I could really get excited about. I enjoy being involved with this industry because something new is always going on. Seeing these entrepreneurial people take a chance by drilling a hole in the ground and letting pressure out, and what comes out they sell—it’s very ingenious.” 

The acquisition evaluations were always very interesting to Davis, and also very time consuming, large projects, often involving travel and not always successful. Davis recalled actually purchasing only a small percentage of the acquisitions she reviewed. There was a lot of work between acquisitions, and actually purchasing one then created even more work.

In 2004 Range began exploring the Marcellus in Pennsylvania and completed their first successful hydraulic fracturing job in this formation.

“Exploring the Marcellus for Range was a landmark for the company and being part of the early play was so interesting. And then with EnerVest I have gotten to be on the periphery of what has happened in Ohio with the Utica.”

EnerVests regional headquarters is in Charleston, West Virginia and conducts business with staff at multiple locations in the Appalachian Basin. Many of the offices came from various acquisitions.

“EnerVest bought Belden in 2005. Lomak, Range, and Great Lakes all looked into acquiring Belden multiple times over the course of the years, but never got it. Then it was sort of interesting when I was the one acquired, and acquired by EnerVest who had also acquired Belden. In my daily activity I find it ironic because of the numerous times I’ve looked at these wells before.  In fact, at one time or another, over the course of time, I probably evaluated most of the wells that make up EnerVests Eastern division.”

With EnerVest Davis has remained involved in the reserves reporting process working under the direction of the Engineering Department Manager Jeff Stevens.  As Senior Engineering Technician, she currently is responsible for producing reports for the former Range properties using the Aries software package. Davis also assists in the weekly production reporting process, annual production budgeting process and other special projects for EnerVests Eastern Division, the Appalachian Basin and Michigan operations.  

“I am so fortunate to be working at EnerVest with a team of smart and talented people; and there is no end of interesting work to do. EnerVest operates about 7,600 gross wells in Ohio alone. In our division including Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia, Virginia, and Michigan, EnerVest has about 12,000 wells. Every one of those wells makes new data every day, and that information gets piled into some database, somewhere. There’s an enormous amount of data that goes with the production of so many wells, and it’s completely useless unless you can gather it and make sense of it.  My function is to help collect the data and make it useful. So that’s sort of my forte, I collect large amounts of data, move it around and make it accessible to people who can use it to report from or analyze it.”

Shale-development’s impact on business:

“Range Resources was where the Marcellus was born. In the early 2000s the company was drilling wells in Pennsylvania not chasing the shale at all.  At the time the shale activity in the country was fairly limited to the Barnett in Texas, which was just starting to get a lot of attention and developing. Ranges first Marcellus well was initially drilled to the Oriskany in Washington County, PA. It was a vertical well because no one was drilling horizontal in Pennsylvania at the time.” 

As an engineering technician Davis worked with the geologists and the engineers that tackled the challenge of drilling in the Marcellus shale early on.

“The first Marcellus well started as a not particularly successful Oriskany well. Range senior management had been encouraging everyone to look for new plays, shale opportunities because of the excitement over the Barnett. The senior geologist for Range at the time, Bill Zagorski proposed trying for the Marcellus so they came up the hole from the Oriskany and put a bigger, Barnet style frac on the Marcellus, producing encouraging results. The big volume hydraulic fracture was the key to making it successful and was inspired by the activity in the Barnett.” 

Operators commonly penetrated the Marcellus shale to get to the Oriskany and encountered large flows of gas that typically petered out in a few hours or days, continuing onto the Oriskany.

“It just was fortuitous that they were in the right place. If they had done it further east, or anywhere else, they probably wouldn’t have had enough success to keep them going at it. Range spent a lot of time and money on that one well, but it turned into something really big. It was an exciting time and very exciting to watch.  There were a lot of really talented and smart people involved in making it happen and this was a real game-changer for Range.  They needed to focus their attention on the play in PA so they withdrew from Ohio.”

In 2010 EnerVest experienced explosive growth in the Appalachian Basin, acquiring Ranges Ohio assets and also assets in Ohio and Pennsylvania from EXCO —more than doubling its size in the region, practically overnight, at the same time strategically positioning itself as the key holder of Utica acreage in Ohio. Right away EnerVest began working with industry partners to explore the play and now in development mode, has participated in hundreds of Utica wells in Ohio as non-operator.  Davis has established processes for the company to collect the production data for these wells from its various sources and compile it into a useful format for reporting or analysis. 

Davis cited the whole shale phenomenon in Ohio and the region as having both positive and negative affects coming along with it. 

“Shale drilling has been positive in that it brought more work, more opportunity to the region, particularly in the parts of the state where the economy has been depressed for so long.  Unfortunately product prices are so low right now and this has slowed growth for sure.  Still, it is thrilling to hear of folks whose financial situations have turned-around 180 degrees due to shale activity on their property, really life changing in some instances.”

“The downside is that it has made land acquisition difficult due to competition and has priced leasing out of reach for smaller operators. You can’t be in this business, in this basin without knowing the smaller operators. And the smaller operators have it difficult to compete with the acreage costs and to participate in these high investment wells; they’re so expensive.” 

Davis elaborated on the industry being politicized in a not so positive way. The fast activity and large-scale projects have brought a lot of attention to the oil and gas business as a whole. She felt that previously the only attention the industry received was from the people who dealt with it directly, such as landowners and people with a royalty interest. Now attention is coming from whole townships or communities worried about “fracking” when it likely does not even impact them directly.

OOGA Involvement:

Davis has been a member of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA) for more than a decade and has attended its events for more than two decades. She is also a long-standing member of Tuscarawas Valley Desk & Derrick, and is a Board Member and Secretary for the Ohio Petroleum Section of the Society of Petroleum Engineers.  The SPE honored Davis with a Regional Service Award in 2011.

“It was a natural progression to move into the OOGA membership. I was fascinated by what Petroleum Engineers were doing with the Society of Petroleum Engineers, and OOGA was the next stepping-stone beyond that. I started going to the fall technical meetings probably twenty years ago and haven’t missed one since. I remember meeting Tom Stewart and Rhonda Reda at the first Technical meeting I attended.  I think it was Tom’s 1st or 2nd year at OOGA and I was so inspired by Rhonda’s energy and industry knowledge.  I always look forward to the Winter meeting. That’s when I can catch up with what is going on in the industry and see people I maybe only see once a year.  But I have to be honest, my favorite OOGA event has always been the Summer Meeting golf outing.  I have met so many interesting people at these events and I have met some I consider good friends.” 

Most of Davis’ participation has been attending the events for the networking and social aspect rather than active participation. An area of interest has been seeing what groups have been joining the Association over the past few years as the membership has grown. She finds the daily emails put out by the Association as a way to stay updated on regulatory issues and other happenings in the industry she normally wouldn’t keep informed with through her daily work. 

“I like getting the updates from the Bulletin and other outreach. I often share what I receive to help keep other people informed. There are so many people outside the industry that just don’t know what’s going on, and only “know” whatever they read or hear, or anything someone tells them and very often it’s not factual.”

Davis revealed how she has learned a great deal from the industry and those around her professionally. She has had strong mentors over the years and has worked with so many interesting, talented and very smart people.  She feels privileged to help train younger colleagues coming into the industry.

“For years I have shared my experience and knowledge with less seasoned techs and helped to develop new engineers fresh out of school. I see them start to use skills that they’ve learned from me and to become proficient in them. I’ve seen many people move ahead in their careers and mature professionally.  It’s been very gratifying to participate in helping to develop these people. Maybe I’ve contributed to their careers; I like to think that I have.”

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