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Member Spotlight: Judson (Jud) K. Byrd, Artex Oil Company, Land Manager

Posted By Lyndsey Kleven, Monday, August 29, 2016
Updated: Thursday, September 1, 2016

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:

 

Jud Byrd is originally from the small town of Alexandria, which is found just west of Newark Ohio, and remained there until he moved to Columbus to attend The Ohio State University.  After taking a brief break from his formal education to join the United States Army, Jud served with the Military Police in Bad Tolz, Germany.  During his deployment overseas, he met the girl he would later marry.  Upon his return to the U.S., Jud returned to Ohio State University to complete his degree and graduated in 1975 with a degree in Business Administration, majoring in Finance and Real Estate.

 

Jud began his career in banking after graduation. One day he visited his father, a Partner in the law firm of Morrow, Gordon and Byrd, picking up a Title Exam for a mortgage loan.  While there, he shared with his father that his interest in banking was diminishing and he wanted to explore a new career path. His father shared with him that Stocker & Sitler Oil Company (a local oil and gas exploration company) was interested in hiring a Landman. Initially, Jud had no idea what a Landman did, but felt confident that he could fulfill the requirement and was up to the challenge.

 

Stocker & Sitler, Inc (Stocker & Sitler Oil Co.’s operating entity) operated over 700 wells.  Jud interviewed for the position with George Stocker and Guy Sitler and was offered the position. He accepted, and began what would become fulfilling career in the oil and gas industry.

 

Work History Overview:

 

Jud remained at Stocker & Sitler Oil Company for several years, endeavoring to become a very competent Landman.  As he learned the craft, he began acquiring leases for the company and assisted in all aspects of the Land Department.  His years of experience at his craft enabled him to become Vice President of Land in 1988.  When Stocker & Sitler decided to sell the company to CGAS Exploration in 1998, Jud remained on as Vice President of Land at CGAS. As has happened with so many Ohio il and gas companies, another acquisition later occurred and CGAS was sold to EnerVest in 2003.  Again, Jud was asked to remain with the company and continued working as a Landman for EnerVest in its Columbus and Charleston offices where he remained until 2006.

 

Jud began his career in oil and gas because he loved the challenge it represented and suited his attention to detail. What inspired his enthusiasm over the years was a desire to become one of the best Landmen in Ohio. He is a perfectionist by nature and that drive pushes Jud to give his best effort at all times.

 

“When I started at Stocker & Sitler, Guy Sitler told me two things:  The first… ‘Geologists can make mistakes, engineers can make mistakes, accountants can make mistakes, Landmen cannot.’  The second was… ‘Don’t ever drill a well in the wrong place.’ That seems rather obvious and it doesn’t mean that you don’t drill dry holes.  It’s just that you have to make sure that where you want the well is where you stake the well.” (He elaborated that if you don’t think that can happen, it does.)

In 2006, Jud joined Gary Sitler (son of Guy Sitler) who had decided to pursue the opportunity of beginning his own exploration company, Flint Ridge Energy, LTD. The company was successful for a few years but was greatly impacted as shale drilling became prevalent in Ohio. In 2011, Jud was in Marietta for a meeting with the folks at Artex Oil Company, regarding another matter they were working on; later that same year, he was offered a position there.

 

“I’ve been very fortunate to work with some of the best in the business in the oil and gas industry; I’ve worked for wonderful companies that has afforded me the opportunity to work with some brilliant geologists, engineers and operational personnel and Landmen. This career path has just been a blessing.”

 

Jud been employed by Artex since 2011 and remains there to this day. He will be the first to tell you (and has already relayed this to numerous people) how great a company Artex is to work for. He attributes that to Artex’s mission to drill and produce wells as efficiently and economically as possible. Artex has 19 full time employees and employs a number of contractors, enabling them to accomplish a great deal efficiently with a small staff.

 

“From the beginning of the well prospect, clear through the drilling of the well and production, and even after that, everything is done right. Our engineering is great, the geology is done well, and the company ensures that at every stage, everything is done correctly—and I really appreciate that.”

 

Over the last several years, Artex has specialized in doing 3D seismic and conventional drilling in the Beekmantown and Rose Run formations. Artex has shot 3D seismic in the State of Ohio and drilled more than 250 Beekmantown wells as a result.

 

Evolution of the oil and gas industry seen throughout Jud’s career:

 

When Jud first entered into the oil and gas industry, much of the drilling was focused in Clinton Sandstone wells in Eastern Ohio. Many of the wells were drilled as part of self-help projects for companies facing natural gas shortages during the early late 1970’s and early 1980s downturn. As companies sought to gain the supplies of gas they needed to run their facilities, they looked to drill their own production in order to keep the businesses running.

 

Coming off of the downturn, new formations were being discovered for drilling in the state of Ohio. Focuses shifted to the Knox drilling in the Rose Run and Beekmantown formations, allowing for fewer, yet more prolific wells to be drilled. For Jud, this made his position as a Landman increasing more difficult. In drilling a Clinton well there is less focus on being site specific. The new formations called for seismic and more specific drilling, which involved putting together deals with other companies, and other operators that control leases where you want to drill.

 

“In some respects it became more challenging.  I made the mistake one time while at CGAS to tell my colleague, Bill Grubaugh, that if he gave me a location, I’d get it drilled—never realizing that we were going to find so many locations in areas we didn’t have leased or owned by other operators.”

 

Another noticeable development Jud experienced over his years in the industry has been the countless mergers and consolidations that have taken place. Jud has seen many of the smaller operators affected by this, making them unable to compete with the larger companies in drilling wells.

 

This leads us into the largest and most noticeable change seen by everyone in the industry—shale drilling. The shale drilling came as a total surprise to many (including Jud), who mentioned drilling through the shale for years, into the Knox formations…never slowing down the bit to really take a look. Jud’s work as a Landman was greatly affected when shale leases became relevant, increasing the price of acreage. Over the past few years the technology of drilling these wells has improved greatly and allows wells to be drilled where they need to be drilled and completed how they need to be completed. Overall Jud sees the shale play as being a good thing for the state of Ohio and feels it will be a good thing for years to come.

 

With regard to the current downturn the industry is facing, Jud recommends patience and preparing for the next recovery. There have been several indicators over the past few months that prices are beginning to recover and drilling will increase as these price movements become real. Jud shared that Artex has scaled back, but that it is extremely important to use this time in preparation to drill when prices rebound.

“Our upsides are relatively short lived, because the industry has become so efficient in finding and producing oil and gas and you must be ready to take advantage of every day of those upturns. In the last 18 months we’ve really seen two downturns. The first downturn was when oil went to $60/barrel and gas $3 per MCF.  Then they dropped further to oil at $30/barrel and below $2 per MCF for gas.  I never thought in my career that I would see gas prices lower than the prices they were when I started in the business. In late 1977, gas was $2.20 an MCF, and I never expected to see that again.”

History with the OOGA and the MLBC/AAPL:

 

Jud joined the Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA) in 1977, which was his first year working in the oil and gas business. In 1981, Jud became involved with the Safety Committee and throughout the years has remained actively involved with this group.

Jud feels the Association benefits the industry for numerous reasons. It offers networking opportunities available throughout the year and most importantly allows the industry to have a voice to represent the industry at a governmental level.

In addition to being involved with the OOGA, Jud has spent much of his career actively participating in professional Landman groups.  From the late 1970s he has been involved with the Michael Late Benedum Chapter (MLBC) of the American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL). He is past president of the MLBC and served three years as a AAPL Director, representing the MLBC.

“I am proud to be a member of OOGA, MLBC, EMLF and the AAPL and of the contributions these organizations make to their memberships. I am a better Landman because of my association with these organizations…it not only provided me with education, but most importantly, many friendships that I will always cherish.”

 

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