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Oilfield Patriot Award Acceptance Speech from Jerry Olds

Posted By Lyndsey Kleven, Communications Coordinator, Monday, August 17, 2015

On July 27, 2015 during the Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA) annual summer meeting, OOGA presented Jerry Olds, founder and president of Solid Rock Energy, Inc. (Solid Rock) with the Oilfield Patriot Award, a decade long honor bestowed by the trade association.

Amidst Jerry’s shock of being chosen as the recipient, he made his way through the cheering reception hall filled with oil and gas colleagues, where he met his family in the front of the room. Together the more than 130 attendees watched a 10-minute video of Jerry’s family, friends, and colleagues reflecting on his distinguished career as a petroleum geologist and his contributions to protect, promote, and advance the industry.

Jerry accepted the award and delivered one of the most remarkable impromptu speeches any recipient of the award has ever given. He accepted the award on behalf of the “old timers,” the ones that laid the foundation for the OOGA.

“I would hate to think what the oil and gas industry in Ohio would be like without this Association,” said Olds. “My claim-to-fame with the Association was that I was on the executive committee when Tom Stewart was hired.”

Olds went on to express his gratitude of being able to make a living in something that he’s really enjoyed doing, with the people he’s enjoyed being around—not to mention in the greatest industry ever known.

He then asked, “Have you ever thought about what the American oil and gas industry has done?”

Olds described the astonishing amount of wealth the industry has created and its extent. And not just for those in the industry, but also for the people building the hotels, the investors, the steel mills, and farmers collecting a royalty check, and so on.

“And it’s been creating wealth from the very start. It has been the innovator and pusher of discovering oil and gas in this world. From Titusville, to Burning Springs, to Findlay, to Spindle Top, to the Persian Gulf, to Venezuela, to the North Sea, to the Gulf of Mexico, and all the places in-between.” Jerry told how the industry hasn’t only created wealth but it has also created better lives for countless people.

He described how the first oil that was produced before automobiles existed was refined into kerosene and used for lighting, before which, lighting came by means of candles and whale oil. Jerry said the oil and gas industry “saved the whales.” Following this, the oil and gas industry teamed up with the automobile industry.

“Even today we’re cleaning up the atmosphere. And you’re a part of that industry, whatever you do in it. From an Exxon CEO to a roughneck, you’re a part of that, creating this better life for people.”

The two reasons people in the United States choose to work in the oil and gas industry are because of the free enterprise system and the private ownership of oil and gas mineral rights.

“A lot of people don’t like the free enterprise system, they say ‘it’s not fair.’ Their definition of fair is that every game ends in a tie. But fair is, win or lose, you play by the rules. And this competition is what’s making it great. It is thanks for those profits that our environment has gotten better. The guys that saved the whales didn’t set out to save the whales; they set out to make a profit. The guys combating pollutions, they didn’t set out to do that; they set out to make a profit. And even today we’re cleaning up the atmosphere even when we set out to make a profit. Profit is a good word! And I’d like to have some more of it. So hang in there and continue to work at it.”

The other reason is the private ownership of oil and gas rights. More wells have been drilled in the United States than the rest of the world combined. “And that is because of private ownership of oil and gas rights.”

Jerry warned to be wary when a misguided journalist or politicians starts talking about oil and gas rights in the state of Ohio. “They’re not talking about what Ohio state owns in oil and gas rights. Which by the way, was mismanaged and the state could have picked up several hundred millions dollars out of that. They’re trying to confiscate the rights that people own and distribute them among everyone. They can do that in one of two ways.”

“One way is that they could raise the severance tax above what is needed to run and supervise the industry. By doing this, they’re taking a little nip out of people’s oil and gas rights. And the thing about that is, they’re not going to be satisfied in a few years with a little nip, they’re going to want a bigger one.”

He cited the other way being through regulations, which are expensive and ridiculous. Olds said, “and the worst example I can think of is the state of New York.” New York banned hydro fracking of horizontal wells in the Marcellus shale formation.

“The landowners along the Pennsylvania line can look across the road, and they can see the Pennsylvania farmer reaping tens of thousands of dollars in their mineral rights, while they don’t get a dime.”

Jerry brought this to perspective when he asked, “what do you think would have happened if all the states had been like New York? What do you think the price of gasoline would be today? And how big of a depression would we currently be in?”

“Our founding fathers knew that government was necessary. But they also knew it was like a wild horse. That it had to be tamed before it could be of a service to people. And if you don’t restrain it, it turns out to be a monster. And it will devour the fruits of your labor and it will consume your freedom.”

Jerry turned to Shawn Bennett and said, “Shawn, your main job is to train wild horses and restrain monsters.”

Jerry proceeded to give a rather unique analogy of OPEC, saying there is a man in Saudi Arabia with his hand on the oil valve. And up until last November he’d pinch it back just a little bit. In November something changed; and they stopped pinching it back, but instead started opening it up just a little bit. And the price of oil and gasoline crashed.

“And do you know why he changed? He changed what he was doing because of what you do. And everybody that goes out to fill up his or her tank with cheap gasoline ought to be giving you a thank you note. But instead you’ve got people that berate you.”

Jerry went on to highlight the obliviousness of the many groups of people outside the oil and gas industry and how they attempt to portray the industry and those working in it. 

“From the self-appointed environmentalist, flying around in a private jet that says that you’re killing the polar bears. To the naïve student, who doesn’t know what he doesn’t know inspired by a professor that’s educated beyond his intelligence; says that you are polluting the ground water. To the journalist, wrapped up in their own agenda, who is too lazy to research, who writes about a fracking company, drilling a fracking well, on a fracking location, with a fracking rig, and that anybody within 5 miles of there is going to die an early death to some kind of radiation poisoning, or heart disease, or some kind of cancer. To the egotistical politician who thinks he can garner a few votes because he’s calling you greedy or mean spirited.”

“I don’t care what anybody says about you, I know who you are, and I am proud to be one of you! Thank you for what you do and thank you for this award!”

Olds also elaborated on thanking a few significant people that had been a part of his career for a very long time:

Suzanne Beck who has worked in his office for more than 20 years. Jerry attributed her as being “one of those people who steps in and takes over the office and takes charge of everything. And I found out when I took a vacation earlier this year, that things run better without me." 

Chris Figge, who grew up with Jerry and has been a partner on many ventures, some good and some not so good. Jerry and a group once drilled a dry hole, having failed to mention to Chris that he had an interest in it. Jerry recalled telling Chris the news and then sending him a bill, which Chris paid, “who wouldn’t want a business partner like that?” 

Dick Poling and David Hill, who did the “hard heavy lifting” and the “dirty work” as Jerry considered himself to be the somewhat lazy one. Olds attributed these two as carrying him for a longtime. 

Nathan Anderson and his crew at PDC for taking Jerry under his wing to education him on the shale.

Connie Olds, Jerry’s wife. Olds said, “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her.” The two met while Jerry was a sophomore in college, his wife’s life savings helped to put him through school. They then packed up and moved to Lafayette Louisiana where they didn’t know a soul. Following this, Jerry “quit the best job he’d ever had” and moved his wife, along with their two kids, to Ohio to chase the Morrow County boom. “She never knew when I was going to be home, weekends, holidays, etc. But she stayed with me through thick and thin. This award is for you.” Connie and Jerry will be celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary this August.

Choosing just one recipient for this award is always very difficult, but recognizing Jerry’s service and what he has accomplished throughout his more than 50 year storied career in oil and gas needs to be celebrated. The message among all of his friend’s and colleagues resonates in similarity. Jerry’s passionate knowledge of the industry, willingness to share and mentor those around him, joined with his astounding work ethic make him a shining example of an Oilfield Patriot.

On behalf of the entire Ohio Oil and Gas Association and its membership, congratulations to Jerry Olds on receiving the honor of being our 2015 Oilfield Patriot Award recipient, it is very well deserved. 

You can view the Oilfield Patriot Award video here:

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