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Member Spotlight: James Haas, Reserve Energy Exploration Company

Posted By Lyndsey Kleven, Communications Manager, Monday, October 29, 2018

Background Information

James (Jim) Haas is second generation oil and gas. Haas grew up in Chagrin Falls, graduated high school from Notre Dame Cathedral Latin and received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati business school. After forging a path in commercial real estate for the first decade of his career, Haas found his way back to the family oil and gas business, Reserve Energy Exploration Company.

Right out of college, Haas started working for Developers Diversified Realty Trust (DDR) and was an early member of the Executive Training Program. Haas did this for five years, with the focus on developing large power center shopping centers throughout the country. He went from a role in a large public company to a small family business when he took an opportunity to work for a privately owned real estate developer in Cleveland. He remained in this role for nine years, wearing many hats and leading the development of smaller scale shopping centers, post offices and historical buildings. This all involved handling leasing with tenants, coordinating with contractors, government officials, historical tax credit buyers and lenders.

Industry Background

Haas grew up around oil and gas, as his father, Joe, has been working in the business since 1973. Growing up his father emphasized the importance of having a strong work ethic by requiring all of the Haas children to have jobs. This was not just encouraged for money, but to gain an understanding of responsibility. In high school and throughout college, Haas started doing odd jobs, from painting tank batteries, to installing pipelines and working for Orwell Natural Gas one summer. The work he did for his father at this time was more technical, including doing courthouse research.

When Haas graduated in 1996, the opportunity that existed in oil and gas in the Appalachian Basin looked very different than it does today. Having a college internship at DDR and a great job lined up out of school led Haas to commercial real estate. The skills that he built in this field would later be of great value as the shale play started taking off in our region in the late 2000s. In 2009, Haas decided to start working for his father.

Reserve Energy Exploration Company

In 2001, Reserve Energy Exploration Company was founded by Joe Haas, based in Auburn Township, Geauga County. Joe had been in the oil and gas business nearly thirty years and previously worked for his brother and on ventures of his own. 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 will begin to acquire leases.

“Reserve is pretty unique in that we are an early stage exploration company, which is rare, not a lot of people are focused on exploration,” said Jim Haas. “You don’t see many groups even having exploration budgets. Everyone is willing to participate once you prove up an area, and they have budgets for the development piece.”

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 will begin developing the project or, in the case of larger acreage plays (10,000+), seek an industry partner to jointly develop the prospect. Many times Reserve will continue to do land services after the prospect is in the development stage.

At Reserve, Jim is the vice president of development and, being that it is a small family company, still wears many hats. Haas’ primary role is to look for new opportunities and execute on existing projects with industry partners. He truly believes that it’s a relationship-based business, with many repeat partners and some of the relationships stemming back to his father’s work in the industry multiple decades ago. Haas also works alongside his three siblings and says they all have characteristics that complement each other and the business well.

“Our business model and focus are that we treat people well, from the bottom to the very top,” explained Haas. “From our staff, to our contractors working in the field, to the landowners—if we drill on their land to ensure that property is taken care of.”

Industry Overview

Haas likes working in the energy industry because it is essential to our every day life and comforts along with providing an exciting opportunity to be entrepreneurial. Also growing up around the business draws people into it. He has seen the industry change tremendously because of the shale play over the last years.

“It is a hope that we can continue to work towards having the average Ohioan fully realize the positive impacts of our industry and to shed this negative stigma,” explained Haas. “It is amazing what one HBO documentary can do to an industry. There’s so many uses for the products that are derived from oil and gas that people do not even think about. The average consumer could really suffer economically if it wasn’t for our industry.”

Ohio was traditionally groups of independent operators, conventional service companies and rigs. Haas has noticed this shift as larger groups came into the state to drill horizontal shale wells. This shift has had broader impacts on changes in land, leasing and royalty rates, changes in well costs and overall midstream capacity. Private equity has really energized the business with the money but changed the way people are viewing exploration. In Ohio, it is amazing how important midstream and take away is, with the quantity of gas being produced.

OOGA & Professional Involvement

Haas recounted his father instilling the importance of being involved with professional organizations since he was young. He attended his first OOGA Summer Meeting with his father when he was still in high school. As Haas has built his career over the years, his perspective on the importance of these groups has also evolved. Early on he saw professional organizations as a means of providing networking opportunities, but as he has become more involved with OOGA this notion has completely changed for him. 

In 2015, Haas was elected to the OOGA Board of Trustees and since then has gotten a glimpse of the broader impacts on the industry. It has been eye opening to Haas the level of proactivity that OOGA derives and its ability to emphasize the bigger picture and support the industry as a whole.

“There should be a huge level of respect for the past board members and trustees who have put in so much time and effort to get the policies in place that we currently have,” emphasized Haas. “It is a big commitment to be that involved, but everyone who is realizes the need for it. It is equally as important to stay ahead of forthcoming issues and continue to build a group of people willing to be that involved as we’re facing a shift in generations.”


The member spotlight series features OOGA members making an impact with their membership. If you would like to recommend someone to be highlighted, please contact Lyndsey Kleven at: lyndsey@ooga.org

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Steve Zemper, Primrose Oil Co. says...
Posted Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Congratulations, Jim. Now let's pass it on to future generations.
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