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Member Spotlight: William Murray, American Refining Group

Posted By Lyndsey Kleven, Communications Manager, Wednesday, July 31, 2019

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

General Information

William (Bill) Murray was born in Massachusetts while his father was stationed there in the military. Shortly afterwards they moved back to Ohio and he was raised in the small town of Waynesburg, right in the middle of the East Canton oilfield. He remembered as a young child in the late 1960s and seeing bright lights in the fields, which he later learned were drilling rigs, and far off flames, which he also learned was gas being flared. Murray grew up in the Clinton oil boom and at the time didn’t realize that he would end up working in the oil and gas industry for his career.

Murray went to Sandy Valley High School and got his initial interest in the industry from his football coach. Coach Widder had graduated from Marietta College and his closest friends from college, one of those being Dan Pottmeyer, had success working as a petroleum engineer. Coach Widder nudged Murray into the petroleum program based on his academics. Marietta College was a good fit for Murray as he also wanted to play college baseball, and the school had a very good baseball program—he really wanting to be a professional baseball player. Murray took the advice of his coach and enrolled in petroleum engineering and also played baseball there and was on Marietta’s first National Championship team in 1981. This ended up being a great experience in all aspects for Murray. After graduating in 1983, Murray started his 35 plus year career in oil and gas industry. Currently, Bill resides in North Canton, Ohio with his wife Linda and son Cole, 15. Bill also has two grown children, Lucas 31, Morgan 27, and five grandchildren.

Industry Experience

At the time it was almost guaranteed that you would land a job right out of college with a degree in petroleum engineering. During the tail end of Murray’s time in Marietta prices spiked in 1981, but when he graduated in 1983 prices were much lower and it was becoming increasingly hard to get placed with a major oil company after graduation. However, Murray was very fortunate and landed his first in the fall of 1983 at an independent oil and gas company, Belden & Blake Corporation in North Canton. He remembers competing with three other classmates from Marietta College and had the feeling of winning the lottery when he awarded the job.

Belden & Blake was a large independent company, which was later purchased by Enervest. Murray had a great 20-year career, starting with the company as an engineer in his early 20s and getting a lot of exposure to different areas in the oil patch. Belden & Blake invested a lot of resources in technology, and Murray estimates having been involved in the drilling and fracing of more than 1,000 wells during his time with the company. One of the highlights was leading a team that drilled the first horizontal well in Ohio in the Clinton Sandstone in the late 1980s. “Drilling horizontal wells in the Clinton Sand could be a very important key to the future success for many of our Ohio’s legacy operators,” said Murray. “It would be really great for this horizontal drilling in the Clinton to work for the conventional oil producers.” Throughout his career at Belden & Blake, Murray continued to move up within the organization, to Vice President and General Manager and led one of five Belden & Blake’s operating divisions.

American Refining Group, Inc.

After working 20 years on the exploration and production side of the business with Belden & Blake, Murray made a move to the crude oil refining side of the business and went to work for the American Refining Group (ARG) in 2004 to focus on ARG’s crude oil supply for the refinery. Now having been with ARG for 15 years, Murray is as excited to be in this industry as any point in his career.

“I am so fortunate to work for such a good company where I have the opportunity to work and serve so many hard working oil and gas producers in Ohio and the Appalachian Basin, it’s hard to even call it work,” said Murray. “The relationships with the oil producers are special. I really enjoy this role, and my focus here at ARG is to satisfy the crude oil producers and to provide them with a high level of service to help them be more successful. As the Producers are more successful, so is ARG.”

ARG is a specialty lubricant refinery headquartered in Bradford Pennsylvania. It’s the oldest continuously operating lube oil refinery in the world, started in 1881 near the Drake discovery well in Pennsylvania. ARG is a specialty refining solutions provider, with a full range of high quality products including base oils, waxes, resins, naphthas, distillate solvents, fuels and industrial lubricants. ARG sells a hydrocarbon based drilled mud locally in the Utica/Marcellus shale play and is the largest supplier of zinc free rail road engine oil east of the Mississippi. ARG focuses on specialty niche products to add value to its customers. Murray works out of ARG’s crude terminal in Mineral City, Ohio with 25 employees’ onsite at this location that focuses on crude purchasing and crude hauling. The crude purchasing team’s mission is to provide a high level service to the crude oil producers and to provide long term crude supply to run the refinery in Bradford at full capacity. Approximately 45 percent of the refinery’s crude supply comes from Ohio both from conventional wells and Utica Shale wells, which plays a large role in the success of ARG.

“We are serving more than a few hundred Ohio crude oil producers, ranging from an individual well owner to larger operators with several thousand wells and we appreciate every single producer,” said Murray.

On a daily basis, ARG’s crude purchasing and gathering team is staying connected to Ohio producers to serve their crude hauling needs. Crude hauls are tracked very closely to ensure a high level service is being provided. The current average time from ARG is two days from “call to haul” which is a turnaround time they company prides itself on. Murray is vice president of crude supply and logistics, and his team is responsible for making sure the refinery has ample crude supply for both the short and long-term.

OOGA Involvement

Over the past 36 years, Murray has been fortunate enough to work with many great oil and gas producers and to be involved with the Association. Murray has been a member of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association since he started working in the industry in 1983. He’s remained involved and engaged in OOGA over the years because of OOGA’s strong support of the industry and the relationships he’s established and maintained through his OOGA involvement. Having involvement in the industry beyond Ohio’s borders, Murray noted that the working environment in Ohio is far better to other states. He attributes this to OOGA’s excellent leadership and proactiveness with the legislature and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Murray described ARG’s success as being solely dependent upon the success of the producers. ARG likes to remain actively engaged in OOGA and to support the Association in its mission to serve all stakeholders. Murray described how ARG feels privileged to support the Association by being major sponsors at many of its events, which he finds to be invaluable networking opportunities. Attending OOGA events that bring the industry together as a whole, is a great way to gather with customers and suppliers.

Murray is currently involved in participating in the producers committee and the events committee. Murray was co-chair of the safety committee for about seven years. This committee recognized the need to expand its efforts, and he helped to launch the Ohio Oil & Gas Safety Council. This put into place a dedicated resource to provide the necessary information and training to make the industry a leader in Safety. Murray also had participated on the legal affairs committee. Murray looks forward to continuing to be very involved with the Association for many years to come.

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