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Meet Andrew Casper: Director of Regulatory Affairs at OOGA

Posted By Brad Miller, Membership Director, Ohio Oil & Gas Association, Saturday, April 18, 2020

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 Brad Miller at: bmiller@ooga.org

The Ohio Oil & Gas Association is happy to announce the hiring of Andrew Casper as the Director of Legal & Regulatory Affairs.

Andrew will manage regulatory and technical matters with key agencies, such as the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. He will serve as the Association’s main point of contact between OOGA’s diverse membership and these agencies on all regulatory issues impacting the industry.

“I’m thrilled to welcome Andrew to OOGA and I know his knowledge and many years of experience will be a tremendous asset to our Association,” said OOGA President Matt Hammond. “It is important that our members have someone they can depend on to help tackle the many complex regulatory issues facing our industry.”

Andrew joined the OOGA team in early April, after serving as the Director of Legal & Regulatory Affairs at the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA). In nine years with COGA, he promoted the responsible development, production and use of oil and natural gas by advocating for a stable regulatory environment with agencies and relevant stakeholders, facilitating member committees and developing and advancing consensus-based positions to legal, regulatory and policy initiatives.

“I’m excited to join OOGA’s exceptional team and I look forward to navigating the myriad of regulatory issues facing our diverse membership,” Casper said.

In Colorado, he was on the front lines of several regulatory battles, including groundbreaking rulemakings such as the hydraulic fracturing disclosure rules, setbacks and urban area mitigation measures, air quality standards, local control, water quality sampling and flowline construction, among others. He also worked on storage tank guidelines, which received the U.S. EPA’s Clean Air Excellence Award.

Prior to COGA, Andrew worked in the financial sector and was employed by a national bank and lender. He earned a B.A. from the University of Maryland, a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and an M.S. from the University of Denver.

Originally from Maryland, Andrew moved from Colorado to Ohio with his wife (a native Buckeye) and his two-year-old son. Outside of oil and gas, he is an avid hockey fan and enjoys pretty much anything involving the great outdoors.

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MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Alex Stroman, TC Energy

Posted By Brad Miller, Membership Director, Ohio Oil & Gas Association, Friday, March 27, 2020

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 Brad Miller at: bmiller@ooga.org

The South Carolina primary is coming up on the final day of February. It will be a day when the nation’s political attention will be centered on the Palmetto State. For Alex Stroman, that is a familiar feeling.

Stroman, the Government Affairs & Community Relations Manager for TC Energy—formerly TransCanada—has been involved in politics for most of his life. Born, raised and educated in South Carolina, his first job out of college was with the South Carolina Republican Party, ultimately becoming the Executive Director at age 23, at the time making him the nation’s youngest person to hold such a position for a state party.

His work also included a communications role in the state treasurer’s office and on a statewide lieutenant gubernatorial campaign. He has always enjoyed working with the press and crafting messages, skills that have helped him in his current role. “Having that background has been important for creating grassroots strategies and understanding the political realities of certain projects and for accomplishing our goals in the halls of power in states and municipalities across the country,” he said.

After cutting his chops at the state level, Stroman moved to Washington, D.C., where he served as the Director of Surrogates and Media Training for the Republican National Committee during the 2016 election cycle. He also managed the surrogate program at the Republican National Convention and for the three presidential general election debates, spending the final three months of the election detailed to the campaign in Trump Tower in New York City. He later became the Deputy Communications Director for the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee, which he called a “huge logistical undertaking.”

From there, he briefly returned to the RNC headquarters, serving as a spokesperson for the nomination of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and worked for a non-profit supporting the president’s agenda during his first 100 days in office. Then, in July 2017, looking to broaden his professional opportunities, he joined what was then still TransCanada but which has since been rebranded as TC Energy.

Headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, with U.S. headquarters in Houston, Texas, TC Energy has operations in 37 states and landowner agreements in all 50. It has more natural gas storage than any other company on the continent, and 27 percent of the energy used in the country every day is transported through its pipelines, Stroman said.

Stroman’s portfolio has expanded quite a bit in his two-and-a-half years with the company and now includes government relations work in seven states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and New Jersey. Not surprisingly, he is on the road a lot. “In total, I’ve spent 110 nights in Marriott properties (in 2019),” he said.

He became quite familiar with Ohio in just his first year on the job, predominantly with the Buckeye XPress project, part of TC Energy’s ongoing modernization program to update aging infrastructure, upgrade natural gas compression systems and increase pipeline reliability. Expected to be completed later this year, the project will replace about 64 miles of existing pipeline with safer, more reliable pipe.

Although the company has possessed a few different names throughout the past century, Stroman says TC Energy’s commitment to Ohio and the Appalachian region has never wavered. “The investments TC Energy makes in infrastructure, such as in southeast Ohio, change lives and better communities,” he said. “We engage with communities very honestly and transparently, and we make sure we are upholding our end of the bargain. We have a company motto about being a good neighbor, and I think that is something we go above and beyond in doing.”

Moving forward, Stroman feels strongly that the industry must be “ever-vigilant” in sharing its story to a wide audience regarding the positive impacts oil and natural gas have had on homes and businesses around the world. And he believes the Appalachian Basin is a significant part of that narrative. “There’s a good story to be told about the North American energy renaissance and what we’re seeing, mainly due to the shale plays in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania,” he said. “In my role at TC Energy, I am gaining a deeper appreciation and understanding of what this region is doing to remake the American economy and to strengthen American national security.”

Why is sharing that story so important? Because the opposition is strong, motivated and good at distorting the many good things the industry has accomplished, Stroman says.

“It is important for the industry to continue to look for opportunities to explain, for example, that the reason carbon emissions are going down in the United States is because of clean-burning natural gas,” he said. “So we need to tell the story of what our industry does and how our lives would be completely different under something like the Green New Deal, which would erase all the gains we’ve made to our economy over the past handful of years and over the past generation.”

Additionally, he has seen tremendous value and benefit in forming bonds with what he calls non-traditional allies, which he says is going to be the “new frontier to combating the opposition.” For example, “showing that industry and labor are allies against an opposition looking to end our livelihoods is something that politically needs to continue.”

While Stroman is no stranger to OOGA events, his involvement in the Association is about to escalate. He was elected to the Board of Trustees last fall and began his first term at the beginning of the year. “I’m honored to represent my company as we grow within the organization and I am hopeful about where OOGA is headed in 2020 and beyond,” he said.

As a trustee, Stroman hopes his experience and background can provide a helpful perspective, but he is also looking forward to learning from and assisting the people who have “been around a lot longer than I have” and who have helped make OOGA what it is today.

At the same time, he is looking forward to building upon the relationship between TC Energy and Ohio. “We’re excited to continue being a part of OOGA and continue to help the industry grow in the state of Ohio in the way that we interact with our landowners and stakeholders across the state,” he said.

As for the South Carolina primary, we did not discuss his predictions on which candidate will win, but you can be assured Alex Stroman will be watching closely. Then, it’s only another 249 days until the general election, many of which Stroman will likely be spending in Marriott properties.

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Ascent Resources CEO Jeff Fisher to Speak at 73rd OOGA Annual Meeting

Posted By Administratio Brad Miller, Membership Director, Ohio Oil & Gas Associationn, Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Featured Speaker: Jeff Fisher, CEO Ascent Resources

The Ohio Oil & Gas Association is honored to announce that Jeff Fisher, CEO of Ascent Resources, will be among the featured speakers at the upcoming 73rd OOGA Annual Meeting, March 4th - 6th at the Hilton Columbus at Easton.

Mr. Fisher has been Chief Executive Officer since December 2014 and has served as Ascent’s Chairman of the Board since February 2015. Before joining Ascent, he served as COO for American Energy Partners and was instrumental in building multiple basin-focused companies including Ascent.

Mr. Fisher worked at Chesapeake Energy Corporation from 2003 to 2013, most recently serving as Executive Vice President of Production, where he was responsible for upstream operations and integrated field developments. Prior to Chesapeake, he worked in various engineering and operational leadership roles at BP PLC, Vastar Resources and ARCO Oil and Gas, Inc.

Mr. Fisher earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Oklahoma State University.

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Mark Mills to Give Keynote Address at 2020 OOGA Annual Meeting

Posted By Brad Miller, Membership Director, Ohio Oil & Gas Association, Sunday, January 19, 2020
Mark Mills, 2020 OOGA Annual Meeting Keynote Speaker

The Ohio Oil & Gas Association is proud and happy to announce that Mark P. Mills will be headlining the 2020 Annual Meeting as the keynote speaker.

Mills is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a faculty fellow at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science where he co-directs the Institute on Manufacturing Science and Innovation. He is also a strategic partner with Cottonwood Venture Partners (an energy-tech fund focused on software), and an Advisory Board member of Notre Dame University’s Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values. He is author of the book Digital Cathedrals: The Information Infrastructure Era (Encounter Books, 2020) and Work In The Age Of Robots (Encounter, 2018), and earlier co-authored the 2005 book The Bottomless Well which rose to #1 in Amazon’s science rankings, and about which Bill Gates said: “This is the only book I’ve ever seen that really explains energy.”

Previously, he cofounded Digital Power Capital, which invested in such emerging technologies as LED lighting, power semiconductors for smart grids, and where he served as Chairman and interim CEO of a lithium battery factory. At DPC Mills undertook a year-long global, China-focused, evaluation of and visits to manufacturers of solar, wind and battery technologies. Earlier, Mills was a technology advisor for Bank of America Securities on emerging energy technologies,and coauthor of the Huber-Mills Digital Power Report, a tech investment newsletter that covered such subjects as LEDs, fuel cells, microturbines, batteries, power semiconductors and industrial automation. And, until its sale to HP, Mills served as an independent Director of preeminent engineering firm that designed power systems for global datacenters. He has testified numerous times before Congress on energy and technology matters.

Early in his career Mills served in the White House Science Office under President Reagan and subsequently provided science and technology policy counsel to numerous private-sector firms, the Department of Energy, and U.S. research laboratories. Prior to that, Mills was an experimental physicist and development engineer in microprocessors and fiber optics, earning several patents for his work at Bell Northern Research (Canada’s Bell Labs) and at the RCA David Sarnoff Research Center. He holds a degree in physics from Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.

Mills has been published in various popular publications, including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times Magazine, Real Clear Energy, as well as professional publications. He has appeared on many news and talk shows including CNN, Fox News, CNBC, PBS, NBC and ABC, and on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

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Member Spotlight: Christopher Halvorson

Posted By Brad Miller, Membership Director, Ohio Oil & Gas Association, Saturday, January 11, 2020

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 Brad Miller at: bmiller@ooga.org

When Christopher Halvorson graduated from Indiana University at South Bend in 1998, it wasn’t obvious that he would ever become involved in the oil and gas industry, much less become the CEO of a company of about 30 employees and more than 700 producing wells across the Appalachian Basin.

Both of his parents came from large farming families in Madison, Wisconsin, which is where most of his extended family remains. So his parents’ decision to move to South Bend, Indiana, just a mile from Notre Dame’s campus, is something that stands out.

“We were the black sheep by moving out of the area and by not being dyed-in-the-wool Badgers and Packers fans,” Halvorson said.

Before attaining a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance at IU, he attended the University of Toledo, where he also played baseball and eventually met his wife. Once all of his schooling was complete, he and his wife moved to the Cleveland area, where he began his professional career as a CPA with the accounting firm Hausser + Taylor, LLP.

From there, it didn’t take long for him to develop a keen interest in the oil and gas sector. Early on in his public accounting career, he began to focus on energy clients for which Hausser + Taylor provided services. “Once you develop a niche in public accounting—whether in health care, non-profits, energy, manufacturing—you start to gain more clients in that area because of your expertise,” he said. “So I had a lot of expertise in both the audit side of oil and gas, as well as on the tax side of things.”

One of those clients was northeast Ohio-based North Coast Energy, which hired him as an assistant controller in 2001. A few years later, he and some other key members of North Coast Energy sold the company to EXCO Resources, Inc. out of Dallas, Texas. In 2006, Halvorson became one of the founding members of Appalachian Basin Resources, LLC (or AB Resources), a private-equity-backed portfolio company that focused primarily on horizontal Marcellus development in Marshall County, West Virginia.

As the Chief Financial Officer at AB Resources, Halvorson led all aspects of the company’s financial management and oversaw its gas marketing function, which included procuring access into pipeline systems and the control of gas purchase agreements, as well as employing a commodity price risk management plan.

Nine years later, in March 2015, Halvorson co-founded Pin Oak Energy Partners, which is based in Akron and currently operates over 700 wells, holds 178,000 net deep acres and owns 125 miles of midstream gathering assets, primarily in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The company has acquired both conventional and unconventional wells, and it is looking to expand its midstream assets. “That’s a section of the business that we intend to grow as quickly as we’ve grown on the E&P side,” Halvorson said.

“The way we view the world is that, where we are now coming out of this boom period in the Appalachian Basin, you have a lot of companies that came into the Basin that now have assets that are non-core to either their Appalachian footprint or are non-core to their entire domestic footprint,” he said. “From our standpoint, those type of assets make attractive acquisition targets.”

One thing Halvorson finds beneficial is the wealth of information and knowledge that the industry has gained since the early phase of unconventional development, when the Marcellus and Utica were still in their infancy. “What we understand today about both geology and completion technique can inform our decisions about where we think there is still a lot of good rock remaining,” he said.

As CEO, Halvorson said his primary role is to make sure Pin Oak is looking at opportunities—either through acquisitions or development—that make the most sense on a risk-adjusted return basis. To accomplish this, he works with their engineers, geologists and pipeline experts to select the opportunities that fit company’s risk profile.

The overarching challenges for the oil and gas industry are obvious, he says: Oversupply leading to low commodity prices. “We’re one of the few industries in the world that, the better we are at things, the harder it gets for us.” However, while low prices pose serious challenges for the industry, he is proud of the fact that the growth in production of oil and natural gas has resulted in an abundance of affordable energy for American industry and families, including in our neck of the woods.

Achieving a more stable supply-demand equilibrium and settling into a better-known commodity price will strengthen the industry, he said, though he thinks that may still be five to seven years away.

Getting back to 2020, however, this year marks the beginning of Halvorson’s service on the OOGA Board of Trustees, following his election last October. How did this native of Indiana with roots in Wisconsin come to serve on the Board of the Ohio Oil & Gas Association? Halvorson’s involvement and membership with OOGA dates back about 20 years as a frequent attendee at events back in his public accounting days. In addition, the aforementioned North Coast Energy and AB Resources were each members of the Association.

Halvorson believes a major part of OOGA’s purpose and success is maintaining unity among its members and emphasizing the importance of conventional and unconventional operators working together toward the common goal of strengthening the industry as a whole.

And he believes Pin Oak’s perspective can play an important role in that effort. “I hope to bring to the Board the viewpoint of an unconventional producer that is based in the Appalachian Basin that wants to be in the Basin for the long term,” he said.

Finally, he believes it is important that those working in the industry spread the message far and wide—from citizens to lawmakers to other industries—about the value that the oil and gas sector brings to the economy and to our way of life.

“As the premier natural-gas-producing region in the world, we have to be proactive on detailing the benefits that come from our industry through working in the Statehouse and making sure that Ohioans and companies coming to Ohio achieve those benefits,” he said.

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MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Will Ratcliffe, Williams

Posted By Brad Miller, Membership Director, Ohio Oil & Gas Association, Monday, October 28, 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 Brad Miller at: bmiller@ooga.org

General Information

The afternoon that Will Ratcliffe sat down with OOGA for this spotlight, he was waiting to find out whether his next action would be traveling back home to see his family or boarding a flight to Houston later that evening

“That happens from time to time, having to travel on short notice. My wife loves it,” he said with a smirk.

More concrete on his upcoming calendar were work trips to Seattle, WA and Medora, ND.

Such is the reality when you are the Manager of Regulatory Affairs for Williams, a natural gas transmission, gathering and processing company made up of more than 5,000 employees with assets in 24 states and about 30,000 miles of pipelines.

Ratcliffe’s professional career has taken him all over the country, beginning in South Charleston, WV, where he was born and raised. Today, his mailbox is in Pittsburgh, PA, but that doesn’t mean his fondness for the Mountain State has diminished.

“I still think of West Virginia as my true home,” he said. “As many other West Virginians I’m very partial to my home state, as I presume many folks in Ohio are as well.”

Although his family background doesn’t include anyone directly connected to oil and gas, going back a couple generations there were several coal miners. and rowing up in Appalachia, he was certainly exposed to the energy industry.

“When I was a little kid, white trucks on the road were prevalent,” he said. “You’d see coal company trucks and natural gas company trucks. Frankly, I never really thought of going into the energy industry until I got to college.”

At West Virginia University, Ratcliffe earned a degree in environmental science with an emphasis in geology. His first job out of college, in the Charleston branch at Thrasher Engineering, was focused on environmental consulting. This included natural resource permitting, wetland delineations and natural stream designs for several clients, many of whom were energy companies.

A couple years later, he had the opportunity to move to Newport News, VA, working in the shipyard business with a focus on hiring shipyard employees and doing environment, health and safety trainings. That job took him all along the East Coast, including quite a bit of time in Florida.

Then following a one-year stint as an environmental consultant in Raleigh, NC, it was back to his home state of West Virginia, working at Terradon Corporation. For one of his projects, he obtained all the necessary permits for a compressor station for client Chesapeake Energy.

“Apparently I did a reasonably good enough job for them because, when the manager I was working for moved to upstate New York to figure out what this whole Marcellus thing was supposed to look like on the pipeline side, he gave me a call and wanted to know if I could come help him navigate the permitting process for Chesapeake..”

He accepted that opportunity on April 9, 2009, and he’s “been on a bit of an acquisition/divestiture roller coaster since then.” Chesapeake Energy broke off its midstream assets into a wholly owned subsidiary, Chesapeake Midstream, which later sold its assets to a private equity firm to create Access Midstream, and in 2015 Williams bought Access Midstream.

At Williams, Ratcliffe focuses primarily on the eastern states (he has a counterpart dedicated to the western states).

“I pretty much get engaged where my company needs help in any state this side of the Mississippi,” said Will.

As Manager of Regulatory Affairs, he engages on a wide array of policy and regulatory issues that may arise in respective state capitols. That requires closely tracking public policy, working with various trade associations like OOGA and reviewing and communicating with his internal team to ensure the company has the right processes in place to follow new laws and regulations.

“With a company this large and a huge asset base, there are a lot of different relationships you have to maintain in as many states that we’re in,” he said. “There’s just so many moving pieces in each respective state that you need groups that are dedicated to developing relationships in each sector, like local communities, non-governmental organizations, regulators, etc.”

Besides serving on the Executive Committee and as chair of the Midstream Committee for OOGA, he is also the Vice Chair of the Advocacy Committee for the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC), serves on several committees for WVONGA, as well as the Health and Environmental Committee for the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and is currently working on a report for the National Petroleum Council that focuses on infrastructure development.

While he believes the industry is approaching a time when we’re having to buckle up a little bit tighter, he is optimistic about the future.

“I feel strong undertones of resiliency. With every hard time and burden, other opportunities are created that I think the industry will be able to take advantage of.”

And he believes organizations like OOGA will continue to help. The many benefits of being an Association member, he says, probably don’t get the credit they deserve all the time.

“OOGA has been a really consistent voice within this state for oil and gas operators through all of the peaks and valleys,” he said. “It’s not always good times and it’s not always hard times. To try to hit the ball down the middle of the fairway throughout is very difficult. [OOGA] has done a fantastic job of maintaining its posture and significance throughout all of the different scenarios. I think any good organization is the manifestation of its leadership, and I definitely think the work that the OOGA team has done proves that out.”

As for his own participation in OOGA, he has seen the value of becoming involved early on and remaining engaged both as a committee chair and, now, as a member of the executive committee. He encourages all members to take an active role in their Association through joining committees, participating in phone calls, attending meetings and taking advantage of networking opportunities.

Moving forward, he thinks the industry needs to modernize its fundamentals in order to keep up with the rapidly changing landscape, from following new regulations to handling increased public input that is changing the way the industry operates.

“Anything we do now, it seems like there are eyes on it, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing,” he said. “It helps us be accountable to ourselves and is an opportunity for effective growth. That’s another area where OOGA has been really essential in helping all of the industry in Ohio balance it out and be the light for the path forward.”

Shortly after his spotlight interview, Ratcliffe learned that he would not need to fly to Houston after all. But if the past is a reliable indicator, he will have plenty more upcoming opportunities to travel the countryside.

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ODNR Releases Oil and Natural Gas Totals for Second Quarter 2019

Posted By Brad Miller, Monday, September 9, 2019

Ohio's horizontal shale wells produced 5,813,755 barrels of oil and 614,218,362 Mcf (614 billion cubic feet) of natural gas during the second quarter of 2019, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

That is an increase in oil production of 29.5 percent and natural gas production of 10.8 percent compared to the second quarter of a year ago.

From ODNR's press release:

The ODNR quarterly report lists 2,365 horizontal shale wells, 2,317 of which reported oil and natural gas production during the quarter. Of the wells reporting oil and natural gas results:

  • The average amount of oil produced was 2,509 barrels.
  • The average amount of natural gas produced was 265,092 Mcf.
  • The average number of second quarter days in production was 86.

A full breakdown of the report can be accessed here.

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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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Ohio Oil and Gas Association Presents the 2019 Oilfield Patriot Award

Posted By Lyndsey Kleven, Communication Manager, Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Updated: Thursday, July 18, 2019

The 2019 Oilfield Patriot Award was presented to Amanda Finn, Director—Government Relations at Ascent Resources, an annual honor bestowed by the OOGA. The award recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to protect, promote and advance the common interests of those engaged in all aspects of Ohio’s crude oil and natural gas industry.

The patriot award recognizes leadership within the Association that steps up and works for the benefit of all in this industry. OOGA President Steve Downey said that, “Amanda is a leader and patriot in that respect because of her involvement with the new and disruptive changes that are happening in our industry, and her concern that everyone who is a part of this industry benefits”. And for that reason, Finn is highly deserving of the 2019 Oilfield Patriot Award.

Finn has been with Ascent Resources for three years, working out of the Cambridge office. Prior to that she worked for Magnum Hunter Resources Corporation in government relations. Finn has an wide-ranging background in government affairs and marketing. She has been involved with the Ohio Oil and Gas Association since 2015, currently on the Association’s executive committee, board of trustees, chairs the government affairs committee, and is an active participant on the communications and regulatory committee.

When asked what the award and presentation ceremony meant to her she shared that “it is a huge privilege to be able to represent the industry as a whole in all aspects of my job.  Being added to a list of amazing recipients that have been presented this award was humbling and a highlight of my career”.

This year’s award was presented at the Summer Meeting of OOGA at the Glenmoor County Club in the Canton area. 

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OOGA Member Spotlight: Kathy Hill, Ergon

Posted By Lyndsey Kleven, Communication Manager, Wednesday, July 10, 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

Upbringing

Kathy Hill was born in Southampton, Pennsylvania outside of northeast Philadelphia. Hill attended Penn State University to study engineering, and with some influence from her school advisor, she enrolled in the petroleum engineering program. With no family ties in the oil and gas industry, this program appealed to Hill as the career opportunities were described as working both outside and in an office, which she saw as being the best of both worlds. Once in the program, the curriculum was a good fit for Hill and she enjoyed the geology, engineering, and math and science coursework.      

Industry Experience

After graduating from Penn State with a degree in petroleum engineering, Hill continued moving westward and found her first job in Belpre, Ohio working for Quaker State. Ohio would remain home as Hill continued to build her career in the oil and gas industry. Quaker State had wells in Ohio and West Virginia and Hill started in the production department. 

Her first field experience was in Ashland County, where she was assigned to the Red Haw Water Flood project, which Hill found to be a great place to start out. This was exciting because it included a comprehensive introduction to the industry. Hill found herself working with field personnel in the maintenance of injection and producing wells. She also got involved in new drilling projects and dealt with spacing producers and injection wells for good water flood flow. All of this allowed her to learn the operations of the business and see drilling projects all the way through to completion. Hill described the most interesting part of this role and time period was seeing wells being shot with nitroglycerin.

Early on Hill was faced with the ebbs and flows of the industry and found herself looking for a new position as the industry was entering a downturn. The next step for her was working for small local producers around Marietta. The following 16 years gave Hill the full experience of how oil and gas companies function. She experienced everything from oil and gas production monitoring, gas marketing nominations, workovers, drilling and completions, all the way to planning joint ventures with other companies. Hill felt it was the right time to move on just as shale drilling started happening in Ohio, thinking her employer was likely to sell to a larger company.

Ergon

Hill started working for Ergon Oil Purchasing, Inc. in 2013 as a crude buyer covering southern Ohio and areas in West Virginia. The main facets of this role are managing customer accounts including purchasing, trucking, and proper payment; all in an effort to supply Ergon’s West Virginia refinery. Hill meets with the seller and gets a list of the tanks they want hauled, assigns a tank’s number, and then goes to the site to actually strap the tank. Strapping a tank entails measuring the circumference, doing calculations to determine the volume so that they get paid correctly, and includes directions and detailed information for that tank. She will then work a number of haulers including Ergon Trucking, BD Oil Gathering, Oil Haulers, EnLink and Energy Transportation to coordinate hauling schedules.

“It is nice working for Ergon to work with producers; I get to see what they’re doing and discuss the industry,” said Hill. “I feel like I’m able to give them good service, because I understand what they’re going through since I’ve also been on that side of the business. Ergon has been a great company to work for, they treat all their employees like family.”

This role has brought Hill’s career in the oil business full-circle, from starting out on drilling projects all the way to completion, to now being on the service and purchasing end. In her role as a crude buyer she works closely with the other branches of Ergon, specifically with Ergon Trucking and Ergon Terminaling. The transitioning from many years in the production side has been an adjustment and Hill is glad to still be able to work with the same group of people and build strong relationships. Hill brings a high level of knowledge and experience in the industry that she’s able to bring to the purchasing role, if a customer is experiencing a problem she’s able to help solve it.

Ergon’s operations have continued to expand with the needs of the industry. As shale drilling started in this region, Ergon expanded from hauling PennGrade oil and now also hauls condensate. One of the greatest changes Hill has witnessed in the industry has been shale drilling, and the enormous scale of the new drilling operations from what she was previously used to.

“When I started strapping tanks for Utica shale companies, it amazed me because the service roads were extremely well done, and the tank pads are huge,” described Hill. “I was used to going for a PennGrade customer and strapping one or two tanks, now I go to these sites and there can be upwards of 14 tanks to strap.”

OOGA Involvement

Hill has been a longtime member of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, first joining when she worked at Quaker State. Over the years she’s been able to stay involved with many of the small companies she worked for. Even though the industry crosses different areas, Hill likes that it has a small community feel and that she is able to keep in touch through networking and OOGA events.

When Hill was new and just starting out in the industry, the OOGA was a huge learning tool.  The meetings and technical sessions really helped to demonstrate to her how the business fit in Ohio. In addition to OOGA events and seminars, she also mentioned how she was able to learn so much from the new people she’s met within the Association.

“The Association has helped me stay in touch with people in the industry, through my career transitions and time away while starting a family,” said Hill. “That was really important to me, I feel lucky I was able to stay employed and in touch with this group of people in the industry.”

Ergon is involved with the OOGA and Hill says the company greatly enjoys all that the Association does for its members. Ergon finds benefits in the annual events where they get to catch up with current customers, while also networking with new people and getting exposure to new customers. The Association also helps them learn about what everyone is doing in the industry and causes them to think about ways to improve the business. Hill feels that the oil and gas business has been a great industry for her to build her career within.

Tags:  Ergon  oil and gas  OOGA 

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