Read this piece by Texas Monthly on a few young oil executives.
My favorite quote about the oil business?
“If you want to throw darts at us, that’s fine,” he said. “But those darts are made out of plastic and steel, and you don’t get that without oil and gas.”
It’s honestly refreshing to read about another oil apologist. 🤣
Don’t miss reading The Big Rich, By: Bryan Burrough.
If they worked in the tech industry, no one would bat an eye at their ages—they might not even be considered young. But most CEOs of Texas-based oil companies are in their sixth decade or beyond. Even more notable is the youthfulness of the two hundred employees Hickey and Walter have assembled. “I’m probably one of the more seasoned people here,” said Matt Garrison, the company’s COO, “at the ripe old age of forty-one.”
The emergence of an oil company staffed by millennial and Gen Z workers is all the more remarkable because many of their peers have turned away from careers in fossil fuels. At Texas A&M University, in College Station, the number of Aggies majoring in petroleum engineering last fall was 418—down from 755 four years earlier, despite higher oil prices, which have historically attracted more students. A few years ago, when today’s college students were teenagers, global consulting firm EY surveyed them about careers in oil and gas. Nearly two out of three said the industry was unappealing, with more than one in three describing it as very unappealing.
Last year the University of Houston surveyed its students and found they were twice as likely to want to work for a renewable-energy company as for an oil company offering a higher salary. If the U.S. oil industry is to remain vital, it could use a youth movement like the one at Permian Resources.
After college Hickey went to work for Irving-based Pioneer Natural Resources and then the Dallas office of EnCap Investments, a Houston-based private-equity company that provided funding for oil and gas companies. Walter was in Houston, working at Denham Capital, where his job involved financing energy projects in West Texas. They stayed in touch and, in 2015, Walter concocted a reason to visit EnCap in Dallas. He popped his head into Hickey’s office, and soon they were talking about starting their own company. They got so excited that Hickey worried his coworkers would overhear him. “You told me to keep my voice down,” Walter says to his friend as they recount the story. Over the next few weeks, they developed their business plan, which began with a simple first step. “Move out to Midland and really kind of figure out what to do,” Hickey says.
Billy Quinn, the then 45-year-old founder and managing partner of Pearl Energy Investments, was their first backer, initially providing $75 million. (Nearly $200 million came later from Quinn and others.) “We love their energy. We love their ambition. We love their intellectual honesty,” he told me. It didn’t hurt, he added, that “they were surprisingly mature.”
Thirty-two-year-old Michael McNamara, a petroleum engineer who works on corporate strategy at Permian Resources, characterizes their work as a noble pursuit. “If you want to throw darts at us, that’s fine,” he said. “But those darts are made out of plastic and steel, and you don’t get that without oil and gas.”
Their vision of a sustainable future doesn’t involve a transition by Permian Resources into building solar farms. That’s not what their investors want. Hickey and Walter are mindful of lessening their environmental impact by reducing flaring and trying to eliminate spills, but they are still going to pump oil. The sustainability that most interests them is building a long-lasting business. Fossil fuels, Walter says, are “something that is going to be here for a long time.” Maybe long enough for a thirtysomething to enjoy a decades-long career before a comfortable retirement.