The Greeley Tribune
Frank Ingriselli is expecting his company Pacific Energy Development to become a major player in the Niobrara play in Weld and Morgan counties.
The president and CEO isn’t wasting any time moving in that direction either.
His company recently bought an interest in 40 wells and approximately 28,000 net acres in the Denver-Julesburg Basin, including 2,200 acres in the Wattenberg Field.
If Pacific Energy Development becomes that major player, it will be through the direction and leadership of an oil and gas executive who honed his skills overseas in places like China and Russia – not in the U.S.
Ingriselli was born and raised in the world’s greatest, cultural melting pot, New York City.
He grew up “street smart” but also with an appreciation for the cultural arts that only the Big Apple can present to a young person.
“It was very exciting,” Ingriselli admits. “I had a lot of opportunities to go to the theater, museums, and nice restaurants.
“(The experience) made me more streetwise than other people I came across later in my career but it also exposed me to more cultural things.”
Ingriselli would fall back on those experiences later in life.
But, first, he had to figure out what he wanted to do for a career.
“I liked business so I went to Boston University,” Ingriselli said. He eventually graduated with a business degree from Boston University in 1975 and then earned an MBA from New York University in 1977.
“I liked the investment market and thought at one point that I would be a stockbroker,” he said. “But, I changed my mind and decided to go to law school.”
Two years later, Ingriselli graduated with a juris doctorate from Fordham University.
“I think the law degree and the MBA put me in an advantageous position,” he said. “I know I was prepared for both sides of business – the business side and the risk side.”
Any further thoughts about being a stock broker quickly evaporated after Texaco officials visited Fordham and interviewed Ingriselli in 1979 about a position in its legal department.
“Their world headquarters at that time was nearby in White Plains, N.Y.,” Ingriselli said. “That was good for me. But, what was really attractive was what they told me. They said I had an MBA and saw that I had studied abroad in Paris. They like that international experience. They said if I came to work for them that I would be working on contracts and traveling between one-third to 50 percent of the time. I really liked that.
“I took the job and never looked back.”
Ingriselli’s career with Texaco began in 1979 and for four years he was heavily involved in negotiations with China. That culminated in 1983 with the first successful international oil production sharing contract with China.
“That experience was invaluable,” Ingriselli said. “There I was four years out of college in the same room with the prime minister of China, the chairman of Texaco and the chairman of Chevron watching them sign this historical contract.”
Under Ingriselli’s leadership, Texaco discovered the Block 16/08 oil field in the Pearl River Mouth Basin in the South China Sea. The contract today is still producing some 80,000 barrels of oil per day for the citizens of China, generating substantial revenue for China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) and Chevron.
In 1992, Ingriselli was named president of Texaco International Operations Inc., a capacity that directed Texaco’s global initiatives in exploration and development. In 1996, he was appointed president and CEO of the Timan Pechora Company, a Houston-headquartered company owned by affiliates of Texaco, Exxon, Amoco, Norsk Hydro, and Lukoil, which was developing one of the largest international investments in Russia at that time.
In 1998, Ingriselli returned to Texaco’s Executive Department with responsibilities for Texaco’s power and gas operations, merger and acquisition activities, pipeline operations and corporate development. In 2000, Ingriselli was appointed president of Texaco Technology Ventures, responsible for all of Texaco’s global technology initiatives and investments. In 2001, Ingriselli retired from Texaco after its merger with Chevron.
In 2005, Ingriselli and a group of Texaco alumni founded Pacific Asia Petroleum, Inc., a New York-based energy company with operations in China.
In 2010, Pacific Asia Petroleum expanded outside the Pacific Rim into West Africa by acquiring an interest in a Production Sharing Contract in offshore Nigeria. Upon conclusion of this acquisition, the company changed its name from Pacific Asia Petroleum Inc. to CAMAC Energy Inc.
Until end of 2010, Ingriselli served as the president, CEO and a member of CAMAC Energy’s board of directors.
In 2011, Ingriselli founded Pacific Energy Development, an energy company focused on acquisition and development of high growth energy projects, including shale oil and gas assets, in the United States and Asia. The company became public in 2012 and has presence in some of the most promising unconventional resources plays throughout the United States. Principal assets include its Niobrara asset in the DJ Basin in Colorado, Mississippian asset in Kansas, and Eagle Ford asset in McMullen County, Texas.
Ingriselli is currently the president and CEO of Pacific Energy Development, headquartered in Danville, Calif.
Ingriselli recently talked with Energy Pipeline about his extensive career overseas and his “new” career in the shale play operations in Colorado and Kansas.
Energy Pipeline: You spent roughly your first 26 years working in a number of executive capacities for Texaco, one of the world’s largest oil companies. What was your most proud and/or satisfying moment during that time?
Frank Ingriselli: I think I’ll pick two occasions. The first, obviously, was signing the first contract with the People’s Republic of China in 1983. That was truly one of the high points of my career.
Second, was the conclusion of a very important contract in western Siberia with Russia in 1993. We closed and signed that in Washington, D.C., at the White House. It was a very complex and unique deal. It took over a year to do.
EP: What did you learn in those years and how did it prepare you to go out on your own in 2005 and form Pacific Asia Petroleum (PAP)?
FI: One thing I learned early on was that this is a global economy. You can’t be an American doing work abroad. We are globalists. We need to understand things from a cultural perspective in places like China, Russia and Nigeria. What is their perspective?
You need to learn how to respect their culture and do a deal that takes into consideration what is important to each side.
I also met a lot of people. I made a lot of relationships in my 24-year career and many of those people went on to become captains of industry in China. It afforded me some interesting opportunities. They knew me and I respected them and their culture. I was able to leverage that.
EP: What eventually led you to decide in 2010 to leave PAP and form a new company, Pacific Energy Development?
FI: What happened in 2010 was that we were still in the middle of a worldwide crisis and we needed capital. Making some cash was still two years away.
So we were looking at ways to get cash. I happened to run into someone I had met once who owned CAMAC, a very large oil field in deep water in Nigeria. To make my company exist, I needed to jumpstart it. So, I purchased the Nigerian asset in all stock (and some cash). But, as a result, I had to give away 62 percent of my company.
But, it worked and I was able to give back 500 to 1,000 percent return to my investors. So, I retired for about six to nine months.
Then I decided to get back to work with friends of mine in China. A good friend, Ruilin Zhang, the chairman and CEO of MIE Holdings, told me he was interested in the whole shale revolution that was occurring in the U.S.
He wanted me to come into his company in China. He had a keen interest in shale. He asked me to find good assets in the U.S. to purchase. I visited him in China and told him I was going to start my own company and even had a name for it. I told him “you put in some money and I’ll put in some money’”and we’ll focus on shale interests in the U.S. together.
That was three and a half years ago.
EP: In information on your website, it says that Pacific Energy Development is focused on oil and gas plays in shale formations in Colorado, Texas and Mississippi. Why is that, since much of your experience over the years has been in Asia (China, Russia, and Kazakhstan)?
FI: It’s partly driven by two things: my visit with Zhang and moving to China. We talked about what’s occurring in the U.S. I became keenly interested (in shale oil production) when I saw that it was happening right in my backyard.
I said “You know what, let’s take our skill sets and develop in the U.S.” I guess I’ve always wanted to do that my whole life.
I remember back in 1972 all the long gas lines at gas stations. The U.S. was really suffering, depending on foreign oil. I never thought that someday we’d be on the path to being energy self-sufficient.
EP: In a press release in early April, you were quoted as saying that you were preparing to “carry out an aggressive drilling program for 2014 and beyond” in the Niobrara. Can you elaborate a little on that and let our Weld County residents know what’s coming?
FI: We plan for this year … to have 11 wells in 2014. We would try to drill more but we need to get the permits first. We have about five in the Niobrara. We’re trying to get permits on other acreages in June or so. So August through the end of the year, we should have 11 wells. I’m very excited about that. We’ll also have three wells in Kansas – in the Mississippian asset. But, our main thrust is in the Niobrara in Weld County.
EP: If drilling operations in 2014 are successful, will Pacific Energy Development be looking to expand its leases and number of wells in Colorado in the future?
FI: Sure. When you get a competitive advantage, you expand. Our first well cost us just $4 million. It was the fastest drill to production we’ve ever done. It was low cost and had great results. If you feel you have great acreage, then you look for more good acreage. I’m bullish on Colorado, Weld County, and the Niobrara play. We’re always looking to add to our portfolio. Right now we have the ability to participate in over 2,000 wells.
EP: Now that oil and gas operations in shale formations are really taking off in the U.S., will your company seek similar opportunities in other countries? If so, what countries might offer you the best opportunities?
FI: The most natural would be in places like China. My background and relationships should really help that.
China’s also sitting on the largest shale oil deposits in the world. They are just beginning to open up that industry.
They recently opened it up to bidding. The first round of bidding went to Chinese companies. The second round of bidding went to Chinese companies and their partners. We were advisers to some of those companies but we were not successful.
We’ll try again. It’s still out there. We’re still partners with MIE in China.
The interesting thing about shale oil in China is that it’s shale gas, not shale oil. Their shale doesn’t have too much liquid.
EP: We ask this question a lot: How important is the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing for your company and oil and gas operations in the U.S.?
FI: It’s a very important commercial factor in shale plays we’re into. It allows you to produce enough oil to pay for the cost. It also allows you to drill horizontally and stay in the zone. Everything in the U.S. is drilled that way today.
EP: The U.S. oil and gas industry seems to be booming these days. Where do you see the industry in 20 years?
FI: I think we will continue on the curve you see now … explosive growth. I do believe we’ll see legislation to drive safety in fracturing. But, that’s good for the industry. We want to have good operations and protect the environment. I think we’ll also see tremendous job growth. This is real exciting … this is a boom. I think the industry will flourish.
EP: You are the founder and former president of Brightening Lives Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to reducing poverty and injustice; advancing human achievement; promoting global health, education, peace and sustainability of the environment. How did that come about and why? Can you give an example of how that works.
FI: I have been blessed in my life with good health, wonderful children, and blessed with Texaco in my career. I did well for my stockholders and myself.
I just believe that you need to give back in some way directly for health.
Once, I sent my son to China to see if there was some way we could help. He came back and told me that thousands of people were going blind from cataracts. A simple procedure could save their sight. So, we founded an organization to save people’s sight. I donated a lot of stock to that organization.
It gives me a great sense of pride to give back.