Danny Campbell, President of Henry Resources, who became chairman-elect of the PBPA in January, has tracked a career that has shown him all sides of the oil and gas business.
By Al Pickett, special contributor
Even R. Danny Campbell admits that his career has in many ways mirrored the oil and gas industry in the Permian Basin—filled with ups and downs as well as lots of changes, consolidations, and successes.
Campbell, who officially became chairman-elect of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association in January (he’ll become chairman after Steve Pruett finishes his own chairmanship) after serving as a vice president at large on the PBPA Board of Directors, didn’t grow up in West Texas. But, as the old saying goes, he got here as fast as he could—and he hasn’t left.
Campbell said he grew up in the southeastern part of the United States in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi. He went to junior college in Mississippi and then earned a B.S. degree in petroleum engineering from Louisiana State University.
He landed his first job in the industry with ARCO in the Permian Basin, where he worked until 1993. Campbell left ARCO to join Parker & Parsley, which is now known as Pioneer Natural Resources Company.
“Then they left and went to Las Colinas,” he recalled. “I stayed here as VP Business Development Permian to help with the transition, and then I went to Chase Bank as an energy adviser and got into lending, too.”
But Chase Bank sold their Midland and Odessa banks to American State Bank and Wells Fargo, so Campbell returned to the oil and gas industry with CMS Oil and Gas as General Manager of the Permian Basin.
CMS then sold, however, and Campbell returned to the banking business, heading up the energy department for Community National Bank for five years from 2002 to 2007.
“Early in 2007, Jim [Henry] and Ronnie Scott asked me to come on as vice president of Business Development and exploration for Henry Petroleum,” he continued. “Dennis Johnson had left to found Summit Petroleum, and Ronnie Scott had moved up to president.”
Henry sold Henry Petroleum to Concho Resources, Inc., in 2008, but Campbell stayed on as vice president of investments to the Henry Family and vice president of business development for the newly formed Henry Resources. In 2012, Campbell was promoted to president of Henry Resources.
“Eighty people went to Concho, and 23 stayed to re-form Henry Resources,” he recalled. “We looked at various scenarios to see what was best long-term for the Henry Family and the company. Selling to Concho was a great fit. It was good for everybody—a win-win.”
Henry, of course, is considered the father of the Wolfberry play—the vertical drilling of the Spraberry and Wolfcamp formations, as well as other numerous deeper zones, and then separately fracturing the multiple zones and commingling them. The Wolfberry play, along with stable crude oil prices, is credited with sparking the boom that the Permian Basin has enjoyed for the last decade.
But now, like much of the industry, Henry Resources, the pioneer of the vertical Wolfberry play, has turned the drill bit on its side and has started to test horizontal drilling in the Wolfcamp, according to Campbell.
“We spudded our first horizontal well in December in the Wolfcamp B zone on the Bohannon lease on the north end of the Midland Basin,” he explained. “The lease is in Andrews County, but it’s right where Andrews, Martin, Ector, and Midland counties come together. There is still a lot of oil in the ground, and the industry has figured out how to improve recovery. We are fortunate that a lot of our team [at Henry Resources] has many years of experience in the Permian Basin and some horizontal experience. They have just not drilled horizontal wells with Henry. We are now trying to get back up to speed.”
Campbell said Henry Resources plans to drill a “half dozen to a dozen [horizontal] wells over the next two to three years.” Most of the company’s acreage, located west of Midland, is locked up, he pointed out, and is prospective to the Wolfcamp A and B zones. He added that Henry Resources will closely monitor public companies, such as Pioneer, Oxy, and Diamondback E&P, LLC, who have been at the forefront of the move to horizontal drilling in the Permian Basin.
While Campbell looks forward to the new horizontal drilling plans for Henry Resources, he also knows he and his PBPA peers will be facing a number of challenges over the next two years as he fills the role of chairman-elect. In January, Campbell also began his duties as chairman of the Nominations Committee.
“There will be a number of regulatory issues from the EPA [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] and the Texas Railroad Commission,” he remarked. “We will face environmental issues, including the Endangered Species Act.”
The Lesser Prairie Chicken and the Sand Dunes Lizard are among the species that environmental groups claim they are trying to protect, an effort that could greatly impact not only the oil and gas industry but also the agriculture industry in West Texas and southeastern New Mexico.
“There is a bigger species—humans,” Campbell countered. “We are trying to help the human race survive. Some of the scientific data [related to the so-called endangered species] have been misstated. The natural climate-change cycle causes species to move around, as well as expand or contract.”
Hydraulic fracturing, or frac’ing as it is commonly termed, is not understood by most of the public and some regulatory groups, he added.
“We are fortunate that the Railroad Commission in Texas has taken an active role in protecting fresh water,” Campbell emphasized. “The strength of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association is the independents. Our role is helping provide the right data and scientific information to legislators and the regulatory bodies. We are fortunate that we have a very active board whose members are true independents and are very involved.”
While the PBPA will focus on regulatory and legislature issues, it will support the Independent Petroleum Association of America [IPAA] and other national organizations in taking on federal tax-related issues, according to Campbell.
“As oil prices move up and down, you will see this area expand and slow down,” he offered. “If oil prices stay in the $90 to $100 range, so much known oil is in the ground in the Permian and Delaware basins, that the industry will continue to find ways to economically get it out of the ground.”