[Editor's note: A version of this story appears in the June 2018 edition of Oil and Gas Investor. Subscribe to the magazine here.]
Jeffrey T. Beard started his career in oil and gas 15 years ago at CrownQuest Operating LLC in Midland, Texas. Today, he stands as land manager at the company and executive vice president of CrownRock Minerals LP, CrownQuest’s mineral buying arm.
Born in Houston, but raised in Midland, Beard grew up around the industry. His father and brothers are engineers. He graduated in 2003 from McMurry University in Abilene, Texas, where he played baseball while earning a business degree.
Beard assumed he would enter into a different industry after graduation but an opportunity came knocking. He received a call from CrownQuest CEO Tim Dunn inviting him to talk to the company’s president, Bobby Floyd, about working in CrownQuest’s mineral business it was starting.
Beard began work as a landman for CrownQuest, acquiring mineral rights in the Permian Basin. He was then promoted to land manager in 2011 and, in 2016, named executive vice president of CrownRock Minerals at its inception.
Beard is a certified professional landman and a member of the American Association of Professional Landmen and has served on its next-generation landman committee as well as the millennial task force. He is also a member of the Permian Basin Landman Association. He serves as vice president of the board of directors at Midland Memorial Hospital, and is on the board of trustees for Midland Classical Academy.
In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family and renovating homes.
Investor: As the land manager at CrownQuest, what are your responsibilities?
Beard: We have just over 93,000 net acres that we operate in the Wolfcamp—so Midland, Martin, Howard, Glasscock and Upton is principally where that acreage is. We have an additional 100,000 acres over on the eastern shelf and then there's a several thousand acre footprint on the Central Basin Platform. We also have several thousand acres over in New Mexico in the San Juan Basin. As land manager, I’m overseeing the day-to-day operations, making sure our title’s cleared, locations are ready and rights-of-way are bought so that the drilling engineers and completion engineers have the ability to get in there and do their jobs.
Investor: Where are CrownQuest primary targets?
Beard: The majority of our budget is the Permian. All of our current drilling activity is Permian. We started putting the position together in ‘07 and up until about ‘14, we were principally drilling vertical wells. And then in ‘14, prices collapsed; the world kind of changes around us. We were not fully HBP, so we’ve continued to drill vertical wells to secure our position and then also started our horizontal program. The majority of our budget today is horizontal Wolfcamp-Midland Basin wells.
Investor: How did CrownRock Minerals come about?
Beard: In 2003, whenever I started, they hired me to do minerals, so from 2003 to 2007, my day-to-day job was buying minerals. Then in 2007, we decided that because of some of the results that we had seen on some of the minerals that we bought in the Midland Basin, we got intrigued with the vertical Wolfberry play. So we transitioned from not only buying minerals in the Midland Basin side, but also going in and leasing.
There was never really a model that we saw that made sense for minerals and private equity. On the mineral side, it was always a difficult deal we thought, and so we had talked to Lime Rock [Partners] over a couple of years about the idea of a mineral fund.
With the horizontal results, it became intriguing to get some additional funding so that we could enhance our mineral program. [We] got additional funding from Lime Rock and co-investors and did a $400 million fund to buy minerals. Within that first year, we actually upsized the fund and added another $300 million.
Investor: Any challenges in the minerals business?
Beard: Our way of buying minerals is relationship driven. It’s people that we’ve known for a long time or that we’ve done work with over time. As some of these mineral owners are getting to different life stages, they want to plan different things—right now if they’ve owned minerals for 100 years or 50 years, they’re seeing numbers now that they never could have imagined that it’s worth. There’s some ability to take some money off the table and be able to do things with it today. The minerals game is kind of a long game.
The challenge is figuring out what is the deal that makes sense for the seller. So it’s about sitting down with the person and understanding what kind of deal it is that they want, and then tailoring the deal to fit their needs, and also obviously fit ours as well.
Investor: Who were your mentors throughout your career?
Beard: My mom and dad were a huge influence on what I am today. I had a hard time with elementary school. I was always behind in my education, just couldn’t get it—but the love and perseverance they had to stick with me and teach me what hard work looked like got me through. So my parents obviously had a huge, huge role in that.
Outside of them, Tim Dunn and the Dunn family. I grew up around the Dunns and just seeing the model of a family that they had and how he thought about things and understands things always challenged me.
Tim Leach [CEO of Concho Resources Inc. (NSYE: CXO)] is another one. I spent some summers with him and his family. Being able to spend time with him, asks questions, and then see a great role model and thinker was invaluable. He was also a big factor in kind of how I think about not just work, but life too.
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