[Editor's note: A version of this story appears in the September 2018 edition of Oil and Gas Investor. Subscribe to the magazine here.]

Denver native Brian Reger graduated from the University of Michigan in 2005 with a bachelor’s in chemical engineering and didn’t think oil and gas was right for him.

“I had a vision in my mind that the oil and gas industry was working at a refinery in Houston, and I knew that was not what I wanted to do,” he said.

Reger took an interest in the operations side of the upstream sector when an opportunity came along through a family friend to work at Haliburton Energy Services in Rock Springs, Wyo. He worked long hours as an engineer on frack sites, learning the ins and outs of the industry he grew to love. He was able to learn the technical aspects of hydraulic fracturing and participate in numerous pilot programs.

He later moved on to Forest Oil Corp. (now Sabine Oil & Gas Corp.) in 2008 where he spent almost seven years. He held several positions such as production engineer, reservoir engineer, team lead and Midcontinent reservoir engineer manager, working assets in Arkansas, East Texas, North Louisiana, the Texas Panhandle and the Rockies.

He also spent a year at Emerald Oil Inc. as a senior reservoir engineer working the Bakken Shale and Three Forks. He then joined the Jonah Energy LLC team in 2016 as manager of business development.

Today, Reger is the manager of reservoir engineering at Jonah Energy where his primary focus is to understand well performance, predicting existing wells and guiding the company’s drilling program. Reger holds an MBA from the University of Denver and enjoys the outdoors and spending time with his family.

Investor: What do you enjoy about your role as manager of reservoir engineering?

Reger: What Jonah has been doing seems like it is pretty simple; just go poke a bunch of vertical holes in the ground. But I have very much come to appreciate the challenges that come along with that as we’re drilling tightly spaced vertical wells and trying to understand the interactions between those and how a slight change in orientation or well placement can have a pretty big impact on performance. That’s an exciting and fun challenge to have.

Investor: Last year Jonah acquired assets in Jonah Field from Linn Energy. Were you involved?

Reger: I had a lot of involvement in that. At the time I was the manager of business development. I built the deal model and did a lot of work on the evaluation side—building out full development plans and the underwriting of the asset. Once that was successful and as we were negotiating the PSA, then I became very involved in the diligence, looking at value allocations and things of that nature.

I was appointed to be the lead of the transition team as we got the asset in-house and during the period that we were working side-by-side with Linn to get accounting and production systems up and running. All of those near-term transition items.

Investor: Any takeaways you’ve learned from that experience?

Reger: It’s been a very good learning experience to be a part of the full cycle from an initial evaluation or understanding of what the value of the asset might be all the way to now executing on that and drilling the wells. There were a number of challenges along the way. It was great to work with Linn because they had done so many transactions previously that they were able to help us, especially during the transition period. That was extremely useful.

Investor: Can you discuss the normally pressured Lance area?

Reger: This is a largely undeveloped asset that’s directly adjacent to Jonah Field. It consists of about 140,000 acres or roughly four times larger than our Jonah/Pinedale acreage position. A major reason why it’s largely undeveloped is because it’s been in an EIS (environmental impact statement) or environmental review for around a decade at this point. That is now coming to an end; the final EIS just came out a couple of weeks ago and the final record of decision is anticipated in the next few weeks.

It’s very exciting for us to have this large undeveloped acreage directly next to our current operations. There are a number of different horizons that we view as perspective, many of which we don’t view as being normally pressured and are similarly overpressured to what we have in Jonah Field. So there’s a whole bunch of opportunity there that we’re excited to be able to finally go out and create value.

Investor: What is Jonah Energy’s strategy in the coming years?

Reger: I think in the near term between the combination of the Linn acquisition, having access to the NPL area and the development of some horizontal opportunities, we see a lot of room for organic value creation within our existing assets and that’s definitely where we’re focused today.

But our vision as a company has always been to be a successful acquisition and development company and so we are always mindful of what opportunities are out there. We want to be consistently identifying and executing on acquisitions both within Wyoming and other basins that fit our strategy and add value to the company.

Brandy Fidler can be reached at bfidler@hartenergy.com.