Growing up around geologists and geophysicists developed Kyle Johns’ love for the oil and gas business. When he was a child, his father, Randy Johns, a 44-year veteran in the seismic industry, would take him on weekend hunts with his clients. He also got the opportunity to sit in on meetings and learned the art of negotiation at a young age.

A native of Hazlehurst, Miss., Johns graduated with a degree in geology from the University of Mississippi. He began his career at Denbury Resources Inc. in 2005 as a geologist where he worked on conventional assets and the Barnett Shale.

After Denbury sold its Barnett assets, Johns joined small, E&P start-up Citrus Energy in 2009 as senior geologist covering the Appalachian Basin.

In 2012, he founded his own consulting firm, Shale Oil and Gas LLC, where he helps companies enter into a deal or new area/plays, then operationally growing that asset. One of Johns’ great successes was getting Contango Oil & Gas Co. into the Permian Basin.

Now, as senior geologist at Contango Oil & Gas, his main focus is handling all of the geo operations related to the company’s Permian project, Bullseye, and looking for ways to expand or grow it. He is constantly searching for potential new deals or areas to pursue for the company.

When Johns is not on the hunt for oil and gas, he enjoys spending time outdoors with his family.

Investor How did you get started in the oil and gas industry?

Johns My father, Randy Johns, is a veteran in the seismic industry. As a young child he always included me in weekend hunts with his clients. I could only wish to have the network and respect that he has created for himself when I’m his age.

I must credit my career to Jim Sinclair. He took a chance on a fresh-out-of-school Ole Miss graduate and hired me at Denbury Resources. He taught me all of my conventional exploration knowledge.

Investor What basins have you worked, and which do you find the most interesting?

Johns I’ve worked the Louisiana-Mississippi Salt Basin, Black Warrior Basin, Fort Worth Basin, Appalachian Basin, Power River Basin and Permian Basin. I find the Permian (specifically the Delaware side) to be the most intriguing. It changes so rapidly in a short distance and every well seems to have a story of its own.

Investor You worked in both conventional and unconventional; which do you prefer? Are there still opportunities in conventional?

Johns I prefer unconventional plays, but that’s probably because 80% of my career has been focused on it. While I do like exploration and generating, I truly have a passion for the development and almost farming-type approach in the unconventional plays.

I do think there’s great potential in conventional. There are areas in Mississippi and Louisiana that are underexplored and with the new technology we have access to, it could really help bring those areas back to life.

Investor How did you get Contango into the Permian Basin?

Johns Jim Sinclair and I were at NAPE and started a discussion about a position in the southern Delaware Basin that he represented. Contango had been looking for an entry into the Permian and I knew this was exactly what we were looking for. He and I discussed a preliminary deal structure and once Contango’s board signed off on it, we were off to the races.

Investor What is Contango’s key focus?

Johns Contango’s primary focus is on the development of our southern Delaware Basin asset (Project Bullseye). For the past 18 months, we have been drilling with one rig testing our acreage position.

Investor What is Contango’s strategy for 2018?

Johns For 2018, we plan to continue with our one rig, but at some point would like to bring in an additional rig to accelerate development in our Project Bullseye. We also are continuously looking to expand our position in the Southern Delaware Basin.

Investor Who are your mentors?

Johns Brad Juneau (founder of Juneau Exploration LP)—his no nonsense deal negotiations are something this industry lacks in today’s time. A handshake and trust was all it took to get a deal done with Brad’s leadership.

Second, but certainly not least, is Randy Holt, COO of CP Exploration. I’ve worked more than half my career under some form of leadership from Randy. The patience he showed with us young guys trying to find our place and where we could prove our value was second to none. One thing I’ve always carried with me from watching Randy’s leadership was the level of respect he showed every person. From CEO to roustabout, they were treated with the same level of respect. When facing a difficult situation, I find myself asking, “How would Mr. Randy handle this?” He is the true definition of a mentor and leader.