Below is a roundup of notable moves and promotions in the energy industry within the past week including the departure of Chesapeake Energy CEO Doug Lawler and Schlumberger’s appointment of former Ørsted Wind Power CEO Samuel Leupold to its board to boost its new energy initiative. 

Abraxas Petroleum

On April 26, Todd Dittmann tendered a letter of resignation to the board of directors of Abraxas Petroleum Corp., in which he resigned from his position on the board.

Dittmann is an executive of AG Energy Funding LLC (AGEF), an affiliate of the second lien lender, and was appointed to the Abraxas board in August 2020 as AGEF’s designee, pursuant to that governance agreement by and between the company and AGEF.  According to an April 29 filing, Dittmann’s resignation, pursuant to the terms of the governance agreement, is effective April 26.

As  set forth in its most recent Schedule 13D filing,  Angelo, Gordon & Co. LP beneficially owns about 1.7 million shares, or approximately 16.6%  of the company’s outstanding shares, through a currently unexercised warrant. 

Dittmann resigned from the board as a result Abraxas Petroleum entering into a forbearance agreement in respect to the company’s first and second lien credit facilities on April 28.

Abraxas Petroleum  is a publicly traded independent E&P company founded in 1977 and based in San Antonio. The company focuses primarily on the development of conventional and unconventional resources in its primary operating areas in the Rocky Mountains, South Texas, Powder River Basin and Permian Basin, according to its website.

Battalion Oil

Chairman of Battalion Oil Corp., William T. Transier, has announced his intention to resign from the company’s board of directors, according to a filing on April 23.

Transier, who has served as chairman of the Battalion board since October 2019, submitted his letter of resignation and that said he does not intend to stand for re-election at the upcoming annual meeting in June.

Additionally, Scott H. Germann also notified Battalion he plans to step down from the board of directors. Germann currently serves as chair of the compensation committee and member of the reserves and audit committees.

Battalion has begun the process of identifying suitable board candidates to fill the resulting vacancies on the board. The decision by Transier and Germann not to stand for re-election is not the result of a disagreement with Battalion or any of its subsidiaries on any matter relating to the company’s operations, policies or practices, the filing said.

Based in Houston, Battalion Oil is an independent E&P company formerly known as Halcón Resources. Currently, Battalion is focused on the acquisition, production, exploration and development of liquids-rich assets in the Delaware Basin of the Permian, the company’s website said.

Chesapeake Energy

Chesapeake Energy Corp. on April 27 announced the departure of its CEO, Doug Lawler, and tapped Mike Wichterich to lead the company in the interim.

Lawler had served as president, CEO and as a director on the Chesapeake board since June 2013.

In a statement commenting on Lawler’s departure, Wichterich said: “On behalf of the board of directors, Chesapeake’s employees and its shareholders, I would like to thank Doug for the vision and leadership he provided for the past 8 years. He guided Chesapeake through a difficult period, repositioned Chesapeake’s portfolio of assets, and built a corporate culture which will serve as a platform for future success.”

Lawler’s departure as CEO of Chesapeake will take effect April 30. While the board of directors conducts a search for his replacement, Wichterich, currently chairman of the Chesapeake board of directors, will serve as interim CEO.

In the company release, Chesapeake said it expects to complete its search for a new CEO over the coming months. During that period, Matt Gallagher, the former CEO of Parsley Energy who currently chairs Chesapeake’s nominating and governance committee, will serve as lead independent director.

Wichterich intends to continue in his role as chair of the Chesapeake board following the appointment of the company’s new CEO.

Contango Oil & Gas

Contango Oil & Gas Co. appointed two new directors, Karen Simon and Janet Pasque, to its board of directors on April 29, who the Fort Worth, Texas-based independent says will foster its drive to be a market leader in ESG initiatives.

Simon, who retired from JPMorgan in 2019 following a 26-year banking career, brings extensive experience in investment banking and corporate finance, particularly in capital markets and private equity, to the Contango board.

She is set to chair a new committee formed by Contango as part of its current ESG initiatives that will focus on oil and gas production that is safe and environmentally and socially responsible while delivering long-term value for the company’s shareholders. Contango also said in its April 29 release it had formed an internal committee to establish a framework for the company’s ESG initiatives.

In addition to chairing the Contango board’s new committee, Simon will also serve as a member of the audit and nominating committees. Meanwhile, Pasque will serve as a member of the compensation and nominating committees.

The appointments of Simon and Pasquer, which were effective immediately, grow the number of directors serving on the Contango board to seven, five of whom are independent, according to the company release.

Contango Oil & Gas currently operates oil and gas properties properties offshore, in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and onshore as well, in Texas, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Louisiana.

Data Gumbo

Data Gumbo expanded its executive team with the addition of Robin Macmillan as chief corporate development officer, the Houston-based energy tech company said in an April 20 release.

Macmillan joins Data Gumbo with a 40+ year career in energy with the last 12 years as vice president and senior vice president for business development at National Oilwell Varco, a worldwide provider—now named NOV Inc.—of equipment and services to the upstream oil and gas industry.

DataGumbo provides the oil and gas industry with a transactional network to automate contracts through GumboNet, an interconnected blockchain network. The company has subsidiary offices in Stavanger, Norway and London and announced plans late last year to open offices in Latin America and the Middle East.


Denbury Inc. tapped Nikulas Wood to head the Plano, Texas-based independent energy company’s Denbury Carbon Solutions team formed early last year in anticipation of high-growth from its carbon capture business.

In his new role as senior vice president of the Denbury Carbon Solutions team, Wood will report directly to Denbury CEO Chris Kendall.

For over two decades, Denbury has maintained a unique strategic focus on utilizing CO₂ in its EOR operations and since 2013 has been active in carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) through the injection of captured industrial-sourced CO₂ in the Gulf Coast and Rocky Mountain regions where its operations are focused.

Empire Petroleum 

In accordance with the securities purchase agreement, effective as of April 28, Empire Petroleum Corp. increased the number of members serving on the board of directors from three to four, and appointed Mason Matchske to serve on the board to fill the newly created vacancy until the next annual election of the board of directors and until his successor is duly elected and qualifies, unless he earlier dies, resigns or is removed, the company said in a April 29 filing.

Matschke has 35 years of experience focused on portfolio management and research  across multiple  sectors. He also has a deep background as a derivatives strategist and in commodity and equity trading, and during the past several years has conducted thematic research focused on renewables, battery storage, wind, solar as well as traditional oil and gas companies.

From 2007 through 2020, Matschke served as a senior vice president of investments at Raymond James.  Prior to Raymond James, he served as a senior vice president with Jefferies and UBS.

Empire Petroleum is a conventional oil and natural gas producer based in Tulsa, Okla. The company possesses long-life, low operational cost, mature, producing assets with slow decline profiles in the Bakken region and central Gulf Coast region, in the states of North Dakota, Montana, Louisiana and Texas, according to its website.

EPIC Midstream

EPIC Midstream Holdings LP on April 28 named George Millas as chief commercial officer, who will join the San Antonio-based pipeline company from Energy Transfer LP.

As part of his appointment, which took effect April 19, he will report directly to the company’s CEO, Brian Feed.

EPIC, a portfolio company of Ares Management Corp., was formed in 2017 to build, own and operate midstream infrastructure in both the Permian and Eagle Ford Shale basins. The company operates the EPIC Crude Oil Pipeline and the EPIC NGL Pipeline that span approximately 700-miles servicing the Delaware, Midland and Eagle Ford basins.

Falcon Minerals

On April 20, Eric Liaw resigned as a member of the board of directors of Falcon Minerals Corp. Liaw’s resignation was not the result of a disagreement with the company or its management, according to a filing on April 23.

In accordance with its rights under certain shareholders’ agreement, Blackstone Management Partners LLC appointed Erik C. Belz to the board to fill the vacancy created by Liaw’s resignation. Belz has been appointed as the Chairman of the board’s compensation committee.

Belz is a managing director in the private equity group at Blackstone. Since joining Blackstone in 2014, he has focused on investments in the upstream and midstream energy sectors and has been involved in Blackstone’s investments in EagleClaw Midstream Ventures, Guidon Energy, Swallowtail Royalties, Waterfield Midstream, Huntley & Huntley, Jetta Permian, Primexx Energy Partners, Rock Ridge Royalty and Cheniere Energy among others.

Before joining Blackstone, from 2011 to 2014, Belz was a vice president at Blue Water Energy, an energy-focused private equity fund based in London. Prior to that,  he was an associate at the First Reserve Corp., an energy-focused private equity firm.

Belz began his career as an investment banking analyst at Lehman Brothers in the natural resources, mergers and acquisitions Group. He received an AB in economics cum laude with a concentration in government from Harvard College, where he graduated with high honors.

“Because of his broad knowledge of the industry and oil and gas investments, we believe Mr. Belz is well qualified to serve on our board,” Falcon said in a separate filing on April 23.

Falcon Minerals is a C-Corp formed to own and acquire high growth oil-weighted mineral rights.

Headquartered in New York, Falcon Minerals owns mineral, royalty and overriding royalty interests covering approximately 256,000 gross unit acres in the Eagle Ford Shale and Austin Chalk in Karnes, DeWitt and Gonzales counties in Texas. The company also owns approximately 80,000 gross unit acres in the Marcellus Shale across Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. 

Independence Contract Drilling

On April 16, Adam Piekarski tendered his resignation from board of directors of Independence Contract Drilling Inc. (ICD). In an April 21 company filing, ICD said there were no disagreements between Piekarski and the company.

Following Piekarski’s resignation, the size of the ICD board of directors was reduced to five from six.

Piekarski had served on the ICD board as a nominee of the “MSD Parties” pursuant to the terms and conditions of that certain amended and restated stockholders’ agreement, dated as of Oct. 1, 2018, between the company and former members of Sidewinder Drilling LLC.

The “MSD Parties” mean, collectively, MSD Credit Opportunity Master Fund LP, MSD Credit Opportunity Fund X LLC and MSD Energy Investments LP. Pursuant to the stockholders’ agreement, the rights of the MSD Parties to nominate directors terminate if the MSD Parties’ beneficial ownership of the company’s outstanding common stock is less than 10%.

Effective March 30, the MSD Parties’ beneficial ownership became less than 10%. Based on the occurrence of the MSD Parties beneficially owning less than 10% of the company’s outstanding common stock, such event also constituted a “sunset date” under the stockholders’ agreement, under which certain other terms applicable to the MSD Parties also terminated, including (i) transfer restrictions, (ii) restricted activities (including tender or exchange offers, merger proposals, board proposals, calls for special meetings, and acquisitions of additional securities of the company), and (iii) voting in connection with the election of the company’s directors.

Independence Contract Drilling provides land-based contract drilling services for oil and natural gas producers in the U.S. Based in Houston, the company owns and operates a fleet of pad optimal rigs that are specifically engineered and designed to accelerate its clients’ production profiles and cash flows from their most technically demanding and economically impactful oil and gas properties, according to its website. 


On April 20, Michael L. Beatty retired from his service as a member of the board of directors of MPLX GP LLC, the general partner of MPLX LP, as required by the mandatory retirement policy set forth in the governance principles of MPLX and the general partner, the company said in an April 26 filing.
MPLX is a diversified, large-cap MLP formed by Marathon Petroleum Corp. that owns and operates midstream energy infrastructure and logistics assets, and provides fuels distribution services.

Based in Findlay, Ohio, MPLX’s assets include a network of crude oil and refined product pipelines, an inland marine business, light-product terminals, storage caverns, refinery tanks, docks, loading racks and associated piping, and crude and light-product marine terminals. The company also owns crude oil and natural gas gathering systems and pipelines as well as natural gas and NGL processing and fractionation facilities in key U.S. supply basins.

Additionally, MPLX is the owner of MarkWest Energy Partners LP, which is engaged in the gathering, processing, and transportation of natural gas, the transportation, fractionation, storage and marketing of NGL, and the gathering and transportation of crude oil in the U.S.

Noble Corp.

On April 19, Noble Corp. appointed Paul Aronzon to serve as a director. According to a company filing on April 21, Aronzon will serve as a director until the next shareholder vote at the annual general meeting of shareholders of the company in 2022.

At the time of his appointment, Aronzon was named to serve on the audit committee of the board.

Aronzon is a strategic financial consultant with over 40 years of experience as a lead adviser for a wide range of companies. He was formerly co-managing partner of Milbank LLP’s Los Angeles office and co-leader of Milbank’s global financial restructuring group. He served as the executive vice president and co-head of the corporate finance group at Imperial Capital, between 2006 and 2008. Previously, he was a partner/associate for finance and restructuring groups at Gendel, Raskoff, Shapiro and Quittner in Los Angeles.

Aronzon holds a J.D. from the Southwestern University School of Law and a B.A. degree in Political Science from the California State University at Northridge in Los Angeles.

Aronzon was added as an additional member of the board and was designated by Pacific Investment Management Co. LLC in accordance with its director designation right.

Noble is a leading offshore drilling contractor for the oil and gas industry. The company and its predecessors have been engaged in the contract drilling of oil and gas wells since 1921.  

Through its subsidiaries, Noble performs contract drilling services with a fleet of 24 offshore drilling units, consisting of 12 drillships and semisubmersibles and 12 jackups, focused largely on ultra-deepwater and high-specification jackup drilling opportunities in both established and emerging regions worldwide, according to a company release.

Nueces Midstream

Nueces Midstream LLC, an energy infrastructure company, on April 27 announced that Nelson Ferries joins the company as executive vice president of strategy and business development.

In the role, Ferries will oversee corporate growth strategies and all business development activities.

Nuverra Environmental Solutions

Nuverra Environmental Solutions Inc. appointed oilfield services veteran Patrick L. Bond as its next CEO, effective April 21.

Bond, most recently co-CEO of Gravity Oilfield Services, joins Nuverra with decades of experience in the oilfield services sector, according to Charlie Thompson, the company’s current CEO.

“As a 30-year industry veteran, Pat brings not only tremendous operational expertise, but also a deep commercial focus that will be critically important to the company as the industry emerges from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the oil price collapse in 2020,” Thompson said in a statement.

Headquartered in Scottsdale, Ariz., Nuverra provides water logistics and oilfield services to customers focused on the development and ongoing production of oil and natural gas from shale formations in the U.S. Thompson will continue to serve as chairman of the Nuverra board of directors following the transition.

Bond will be based in Nuverra’s corporate office in Houston.


On April 22, Schlumberger Ltd. appointed Samuel Leupold to serve as a member of its board of directors effective immediately, according to a company filing on April 26. Leupold will also serve on the board’s finance committee and its new energy and innovation committee.

Leupold brings significant experience in energy transition and sustainability to the board, having served as the CEO of Ørsted Wind Power A/S, the principal subsidiary Ørsted AS, from 2013 to 2018, where he led Ørsted Wind Power to become the world’s leading developer and owner of offshore wind assets.

In addition, since 2019, Leupold has been chairman of Wind Energy at Green Investment Group, a leading global green infrastructure investor owned by the Macquarie Group, and served as an independent senior adviser on energy and infrastructure.

Since May 2020, Leupold has been an independent non-executive member of the board at Enel SpA, one of Europe’s largest utilities focused on sustainability and the energy transition.

The board of Schlumberger believes that Leupold’s insight and experience will benefit the company as it implements its strategy to deploy sustainable technologies to provide accessible energy for the benefit of all, the company said in the filing.  

Schlumberger is a provider of technology and services to the energy industry across the world. Headquartered in Houston, Schlumberger is the world largest oilfield service provider based on revenue and market cap. The company provides technology and services to the energy industry across the world, including through its recently formed new energy division, launched to explore new business opportunities in low carbon or carbon-neutral energy technologies.

Superior Energy Services

Effective April 21, William B. Masters resigned from his position as Superior Energy Services Inc.’s executive vice president and general counsel and transitioned to the role of a senior adviser to the company, according to a filing on April 26.

Superior and Masters have entered into a transition agreement, dated April 21, which replaces the June 15, 2013 employment agreement between Masters and the company in its entirety except for certain surviving provisions set forth in the transition agreement, including the restrictive covenant agreements contained in his employment agreement (other than the one-year non-compete covenant that otherwise would apply if Masters voluntarily resigns his employment with the company with or without good cause).

Pursuant to the transition agreement, Masters will serve as a senior adviser to Superior through Dec. 31, 2021. Between April 22 and this date,  Masters will be paid the remainder of his base salary bi-weekly. He and his family, will remain eligible for continued participation in all medical and other welfare benefit plans generally available to the company’s executive officers, but not certain other incentive benefits and other perquisites.

Following the termination date at year-end 2021, pursuant to governing law and independent of the Transition Agreement, Masters may elect COBRA benefit continuation coverage. Subject to Masters’ execution and non-revocation of a post-termination release, if elected by Masters, the company will provide a direct payment of 100% of Masters’ COBRA premium through March 31, 2022, unless he becomes eligible for other group health plan coverage or Medicare.

Superior Energy Services provides tools and systems throughout the life cycle of the well, including drilling products and services, offshore completion and workover services, production services and technical solutions. Based in Houston, the company’s services span the globe, with operations in Africa, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, Latin America and North America.

Vortus Investment Advisors

Vortus Investment Advisors LLC announced the addition of Luke Brandenberg as a managing director of the private equity firm.

Brandenberg joins Vortus from Dallas-based private equity firm Grey Rock Energy Partners, which he had partnered with to launch a special situations initiative and to lead the deal origination, structuring and relationship management efforts for the new platform.

At Vortus, Brandenberg will be a key member of the investment team responsible for various stages of the investment cycle including sourcing, structuring, transactional due diligence, monitoring and management, according to the firm’s release on April 26.

Based in Fort Worth, Texas, Vortus Investment Advisors focuses on the lower middle market upstream energy industry in North America. The firm targets privately negotiated transactions requiring approximately $25 million to $100 million of equity capital in partnership with successful owner/operators as part its asset-based investment strategy.