James “Jim” Henry, a longtime Permian Basin wildcatter who began his career with wells in conventional rock and later moved to drilling stimulated horizontals in tight, unconventional formations, passed away on Oct. 17.
He was 89.
A service will be held Monday at First Methodist Church in Midland, Texas, according to an announcement by Nalley-Pickle & Welch funeral home. A reception will be held at the Midland Petroleum Club.
The son of an engineer, Henry loved math, he told Hart Energy in 2008 shortly after selling his Henry Petroleum for $565 million to Concho Resources Inc., which is now a part of ConocoPhillips.
Over some 40 years, Henry had grown Henry Petroleum’s portfolio to a lead position in the Spraberry/Wolfcamp play and to total proved reserves of 163 Bcfe, 70% oil.
Ben Shepperd, president of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association (PBPA), said Henry’s generosity was legendary, as was his passion for the Permian and the association. Henry served as PBPA chair and was given the organization’s Top Hand award.
“I owe a tremendous amount gratitude to Jim for mentoring me and spending countless hours explaining his vision for the Permian Basin oil and gas industry and the PBPA,” Shepperd said in a statement about Henry’s passing.
Henry graduated from Oklahoma University in 1958 with a master’s in petroleum engineering. During college he roughnecked, but his first oilfield job came earlier, in 1952, “swatting flies around Wichita Falls, Texas. I was a ‘jug hustler,’ [setting up geophones for a seismic crew].”
He served two years in the Air Force as a research engineer in Dayton, Ohio, working on liquid-hydrogen projects, and he later worked for Humble Oil & Refining Co. and Skelly Oil.
After going to Humble’s reservoir school in Houston, he was transferred to Midland.
In 1969, Henry started his own E&P and active in the Midland oil and gas community. In the 1980s, he founded the Forum for E&P, a monthly networking event for small independents, service companies and bankers.
In 2000, he helped form the Applied Petroleum Technology Academy (APTA), a non-profit with a mission to export to the world the Permian Basin’s enhanced-oil-recovery (EOR) technology.
He was also well known for valuing employees as greatly as—or likely, more than—property. In the 2008 sale to Concho, a key condition was that Concho keep most—about 80—of the employees for at least two years.
The balance—about 20 individuals—continued with Henry’s new company, Henry Resources, which he and wife Paula had already formed. Last month, the Henry family agreed to sell most of their myriad portfolios to Vital Energy Inc. in an all-equity transaction.
He told Hart Energy in 2008 that, from his experience in the business, it’s evident “how much value we can gain by treating our vendors as partners rather than just suppliers.
“This lesson did not come easily or naturally to us, but once we started to treat these contractors with the respect they have earned, our successes really started to multiply.
David Bledsoe, president of Henry Resources, said, “He was the most generous person I have ever met. His top priority was always his employees."
Among his sayings: Never lay off employees for financial reasons; instead, make financial strategy decisions that don’t jeopardize employees.
--“Never reprimand people for making mistakes. If they aren't making mistakes, they aren’t trying new things.”
--"Nobody ever went out of business by having no debt.” In other words, Bledsoe said, “avoid debt!”
--"Never bet against technology.”
--"If you make money, share it with employees.”
--“Do something. We can correct that; we can’t correct doing nothing.”
Henry told Hart Energy in 2008, “I’ve been in this industry for 45 years, and I absolutely love it. I want there to be a Henry company employing people in Midland long after I am gone.”
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