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Stephen DeSalvo, COO and country manager of Saba Energy, took an unusual route into the oil and gas industry—via Wall Street banking during a less than stellar time—about a year after “Black Monday,” the stock market crash of 1987.

DeSalvo decided to leave New York and go west, where he was hired by Amoco Production Co. in its Denver offices and was assigned to the drilling group as a business analyst. “I fell in love with it,” he said. “I knew nothing about the industry until I started with Amoco.”

Hart Energy September 2022 - Oil and Gas Investor Whos Who in E&P A and D - Stephen DeSalvo Saba Energy headshot“Most of the rank type exploration is being done by smaller companies willing to take the risk to find new oil reserves, like Saba Energy.”—Stephen DeSalvo, Saba Energy

He later earned an MBA from the University of Colorado in 2000.

During the first 15 years of career, he worked for E&P companies where his primary role was “bridging the gap between finance and operations.” His exposure to financial and operational analytics, project planning, budgeting and economic analysis gave him a base of knowledge at a time when the industry was suffering.

“During my early years, the industry was struggling with low oil and gas prices, below $15 per barrel and $1 per Mcf,” he said. “Times were tough, and the work I was involved with was highly scrutinized.”

His current work at Saba is focused on Belize. In November 2019, the company completed a signing of a production sharing agreement (PSA) with the government of Belize. The PSA gives Saba a lease to explore and produce gas over an area of 579,462 contiguous acres.

“We have been conducting exploration activity since the signing of the PSA,” DeSalvo said.

For a road map to the A&D point person for oil companies, big private players and newer upstream companies check out Who’s Who in E&P A&D 2021.

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Saba is backed by Robusto Capital, where DeSalvo is also a partner. Robusto and Saba are headed by Josh Stewart, founder of Robusto. The company was further funded with financial backing from investors in Dubai.

Saba is currently focused on its Belize position.

“Not many companies are exploring for oil and gas in the true meaning of exploration,” DeSalvo said. Most large E&Ps have reduced their exploration funding, and firms are moving away from new oil and gas opportunities.

“Most of the rank type exploration is being done by smaller companies willing to take the risk to find new oil reserves, like Saba Energy,” he said.

DeSalvo said knowledge is the key to making any transaction.

A deal maker should “have a basic understanding of the risk, the challenges ahead and can it make money? You make your money on the buy, not the sell.”