Justin Bennett

Co-founder and CCO, Piñon Midstream, Houston
Justin Bennett

Growing up in Conroe, Texas, reading about oil and gas legends like H.L. Hunt, Sid Richardson and Hugh Roy Cullen, it would be hard not to want to join the energy industry. That’s what inspired Justin Bennett to enter the industry at a young age. Little did he know at the time, he would go on to be one of the founding partners of Piñon Midstream.

“Being part of the team that formed Piñon Midstream is by far my proudest achievement. We took a huge risk to build a company around providing a service that not many others wanted to provide,” he said. “What started out as a long-shot dream has rapidly turned into a company of 20-plus people that is transforming the midstream space by providing a substantial sour gas and carbon capture/sequestration service to our customers.”

Currently living in Tomball, Texas, with his wife, Paige, Bennett serves as co-founder and CCO of Piñon Midstream.

Highs and lows

“Becoming a founding partner of a midstream company that is on the forefront of carbon capture and sequestration certainly came sooner than expected. I would say that having a vision and believing in myself and the willingness to take risks to seize an opportunity helped me reach this milestone. I, of course, had a ton of help along the way from:

  • My wife, Paige, who is always encouraging and supporting me; 
  • My business partners, Steven Green and David Cargill;
  • Our private equity partner, Black Bay Energy Capital;
  • Our customer partner, Ameredev II; and
  • Our strategic vendor partners, specifically Spitzer Industries and Kodiak Gas Services.

Without each one of them, I could not have achieved this milestone.

My most challenging project to date was taking the concept of building a midstream business with the sole function of treating sour gas from a dream to reality in the middle of the COVID-19 shutdown. In the past, sour gas assets have garnered little interest from investors in the midstream space, and investors in general were keeping money on the sidelines due to the uncertainty around COVID, so I had my work cut out for me. With the help from a long-time industry friend, I was able to find a key business partner, who is now our CEO. We put together a plan to provide a sour gas solution in a highly constrained area of the Delaware Basin and went out to present that plan to private equity. We were very fortunate to partner with the first group that we pitched. Our good fortune continued as we added critical members to the team and have since grown the business to 20-plus people and an expanding asset. Hard work and perseverance by all is how we accomplished the goal.”

Leading the way

“I think that leading by example, getting your hands dirty with the team, being humble and respectful, and accepting complete ownership for yourself and your team are key qualities of a good leader. People look up to and follow a leader that doesn’t point the finger but instead gets down in the trenches and does what it takes to get the job done, no matter how big or small the task.

I choose to lead by example and put everything I have into my work and take great pride in the job that we do as a team. No job is too big or small for anyone, and I try to wear as many hats as possible. Whatever will help our objectives as a company, I am willing to do with a smile on my face. I think a positive can-do attitude is contagious and encourages others to act the same. And simply treating everyone with respect and expressing gratitude for any job well done is an extremely effective motivator.”

Learning from the best

“I don’t necessarily have a specific mentor that stands out but rather have been fortunate enough to learn from several key people in my career, both young and old. I strive to surround myself and spend time with those that I admire and am always eager to learn from their experiences. I attended a luncheon six or so years ago where Bob Phillips of Crestwood was the speaker. Bob said that in his career, he’s seen pride get in the way of a lot of good deals. That is something that always stuck with me and something that I have witnessed as well. I use that advice daily as a reminder to stay humble and always keep the big picture in mind when working through tough negotiations, which has suited me well.”

Optimistic future

“Our industry is so dynamic, and there are always new problems to solve. No two days are ever the same, and there are new and exciting challenges around every corner. Our industry is also one where you can learn something new every single day for your entire career. The great people in this industry are also a motivator to me.

I think young industry members as a group have an energy and a hunger to succeed and to make an impact on the industry. Our industry is faced with many adversaries, and the younger generations are taking the initiative to combat those adversaries by creating creative solutions to make our industry a cleaner and more sustainable one so that it may thrive well into the future.

I, for one, am immensely proud of what I do and of this industry, and I recognize that it is the industry that makes the world go round. That being said, I believe that we need to continue making progress and investments into technologies and practices that will allow our industry to operate cleaner and more environmentally responsibly.”

Three More Things

  1. My career goal post oil and gas is to be a rancher in South or West Texas.
  2. My wife and I are expecting a son in April.
  3. Archery hunting is a passion of mine that will take me to Africa in pursuit of a cape buffalo to celebrate my 40th birthday.