Brandon Junker
39

Co-founder, President and Director of Operations, Acacia Exploration Partners LLC, Dallas
18 FortyUnder40 Junker, Brandon

Growing up, when Brandon Junker saw the father of one of his childhood friends receive well logs on a home fax machine or on calls discussing operational issues, being a petroleum engineer always appeared fast paced and rewarding. Later, after interning for Anadarko Petroleum Corp. the summer before heading to Texas A&M, he knew oil and gas was the right industry for him.

Junker now serves as president and director of operations of Acacia Exploration Partners LLC, a company he co-founded with two other partners, Melissa Andreani and Clayton Flurry. Together, they plan to turn the firm into “a multifaceted, multibasin company, with operated and nonoperated investments across the risk spectrum,” he said.

Founding Acacia

“Early in 2017, the company I was working for was capital fatigued in development of our asset and was not having success divesting in a stagnant A&D market. My two partners and I decided then it was worth the risk to seek equity backing and start our own shop. We wanted to do so with integrity, so it meant asking our executives for their consent to do so.

“Thus, one afternoon I drove over to our CEO’s home, sat down with him at his dining table, and asked for his approval to form our own company and purchase the asset we had built during the previous three years. It felt like asking a father for his daughter’s hand in marriage, and I can honestly say that I wasn’t much less nervous doing so asking my own father-in-law for his approval! Our CEO gave me his blessing, and we were off to the races.”

A challenging deal

“Getting the HighMark/Acacia STACK transaction across the finish line was one of the most challenging projects I’ve ever been a part of. Who knew buying an asset from yourself could be so difficult? Well, when two PE firms are involved, little trust exists between them; one is questioning what upside they’re missing out on, and the other is wondering if the new development strategy is going to pay out as modeled.

“Fortunately, we were able to bring both sides to the table, negotiating a successful exit for one investor and an opportunistic purchase for the other who had synergies in the basin. None of this would have been possible had it not been for the solid reputations we had built with our previous sponsor and executives, combined with sheer tenacity in getting the deal done.”

The first (and second) rigs

“Signing our first rig contract after forming Acacia was an especially proud moment I will never forget; pulling up on location and seeing the derrick raised, ready to spud our first well as Acacia was the culmination of all the hard work every member of our team had contributed in building our company. To add to the excitement, we brought on a second rig just 37 days later to accelerate acreage appraisal.”

Strong mentors

“My father demonstrated his advice through action, working 48 years for H.B. Zachry, exhibiting work ethic, loyalty and dedication to his employer and employees. Those values run deep in my veins and the lights aren’t turned off until the work is complete and done right.

In addition to my father, and several brilliant technical mentors at Burlington Resources, Steve Pugh has always been in my corner as a mentor and a sponsor. He gave me increasing responsibility over the years and had more faith than I did in my ability to excel at the next opportunity. Steve was the catalyst behind ‘getting the band back together,’ bringing Melissa, Clayton and myself back together at HighMark and eventually supporting our efforts to found Acacia.”

Meeting a global need

“It is on our small industry’s shoulders to fuel the world through responsible hydrocarbon extraction until we can develop more economic renewable energy solutions. With the ingenuity and grit of the oilfield professionals I’ve worked with, I know that we can successfully meet the global need for energy for many decades to come.”

“There is no better way to motivate and encourage others to work their hardest than by setting the example that you’re willing to work side-by-side with them until the job is finished.”