Brandon Webster
39

President and CEO, Connect Midstream LLC, Edmund, Okla.
39 FortyUnder40 Brandon Webster

Becoming the president and CEO of Connect Midstream at the age of 36 was not something that Brandon Webster had anticipated when he began his career in the oil and gas industry as a petroleum landman. He attributes his success to support from mentors and refusal to be outworked.

In early 2018, Webster successfully led his team on the origination of three separate commercial contracts within a 6-month window, which resulted in more than 170,000 net acres and 2.2 million gross acres being dedicated to Connect Midstream over 20 years.

“When we started the process, many felt our aggressive in-service timeline was impossible. As a leader, I’m still overwhelmed with pride from the hard work, dedication and competitive spirit displayed by our team during that period. After this experience, my confidence grew exponentially in our team’s ability to take any complex challenge or project presented to us and find an innovative way to solve it while also doing it at break-neck speed,” he said.

A natural leader

“In early 2019, it became clear that U.S. oil and gas was changing and we as a private-equity-backed midstream company needed to evolve. I went to the other members of our leadership team with a plan to switch our core focus from growth, development and transition to prioritizing operations and business optimization.

“We implemented an internal plan to position Connect Midstream as a best-in-class operating and optimization company, and that plan included significant challenges and clear direction to each employee to think innovatively and improve our processes, large and small. It took us nearly a year, but the results have yielded a greater than 15% annualized reduction in operating expense and corporate overhead costs, a gathering and processing system averaging less than 1% L&U, plant recoveries well exceeding manufacturer modeled simulations while using less plant fuel, and safety and environmental metrics that continue to receive glowing feedback during third-party audits and inspections.”

Career goals

“In the short term, I look forward to putting our successful operations and optimization strategies to work in additional basins in order to create value and maximize efficiencies that will ultimately incent new development and provide greater economic certainty for producers.

“In the long term, I look forward to playing a part of the innovative processes being implemented in our industry in order to reduce our carbon footprint and limit methane emissions. At Connect, we’ve thought this way going back to inception and put it into practice by building our 220 million cubic feet per day-processing plant as a fully electric motor drive facility, keeping this facility at an incredibly low annual emissions rate.”

Staying motivated

“Too many people believe that if there aren’t 5 to 10 rigs running on your midstream system, it’s just going to be a bad year. When you truly understand how your assets function from a technical standpoint and can translate that into how you manage your contracts, you can consistently unlock new value streams, even during downtimes. The challenge of optimizing assets and using the absolute passion I have for this business, keeps me excited and energized, even when external circumstances are tough.”

Perspective on leadership

“A good leader should be calm at all times. This business is filled with peaks and valleys and can elicit a lot of emotion in people. Our job as leaders is to be the steady force for our companies and keep our decision processes within that consistent space, so that we’re not being emotional or overly conservative or liberal when making a call.

“A liberated team empowered to generate their own successes allows for development of a leadership culture in an organization and ultimately allows executives to focus on the long-term strategic plan for the company and not managing people. Also, leaders should be focused on removing obstacles for their employees so that focus is on results and those results aren’t slowed by internal or external roadblocks.”

“When you deeply understand how your assets function from a technical standpoint and can translate that into how you manage the intricate details in your contracts, midstream businesses can consistently unlock new value streams, even during downtimes.”