Chris D. Heinson

Senior Vice President and COO, Sanchez Energy Corp., Houston
40under40 feat. Chris Heinson

Under Chris Heinson’s leadership, “since 2014, Sanchez never stopped drilling and never laid off a single employee.”

Navigation: Heinson guided Sanchez Energy through the worst of the downturn by implementing a rigorous schedule. Heinson said that at the time, “I had been COO for under a year in November of 2014 when oil crashed and still felt like I was learning the job. All of a sudden, I found the company looking to me for guidance. … After a sleepless week I decided to call the organization together and have a frank discussion about the seriousness of the situation.

“I plainly stated the facts as I saw them: unconventional development was too expensive to thrive at these oil prices. I then presented the team with a single chart showing the well cost needed to break even at various oil prices. The whole organization was asked to decide to either work as a group to drive down costs per well, or be prepared to shut down capital spending and prepare for an extended period of cost-cutting.

“In the following 40 days, the team all canceled their holiday plans and vacations and worked every single day. … By January 2015, we had reduced well costs from $7 million per well to $4.3 million. Over the next two years … the team carried the initiative forward and was able to achieve well costs as low as $2.8 million per well.”

Career path: Heinson began his career as a reservoir engineer at Occidental Petroleum Corp.; he held that role from May 2007 to May 2011 before working as a development planning engineer from May 2011 to March 2013. From March 2013 to December 2013, he was senior manager of reservoir engineering at Sanchez Oil & Gas Corp., before taking on his current role.