Matt Luna
30

Vice President of Development, Kraken Oil and Gas LLC, Houston
28 FortyUnder40 Luna, Matthew

An entrepreneurial spirit has always been a part of Matt Luna’s story. He watched as his father worked his way up the corporate ladder to starting his own company and now owning a successful office furniture supply company. His father’s accomplishments did not come without an immense amount of hard work and perseverance, which instilled certain values in Luna.

“It doesn’t matter who you are, how smart you are, where you’re from or where you grew up—if you treat people the right way, work extremely hard and fully dedicate to learning and improving in all facets of life, you will put yourself in the best position to succeed,” he said.

As a first-generation college student, Luna was unsure of which major to choose, but he decided on petroleum engineering due to his liking for math and the oil and gas culture in Houston. While still a full-time student, Luna began to work part time at Brigham Exploration. Upon graduating, he already had two years of corporate experience at an oil and gas operator. After a successful career at Statoil (now Equinor ASA), Luna took a leap into the private-equity space with Kraken Oil and Gas LLC, where he is currently vice president of development.

The path to vice president

“I was hired on as senior reservoir engineer at Kraken Oil and Gas in October 2016 when I was 26. I was the only reservoir engineer at the time. I was then promoted to development manager in May 2018 when I was 28 and to vice president of development in May 2019 when I was 29. Throughout this period, we drilled and completed 200-plus new wells and screened numerous deals ($3.5 billion-plus in value) and executed $260 million worth of acquisitions.

“I was our boots-on-the-ground technical expert and required to know the ins and outs of Kraken and competitor well results, Kraken cost estimates versus actuals, Kraken forecasting inputs and outputs, anything that goes into our corporate and financial models, any acquisition evaluation, etc.

“My proudest accomplishment revolves around becoming vice president before 30 years old. I reached this much earlier than expected due to a few things—my hard work, resilience and persistence to never quit. However, I realize at the same time that none of this could have been accomplished without our successful and talented team at Kraken and also our partners at Kayne Anderson.”

Transitioning to a startup

“My most memorable professional experience is taking the leap from Statoil, a large global operator, to Kraken, a small private operator. I had worked my way up at Statoil starting from reservoir engineer to drilling engineer to development planner over the entire Bakken asset. I had every resource at my fingertips, being at a large organization, and basically an unlimited budget for development plans, resources, etc. I decided to make the jump to Kraken because I felt like I was ready for a more entrepreneurial opportunity and one that would be able to move quicker on its feet.

“I joined Kraken as employee No. 8. The first few weeks were eye-opening. Whether I knew it at the time or not, Kraken was basically a startup. Resources had to be selected while staying within a specific budget. Some programs and subscriptions were out of budget, so we had to adapt and build from scratch. We had to learn how to code and build tools for our day-to-day processes. There was no longer any tech staff, whereas Statoil had dedicated entire departments and groups to that talent.”

In the field

“I’m extremely proud of accomplishing a two-year field stint spent in Williston, North Dakota, early in my career in 2014. I lived in a trailer on site at a drilling location and worked as a night company man. I gained an appreciation and understanding of everything that goes into field work, from the sacrifice it takes to live in a remote location and being away from family for an extended period of time to the dirty work required to turning wrenches, getting muddy, and lifting and operating heavy equipment. It’s one thing to learn the business from the office, but it’s another to experience first-hand how wells are drilled, completed and brought online to production.”

“I think a leader in the oil and gas industry must have an open mind and ear, resilience, perseverance and ability to communicate and provide direction.”