Michael Woodward, vice president of business development at Meritage Midstream II LLC, has led his team in directing significant investment dollars into the Powder River Basin. Since 2013, the company has grown its rich gas gathering and processing market share from 1% to over 50% and is now the largest midstream company in the basin.
If there’s one thing that drives Woodward’s passion for the oil and gas industry, it’s the people. Early in his career, Woodward switched from accounting to business development because he wanted the ability to meet new people and gain insights from the network. “People are what make our industry special, and I get the opportunity to connect with people in a wide range of disciplines. These interactions have definitely helped me be more successful,” he said.
Investing in the future
“The first quarter of 2020 saw us wrap up a two-year investment in a new 200 million cubic feet per day-cryogenic processing plant and related residue, NGL and rich gas gathering pipelines to help support our customers’ oil and associated gas growth initiatives. This project was really a culmination of a series of challenges, which started long before the project kickoff and involved investment justification with our board, customer and downstream contract negotiations, and detailed analytics relating to type curves, pricing and activity levels and technology selection.
“Focus and information assimilation were keys to success. The environment [of the industry] is dynamic. Because conditions affecting this investment decision had the potential and did change so rapidly, we had to continue analyzing sensitivities, stay in closer communication with our customers and vendors and stay agile in our decision making.
“Although growth profiles have changed given unprecedented events this year, we still believe the project to be a success. Large-scale gas processing plants are easily 30 to 50-year investment decisions, and we believe we created necessary infrastructure that will benefit our customers, consumers, the state of Wyoming and the industry well into the future.”
“Listening and working to understand others’ opinions and ideas is paramount to great leadership. In January, we wrapped up a long and tough contract negotiation, which spanned 14 months. The contract required countless internal and external meetings where information needed to be gleaned and translated into contractual language. I helped collaborate with all departments and listened to their concerns as we pushed through a very complex agreement
“Through the ups and downs of the process I maintained a positive attitude, which helped others that were putting in the hours to stay positive as well. Another key leadership skill is follow-through, and now that the contract is in administration phase, I am still there every day reviewing the impacts and language in the agreement to make sure it is being done properly.
“Ultimately, I believe I showed leadership by staying the course and putting the hours in with the team every step of the way.”
“The last several years I have had the opportunity to return to my alma mater (University of Wyoming) as part of our recruiting efforts for our summer engineering internship program. It is a sense of pride and reward to return to a place of fond memories that was the springboard for my career and potentially help be a springboard for another UW student.”
“My mentor always told me that working in oil and gas requires ‘intestinal fortitude.’ I definitely have come to appreciate what he meant given the commodity price cycles that we experience.
“With that said, I believe a good leader in our industry should be humble in good times and bad. A good leader is transparent and communicates effectively to a wide range of audiences and is willing to be ‘in the trenches’ leading by example.”
Advice to young professionals
“Continuously feed your brain with information about not only the industry but also where it fits into our country and our world.
“It is imperative to learn the history of oil and gas development to create a solid foundation on which to make future decisions.
“Join as many professional organizations as possible, e.g., SPE, COPAS, GPA etc., and be sure to embrace the opportunity to learn from others outside your department or company.”
“People are what make our industry special, and I get the opportunity to connect with people in a wide range of disciplines.”