Zachary Hart
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Senior Vice President, A&D and Reservoir Engineering, Indigo Natural Resources, Houston
15 FortyUnder40 Hart, Zachary

When Zachary Hart graduated from the University of Texas with his undergraduate degree in petroleum engineering in 2004, it was “a great time to enter the industry,” he said. “Oil and gas prices had risen dramatically, there was renewed investment into the space and the industry was suffering from a decades-long drop in petroleum engineering enrollment, which was setting up for what became known as the ‘great crew change.’”

Now senior vice president, A&D and reservoir engineering, for Indigo Natural Resources, Hart said that, “Today’s oil and gas industry is one that requires constant reinvention, and it requires understanding and utilizing new technologies,” he said.

When Hart joined Indigo in 2009, the company was producing about 25 MMcf/d from shallow, vertical wells in North Louisiana; now his leadership has helped lead the company through multiple Haynesville acquisitions and subsequent development to grow its total production to over 1 Bcfe/d.

Haynesville breakthrough

“The Haynesville play had essentially gone dormant from late 2012 through 2015 as operators had drilled enough wells to hold their acreage and the initial well results were proving to not be as economic as initially thought. During this time we watched as completion designs in other shale basins had evolved and were producing significantly better results than the legacy predecessor wells. All of our technical work indicated that the Haynesville could be a world class gas play with the application of modern completion designs and longer laterals, so we began to hunt for the right set of assets.”

“We closed on our first Haynesville acquisition in early 2016, followed by an even larger acquisition in late 2016/early 2017 … and continued making smaller bolt-on acquisitions to build out the position. In just three short years, we accomplished two major milestones: We grew our net rate from approximately 150 MMcf/d to over 1 Bcf/d, making us one of the largest private natural gas producers in the U.S., and we entered into a 50:50 midstream joint venture [JV], which was built, filled with Indigo’s gas and subsequently sold for $2.65 billion.”

Technological proponent

“In April of 2019 my role expanded when the reservoir engineering and corporate reserves groups were merged back in under my leadership, along with the A&D group that I was currently leading. One of the first things I did was set up an all-day offsite conference where we would all give a presentation on something unique that we do, with the theme being based around how to incorporate technology into our workflows.”

“Through the collaborative effort of the group, we established a number of tools that help us provide more real time views into well performance and post-drill economics. We developed a more robust internal system for linking high impact data across multiple departments and built a collaborative basin-wide performance model. These tools have been instrumental in capital allocation, evaluation of business performance and competitor analysis.”

Leadership perspective

“I have found that good leaders give their employees the freedom and the tools to explore new ideas and new technologies. Not every idea will be a success, and good leadership will understand and support failed trials, so long as they were technically sound.”

“One of the reasons we have been successful at Indigo is because we have been an organization that supports testing these new ideas, thinking outside the box and fostering innovation. As one of my favorite people at Indigo put it, ‘one thing that sets us apart is the ability for independent thinking.’”

The science and art of a deal

“A great mentor and someone who has helped me to always focus on the big vision is Bill Pritchard, Indigo’s founder and executive chairman. A&D is part science and part art, but both have to be technically correct in their own right while working in unison. With a background in engineering, I always had the laser focus on ensuring the ‘science’ behind acquisition evaluations were technically correct. Over the years, Bill has helped me to better understand the ‘art’ side. ‘What is the vision for the assets or for the company? Is this something we need or something we want? And what is the strategy for turning assets into a company?’”

“A&D is part science and part art, but both have to be technically correct in their own right while working in unison.”