Presented by Grant Thornton and Preng & Associates. Photography by Evin Thayer Studios.

Jason Churchill, 39

CEO, PetroLegacy Energy, Austin, Texas

Jason Churchill has endured the difficulties of the industry. “The greatest challenge I faced was watching the value of our East Eagle Ford project unravel during the commodity collapse of 2014,” the CEO says. “The A&D market for these assets all but disappeared and we were faced with financial difficulties I had never seen before. After an honest internal assessment of value, we handled ourselves with humility and candidly recommended divesting at a loss to our shareholders.” Doing so allowed PetroLegacy to reallocate resources into growth through acquisitions. “It was a brutal decision to cut bait, but absolutely the right one.”

To that point, he says that “we remain convinced that radical transparency plus candid communication plus relentlessness equals results.”

Two years later, PetroLegacy Energy II, backed by EnCap Investments LP, is operating in the Midland Basin with 1,750 boe/d of production on more than 25,000 acres; it is currently co- developing three distinct benches on its inaugural three-well pad while actively looking to acquire additional interest or bolt-on acreage.

Looking ahead: “Over the next 12 months, I believe we will see our A&D market re-emerge and drive consolidation where it makes economic sense. I aim to participate not only as a seller but also as a as a buyer. As a team, we remain excited about additional investment opportunities in the unconventional space.”

Churchill is proud of the PetroLegacy culture. Once strategies are defined and communicated, everyone works toward the collective goal or goals. “The biggest example of coalescence was our decision in 2016 to pivot from the Eagle Ford to the Permian. That was a deeply debated decision.

“We knew it would be difficult to find reasonable acquisition opportunities in the Permian, but nonetheless, jumped in. After months of scouring, we uncovered a foothold in an expanding area of Martin County [Texas]. This transformative accomplishment was only possible because of the team’s adaptation and contribution.”

Industry outlook: Churchill recognizes that world’s appetite for energy will propel the cycle of business. “We have the most favorable environment for private oil and gas investment here in the U.S. Until that changes, there will continue to be demand for private equity to unlock new reserves for public E&P acquisition and development.”

Advice for young professionals: “Nobody cares about your development and success as much as you, so take matters into your own hands. Be humble and patient. Your opportunity will come, so never stop learning and preparing. It’s the best return on investment you could hope for.”

Photography by
Evin Thayer Studios