Oil well blowout spurs creative solution

BY RANDY ELLIS rellis@opubco.com Published: September 18, 2011

Sometimes a simple story can tell a lot about a man.

People curious about OPUBCO's future owner might want to watch a short You Tube video in which Philip Anschutz relates the story about what he did years ago when his small oil and gas company was faced with a well blowout.

“When I was 27 years old, the worst of all things happened,” he said. “There was a blowout, which caught fire. These are the things that can not only destroy, from a financial point of view, individuals, but can destroy companies.”

Anschutz's thoughts immediately turned to Red Adair, a man who had a worldwide reputation for putting out such fires and bringing wells under control before his death in 2004. Adair, however, wouldn't come unless Anschutz could guarantee him the money to pay for his expensive services, which Anschutz didn't then have the ability to do.

“I found out a movie studio was wanting to make a movie about Red Adair, so I called them and said if they could hurry out, I'd allow them to shoot real footage of an oil well on fire,” Anschutz said.

Anschutz said the movie studio paid him an advance.

“I called Red Adair and told him to get up there, I could pay him now,” he said.

John Wayne starred in the film, “Hellfighters.”

Adair put out the fire and Anschutz used the film money to pay him.

“It helps to have your back against the wall,” Anschutz reflected. “Adversity is a huge advantage, as long as you think of it as an advantage, because it helps you do things that you never thought you were capable of doing.”


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