Chaparral's growth in 25 years exceeds founders' dream

Oklahoma City-based Chaparral Energy will celebrate its 25th anniversary next week. The privately held company has more than 750 employees and plans to continue growing rapidly.
by Adam Wilmoth Published: March 22, 2013

In the spring of 1988, oil companies were slashing jobs throughout the country as crashing oil prices sparked a deep industry downturn.

In the midst of that difficult environment, brothers Mark and Chuck Fischer co-founded Oklahoma City oil company Chaparral Energy Corp.

“Because of that time frame, we were able to acquire properties at very reasonable and respectful prices,” Mark Fischer, who is Chaparral's CEO, told The Oklahoman this week. “That allowed us to establish a base.”

When the Fischers started Chaparral with just two employees, they had high hopes for success, but they could not imagine the company would grow to 750 employees with operations in six states.

“The company has done very well,” Mark Fischer said. “It has not been without its ups and downs, but we never thought we would be here. We've been blessed with management and people to make it grow.”

The Oklahoma City oil and natural gas company will celebrate its 25th anniversary Wednesday.

Throughout much of its history, Chaparral has focused on carbon dioxide waterflooding, a process where companies pump carbon dioxide and water into old oil fields to boost oil production. Chaparral transports carbon dioxide mostly from fertilizer plants through more than 400 miles of pipeline to some of the state's oldest fields.

The company's newest project is the North Burbank in Osage County.

First drilled more than 90 years ago, the North Burbank is where Frank Phillips got his start. More than 319 million barrels of oil already have been recovered from the field. Chaparral expects to extract an additional 80 million to 100 million barrels.

Chaparral also is one of the larger players in the growing Mississippi Lime, which underlies much of northern Oklahoma and western Kansas.

Even though the drilling and recovery operations are very different between Chaparral's two focus areas, adding the Mississippi Lime production was a natural progression for the Chaparral, Fischer said.

The rock layer underlies about 60,000 acres that Chaparral already controlled for its carbon dioxide flooding operations.

“It's a play we had a nice position in, so it made sense for us to start exploring it,” Fischer said.


by Adam Wilmoth
Energy Editor
Adam Wilmoth returned to The Oklahoman as energy editor in 2012 after working for four years in public relations. He previously spent seven years as a business reporter at The Oklahoman, including five years covering the state's energy sector....
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