Just four months ago, Lanny Holman was planning his retirement.
Today, the 65-year-old geologist is president and a partner at newly formed Red Mountain Energy LLC.
“Once you develop a knowledge and passion for what you do, it usually does not diminish in later years,” Holman said. “As a geologist, I continue that love and thrill of excitement for hunting for new prospects. That's what we do as geologists. That's what makes this new venture exciting for me.”
Holman in December was one of 275 Chesapeake employees offered a buyout. Within days, he was contacted by Oklahoma City businessman Tony Say, who is now one of Holman's partners at Red Mountain.
“Tony wanted to talk about the possibility of a new venture,” Holman said. “I explained to him I was planning on retiring, but the more I talked to him, the more intrigued I was with what he wanted to do.”
Red Mountain plans to focus on oil production in the Mid-continent and Permian Basin regions. The partners expect to acquire $50 million to $150 million in assets over the next year.
Red Mountain is backed by Say and his Clearwater Enterprises and Jack Golsen, founder and CEO of Oklahoma City-based LSB Industries.
“This is an idea I've thought about for a while, but the right person wasn't available until recently,” Say said. “It's important to find someone of Lanny's talents. The scientist makes the deal.”
Holman is an Oklahoma State University graduate with 41 years of oil and gas experience as a geologist, including the past 10 years at Chesapeake, where he most recently served as geoscience coordinator in the Anadarko district.
He said his experience at Chesapeake and elsewhere in his career will be invaluable at Red Mountain.
“A lot of that has to do with understanding how to prospect and recognizing diverging trends and being able to assess predictability of zones and do basic geology,” he said. “Once a geologist, always a geologist. With all the places I worked and the exposure I've had, I have a good feel for if a play has potential.”
Experience is valued
Leadership changes at Chesapeake have led to hundreds of employees leaving the Oklahoma City company. Some, like Holman, have started new companies. Others have joined existing firms.
“Some of the people felt compelled to leave because they weren't sure what their future would be if they didn't take the buyout. Some were not anywhere near ready to retire,” Holman said. “There are still opportunities for people regardless of their age. The industry needs good, experienced professionals, whether they are land men, engineers or geologists.”
“Chesapeake has a very good set of experienced personnel, both young and old. You worked hard and were involved in a lot of different plays, garnering a lot of experience along the way. That experience can carry over to other companies or work forces.”
Holman said he has had several opportunities to work for existing companies but that he didn't consider those options.
“I was not going to go back to work for someone, but this was a perfect situation to be able to call a lot of the shots and work for myself and my partners,” he said. “It's a lot more relaxed and a less-stressful atmosphere.”