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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

/articleid/3768237/1/pictures/1987541">Photo - Chaparral Energy Inc.’s headquarters in Oklahoma City is shown.  PHOTO BY PAUL B. SOUTHERLAND, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES
Chaparral Energy Inc.’s headquarters in Oklahoma City is shown. PHOTO BY PAUL B. SOUTHERLAND, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES

Chaparral has remained focused on oil even when most producers concentrated on natural gas as prices surged before plummeting in the past three years.

Oil represents about 65 percent of Chaparral's reserves and about 60 percent of its current production.

“I generally always had the opinion that oil is a global commodity while gas is a national commodity,” Fischer said. “When you look at these oil plays now, the amount of oil we're going to generate is very significant from a U.S. standpoint, but from a global perspective, it's only about six percent. Chances are good that we are not going to see a large oil price drop like we saw with gas.”

Public possibilities

While the state's largest publicly traded energy companies tend to grab the most attention, Chaparral and the state's privately held energy companies contribute heavily to the economy and the state's energy industry, said Jake Dollarhide, CEO of Tulsa-based Longbow Asset Management Co.

“Small businesses and privately held companies are the lifeblood of our economy,” Dollarhide said. “They're what keep everything going. The high-profile publicly traded names get the attention, but it's the small business and big businesses that are privately held that are able to take the risk and do things that public companies can't do.”

Chaparral for years has flirted with becoming publicly traded. Fischer said he expects to complete an initial public offering in 2014.

“Because we have been around for 25 years, many of our shareholders have gotten older,” Fischer said. “With that, they are beginning to ask for a liquidity event that would allow them to derive the benefits of what has been expended. We could look at an IPO, or we could look at the sale of the company.

“I've been very pro-oriented to an IPO as opposed to a sale. Chaparral has been my baby from the start. I would like to see it continue to be a large player in the Mid-Continent and in Oklahoma.”

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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