Windows on the World of Raymond Plank
Founder, Apache Corp
Vol. 2011 No. 8



Between founding Apache in December 1954 and our first drilling program in 1956, I worked with a drilling contractor who drilled our wells and operated them.  If my memory correctly serves me, on coming up with a small Red Fork producer named the Bradley Rafferty #1in the shadows of Cushing, Oklahoma, Ben Novak applied the first said frac job I’d experienced nearly 57 years ago. 


In the interim the oil and gas industry has advanced technology to a point where deeper shale reservoirs in the U.S. and Canada have the potential of meeting domestic oil and gas requirements into the next century.


None of us in the industry need be reminded of what benefits technology could bring the U.S. and Canada as we go about our business in the face of hostility and indifference.  Those less aware of our present gridlock fail to appreciate how drilling technology advances would further benefit mankind if allowed by government and leftists with other agendas.


·     Improved living standards, while maintaining those of American citizens comprising 5% of earth’s now 7 billion humans as we consume 25% of the oil, gas, and condensate.


·     National security - as we rely more on our and Canada’s resource base, less dependence on the troubled Near East. 


·     Jobs, jobs, and more jobs versus added unemployment and fears engendered.


·     A boom to the economy if the industry is allowed by our government (including its agencies) to proceed.


Obviously when our industry provides a job in the private sector which pays $60-$80 thousand dollars per year, plus benefits, those revenues offset the cost of a public servant, whose numbers continue to rise without corresponding benefit.


What’s more important, if we could reverse the present trend without a failed presidency, the morale would rise with increasing confidence and investment.  


On learning from the Chairman of an initiative I started which has sent 5,000 pre K-12 teachers to every continent and well over 100 countries, that North Dakota Governor Dalrymple had attended the same independent school and university from which I graduated; I reached him by telephone and we spoke for half an hour.


Lately, the Bakken play in western North Dakota has ignited the state’s economy while serving as a poster child.  As those in the oil and gas business are well aware, hydraulic fracture treatment in the Southwest has been a great boom to oil, gas, and condensate production, significantly increasing jobs, thereby lifting all the boats above the muck.


Governor Dalrymple noted as follows.  N.D. has 17,000 infill positions, has 3.5% unemployment, pipelines to build and wells to drill to depths well below the potable water zones.  The governor continued, while reducing the level of individual and corporate income taxes paid, he believes all citizens should pay some income taxes, as do I.  In addition real estate and personal property taxes have been reduced encouraging small business formation.


While N.D. agriculture has been favored with more rainfall in recent years, oil and gas production comprises but 25% of state revenues.


He pointed to large new factories of John Deere and Caterpillar, and the increased numbers of small businesses across the state.  Only the U.S. has private ownership of royalty interests, perhaps exceeding 1 million persons, each and most of whom have an interest in their revenues and the economy of our country.


That which I propose directly involves two resources: employees within our industry and portions of the royalty owners who grow in numbers with inheritance.


The industry knows who their mineral owners are and their approximate numbers, perhaps 10-20,000 per independent energy company, to whom I’m writing. 


Need I say more?  Hopefully not, but I do have a related set of dots to connect.  I have yet to know a geophysicist or scientist who fortunately for me, was not a teacher. 


I’m not at all confident that my memoir due to be published by May 1st will make any hit parade.  Timely, yes.  Well-written and interesting, maybe.  Editors have helped address the weaknesses.  The point I wish to make, however, is that the publisher has agreed to discuss the price, and instead of accepting any royalties, the equivalent of the author’s share will go to charities in the form of discounts in the purchase price with any of the author’s share of cash royalties going to charitable interests.  Do I know the title?  “A Small Difference.”


With respect to making a small difference as a hopeful optimist perhaps you’ll join me in writing as many Congressmen in and beyond your state a positive message.  You could start writing letters anytime, a few a day. 

What if, instead of being a spectator sport, such as football, instead of waiting to get on the playing field after the game, employees and royalty owners wrote letters (not signed petitions) to members of the House and Senate in their words to the point where each of the 435 House members and 100 Senators received a hundred or more letters?

A waste of time and 44¢ stamps; the post office department seems to need revenues anyway, and the middle class Americans can make a difference.

In the next “Windows” more on the above. 

Merry Christmas!

Raymond Plank