Industry Update on the Permian Basin Jim Nelson & Larry Richards

November 22, 2023

In this special episode, we bring together two prominent voices in the Permian Basin oil and gas industry to provide listeners with a 360-degree view of this dynamic sector. Larry Richards, the 2023 PBIOS President, and Jim Nelson, Chairman, CEO, and President of Warren Equipment Company, share their perspectives on current industry trends, technological advancements, environmental considerations, and the future of the Permian Basin.


Listen on Spotify     Listen on Google     Listen on Apple


Industry Update on the Permian Basin Jim Nelson & Larry Richards - Ep 24 - Transcript


00:00:00 Jordan Yates
This episode of the Energy Pipeline is sponsored by Caterpillar Oil and Gas. Since the 1930s, Caterpillar has manufactured engines for drilling production, well service and gas compression. With more than 2100 dealer locations worldwide, Caterpillar offers customers a dedicated support team to assist with their premier power solutions.

00:00:26 Speaker 2
The Energy Pipeline is your lifeline to all things oil and gas, to drill down deep into the issues impacting our industry. From the frack site to the future of sustainability, hear more about industry issues, tools and resources to streamline and modernize the future of oil and gas. Welcome to the Energy Pipeline.

00:00:48 Jordan Yates
Hello, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of the Energy Pipeline. It is me, your host, Jordan Yates, recording from PBIOS, the Permian Basin International Oil Show. I'm very excited to be here with two pretty impressive guests. We have Larry Richards, the 2023 PBIOS President, and Jim Nelson, the chairman, CEO and President at the Warren CAT Company. Gentlemen, how are we doing today?

00:01:18 Larry Richards

00:01:18 Jim Nelson

00:01:19 Jordan Yates
Amazing. Larry, since you are kind of in charge of this whole show, how do you think it's been going so far?

00:01:27 Larry Richards
Fantastic. I mean, we're thrilled with the attendance so far. We expect over 25, 000. It's always just a symphony of big equipment and personnel moving in during the couple of days beforehand, and you don't see how it could possibly come together 24 hours in advance, but it does. And we do it all with over 150 leaders from across our industry that serve as a volunteer board of directors that do everything here, and 750 exhibitors come together, put all this equipment together, and good Lord took care of the weather. So we're thrilled. It's a great showing.

00:02:03 Jordan Yates
Yeah. Speaking of big equipment, Jim, your booth here, I mean, big equipment is an understatement. What did you think when you came and you got to see all of these big engines, AI and earth moving materials here?

00:02:16 Jim Nelson
It's awesome. That's what we do for a living, right? So big boy toys. Yeah, no, it's great, and people are out here excited to talk about some of the great things we're doing.

00:02:28 Jordan Yates
Very cool. Well, since I have two awesome leaders from our industry here, we wanted to do an industry update and ask you guys some questions, get your perspectives and an update on what's going on in the Permian right now. So I'm going to start with Larry. Could you provide a snapshot of the current state of the Permian Basin oil and gas industry?

00:02:51 Larry Richards
Yeah, we're so fortunate. I mean, earlier in my career, the overwhelming majority of the innovation happened in the deep offshore or international market, and I spent a lot of time in those markets earlier in my career. Today, the last five to seven years, 90% of the major innovations are happening right here within 150 miles of Ector County Coliseum, and the entire world is coming in learning from us on how we're doing these next generation wells, that the equipment to complete and produce them is light years ahead of what we had to do before, because they're different. They're a different animal. And we're constantly learning, innovating, but the raw entrepreneurial spirit of West Texas and the work ethic out here just drives innovation. And it's so cool to see the advancements, just show to show. I mean, we've got stuff out here, this didn't exist two years ago in the industry, and to be able to capture that gas that might otherwise be flared out in the field, it's a really cool time to be on our industry, especially in the Permian Basin.

00:03:51 Jordan Yates
Yeah, absolutely, Larry. Love your enthusiasm. Jim, how are you feeling about the energy landscape in the Permian Basin over the last few years?

00:03:59 Jim Nelson
Well, I mean, it's amazing, really. I mean, the opportunities that companies have to operate here to provide services to all the major oil and gas companies and independents. And I think, I keep telling our guys and our team, we talk about a 10- year run. I mean, we think the next 10 years are going to be amazing. Obviously you've seen some of the acquisitions that have been made recently. Certainly the big announcement this past week with the ExxonMobil's acquisition of Pioneer. You're going to see more of that, and I think it's just going to accelerate even more. You're going to have huge capital investment continue to be made out here. So we're excited that our territory is West Texas and Oklahoma, so we're right in the heart of it and looking forward to continuing to provide great solutions to our customers.

00:04:46 Jordan Yates
Absolutely. And I'm not an economist, but I thought it was pretty crazy that Pioneer got acquired. I thought they were a big player, and I was like, someone's buying them? My goodness. The industry is always surprising me.

00:04:56 Jim Nelson

00:04:57 Jordan Yates
Okay, so a big topic that I've always thought was interesting, especially since I've gotten in the marketing side of this industry, is trade shows. Clearly we're at one. You guys must both support it in some way. I'm curious about how you guys see the relevancy of trade shows in this industry. Larry, we'll start with you, since you're the president of this one. I mean, some people think, are trade shows going away, or are they dying, or are they still just as relevant? Could you share your thoughts on that?

00:05:26 Larry Richards
I can't speak for all industries. I can't speak for all parts of the country. I can say with my own companies, for the last 35 years, I have put equipment in trade shows across the industry. I had, in a previous life, one of the largest booths in the middle of OTC, and I've had them in Norway, Calgary, and all over the US. And the reason they're so relevant still today is because it allows attendees to come and actually put their hands on the equipment and understand it and listen to people who are passionate about the new technology and what's being driven into it. We've got so much cool tech here, this show, from the big heavy horsepower that suddenly can use 80% natural gas or 100% natural gas on your gen sets, but to things that we're reducing emissions and any kind of methane that's going to the atmosphere, to all this water movement stuff. Y'all got all the construction equipment to build the water midstream businesses that didn't exist 10 years ago. We were moving it all by truck. And there's so much new technology that's being driven that you can't just get on the internet. You can, and that's what God made engineers for, is to read all the technical data, but most people, to really understand it, to come out and actually see it and talk to people who are passionate about it and understand it, it's a completely different experience. That's why we've been sold out ever since I've been on the board, and I've been on the board 20 years, but we sold out months ago, every booth space. We have 1100 booth spaces here. We have 750 exhibitors, over 25 acres. Every one's taken, and we got a waiting list. And we already have a waiting list for next show.

00:07:05 Jordan Yates

00:07:05 Larry Richards
So I don't think our trade show's going anywhere, but I think it's relevant because there is a difference when you can physically go put your hands on it.

00:07:14 Jordan Yates
Yeah, absolutely. And then, it's always great to get a bunch of free koozies and put your card in so you can win a cooler. I mean, I didn't realize coolers were such a hot commodity out here until every single booth, you can win a cooler. So I think that's definitely a fun little thing going on. But Jim, what do you think is the significance of Warren CAT being at an event like this?

00:07:37 Jim Nelson
Well, I mean, I'll build on, I guess, what Larry said. I mean, in the world today, it's a high- tech world, but people still want high touch, and it's still all about relationships. And so, the best way to do that is in person and seeing people and talking about what you're doing. We couldn't go out and demo this equipment for customers. I mean, go out to 50 customer sites and do it all. I mean, it's better to be all in one spot and have them come to us in this particular case, in the trade show, and be able to explain. A lot of people learn by visual learning. This is a visual learning exercise. And so, we still think there's value in the trade show. There's value in just, we had our VIP event last night for our customers, and again, that's a relationship- driven thing around this event. So they're still very relevant, especially in the equipment business. It's good for us.

00:08:35 Jordan Yates
Absolutely. And yeah, like you said, the idea of being able to see this physically, because I know video is very popular these days, but I feel like you can't really capture the essence of how large and robust this equipment is in a video. It's so cool to actually see it in person and think, if that thing fell over, that's going to make some noise.

00:08:54 Jim Nelson
And like I said, people are visual learners. Most of our mechanics are visual learners. They take something apart, they can put it back together. It's the same way most people learn. They go look at it and they go, oh, that's how that does that. Oh, okay. I understand now. So we give that opportunity to come out and do that.

00:09:11 Jordan Yates
Yeah, no, that's amazing. And Warren CAT is playing a really big role right now in the region of new technology. I mean specifically the DGB engines. Those have been pretty hot topic for the last couple of days, of people I've interviewed. Can you tell me more about how you guys feel that you are contributing to the innovation of this industry?

00:09:28 Jim Nelson
Yeah, I think. The dynamic gas blending is the DGB engine. We take a diesel engine and you're able to substitute up to 80% natural gas. We all want cleaner emissions, clean air, so certainly the emissions coming out of gas are better than diesel. Just the whole electrification of the oil field is a big topic today. And so, we're playing in that from several angles, whether it's selling a DGB engine to a frack customer to put on their trailer, or even electric gen sets. A lot of them are using electric motor drive pumps now and they need electricity. Not going to get it from the grid most likely, so we will put a mobile gen set out there that's gas, 100% gas.

00:10:09 Larry Richards
And even if they get it from the grid, it has spikes and surges and can tear up their own sophisticated electrical equipment. So the gen set's just smooth.

00:10:17 Jim Nelson
Exactly. So you want reliable power, clean power, and so we can provide that. The best thing we're doing with our customers is just partnering with them in what we call a field follow program. So we'll put technology out there, we'll follow that in the field and make sure it's doing what we said it's going to do. They understand the technology better, and then we go into production with it. So we've got several projects that we're working on that are in field follow with our customers today to try to achieve their goals. Everybody's got an ESG metric that if they're a public company today, and some private companies are focused on that as well. So we're able to help them meet their goals. Caterpillar bought a company here recently called Carbon Point, which is a carbon capture, and then we've got a couple projects we're working on with CAT and that entity to help some of our customers do that as well. So there's a whole electrification and sustainability division of Caterpillar that's focused on bringing these solutions to market. So we're here with them and with our customers, and trying to help them achieve their goals.

00:11:16 Jordan Yates
Yeah, that's a nice thing about the B2B market, is that you guys do have such sophisticated customers that you can have this very high technology that you're giving to them and then have the faith that they can implement it in a responsible manner. So I find that to be a good thing. So back to you, Larry. Questions about the infrastructure, collaboration, workforce. There's always a hot topic of the industry's up and down, and when it's up, we just cannot get people fast enough. What have you seen in those trends in the Permian Basin with the workforce? What's going on right now?

00:11:54 Larry Richards
Well, we've had such great work done by our local colleges and universities, and the oil show, we've been fortunate enough, we donated$ 282,000.

00:12:04 Jordan Yates

00:12:04 Larry Richards
We're a nonprofit, but last year we donated$282, 000 to UTPB, Midland College, Odessa College and Texas Tech for their programs. And we love mechanical engineers coming out of UTPB and Tech. But even more importantly, we love the truck drivers and the welders and all these different technical trades that they're training people that already live here, and all of a sudden have the skillset they want to stay here, and they're joining our workforce. So that's been a fantastic addition for us. It's something that we always struggle with because of the cycles. But one of the other things, reason I donate my time to the show is it's so important for these local companies to have diverse markets across the United States and selling internationally, to where when we have those cycles, they can retain their people because they've got selling in markets overseas that are on longer cycle times. And my Midland- based business that I ran for 12 years, we were able to go through all the sectors without a single layoff because 55% of our business was international, and a lot of those people met here at this show. And so, that's something we're trying to do for the local manufacturers, to where they can offset those cycles, keep their people here, because they've all learned, if you've got the people in place and you've continued to get the service, when the market comes back, you're going to do fantastic. But the key is, how do you weather those cycles? And I think we play a big part in helping companies do that.

00:13:31 Jordan Yates
That's really cool. I love that you guys are so thoughtful about being involved in recruiting from local colleges, because I went to Texas Tech myself, and I remember I loved going to the engineering job fair. I just felt like it was Christmas. All the companies you want to work for lined up, and it was so, so cool. And I felt like I had a leg up on a lot of my friends who went other places, because I'm like, I'm right next to the Permian Basin. I am in it, to where if I wanted to get a job afterwards, or an internship, it felt so accessible. Now, I graduated in 2020, so it didn't work out too well for oil and gas. But nonetheless, I still saw a lot of people getting jobs, and I think it's so great that even two hours north, we're still looped into the community here because it is so strong. So I love to see that. I'm going to bring it back over to you, Jim. I am curious about if you have any examples of collaborations or partnerships in the Permian Basin specifically, and how they've kind of advanced in their sector?

00:14:31 Jim Nelson
Well, specifically I talked about earlier, the field follow stuff we're doing with our customers. Obviously the Permian Strategic Partnership, which is a great organization that's doing a lot for the communities around here, where all the oil and gas and service companies operate. We try to go into our customers and understand what their goals are, but also what their risk profile is, and so we can help them try to eliminate that risk profile as well. So we're partnering different ways today of not just billing for a monthly service, but we're taking risk with the customer to say, okay, if you produce or need X amount at KW per hour, we'll sell it to you at cents per hour. So we're taking some of their risk off the table of having to go out and capture that infrastructure somewhere else. So those are the kinds of projects we're doing. Power by the hour. Customer who rents a machine today, typically they'd pay, okay, you're going to pay$10, 000 a month. Well, now we'll go in and say, okay, your whole fleet needs for this project are X. We can look at giving you a power by the hour. So when you're using the machine, you pay for it. When you're not, we've got some base rate, but it gives them a way to lock in their costs and take risk off the table.

00:15:46 Jordan Yates
That's pretty sweet.

00:15:47 Jim Nelson
And when you've got a variable price commodity like oil and gas, it's nice for them to be able to match some of their cost to the risk of how they're getting paid.

00:15:57 Jordan Yates
Absolutely. And that must take a lot of planning on your end to make sure that you guys remain profitable while you're giving these steady prices to your customers.

00:16:06 Jim Nelson
Yeah. It's a different sales cycle and a different type of approach. It's not just handing a quote to a customer now. We've got to understand their business better than they do in some cases, so we understand the risk profile we're getting into.

00:16:21 Jordan Yates
Absolutely. And you've been with Warren CAT for about 20 years now, is that correct?

00:16:26 Jim Nelson
Yes. Yeah. 24.

00:16:27 Jordan Yates
24. Okay, my bad. 24. That is very impressive. Would you say, in terms of workforce, that you've seen any new trends over the last few years of maybe recruiting, or the talent that's available, or I don't know if that's related enough to your day job, or is that something that you're looped in on?

00:16:46 Jim Nelson
Yeah. Our philosophy is talent wins, and so if we have the best talent, we're going to win in the marketplace. So we spend a lot of time on not only recruiting new folks to come work for us, but also retaining people. We just built a new training center down at our family ranch in central Texas, that our technicians go down there and do their training now for a week and get to fish a little bit and drink a beer on the back porch, and it's pretty... We're just those types of things. The workforce today is motivated by different things than maybe when I first came in the workforce, and it's just different. I tell people, it's not good or bad, it's just different, and you got to understand what motivates people and try to figure out that. And if we do that, then we can keep them with us. Without great people, I tell our folks, all we are is buildings and inventory, and that's not very exciting, right? So if we don't have great people, we're not going to win, and our customer's going to be very disappointed.

00:17:51 Jordan Yates
Absolutely. And on the workforce topic, I find it so interesting, my generation, I'm sure you've heard this term so, so many times, work- life balance. I don't feel like that goes super hand in hand with how the culture of oil and gas has always been, because this is fast- paced. This is like, you are showing up, like you said, middle of the night, like you are doing the most for your customers. Have you seen any shifts since this whole, I guess, discussion on work- life balance has come into the picture, or are we still pretty hardcore out here in Midland? Then either of you can answer. I'm just curious, genuinely, myself.

00:18:24 Jordan Yates
It's good question. I'll launch into that black hole first, I guess. But it is. I think one of the things that defines the Permian Basin is the work ethic, and it is... Every day, I don't worry about machines taking over our jobs out here anytime soon, because you're hit with three problems every morning before noon that didn't exist 48 hours before. But especially with our customers, when they've got downtime, it could cost them a half a million dollars in a day, or a million dollars in a day, and so you have a sense of urgency. But I think at least the young people that work for my company, there's no better time for opportunities for young people in this industry, and young entrepreneurs starting new companies. I do recommend they go work for another company that's best in class for years, and get some of their scars using other people's money, and move and learn the business. But there's not a better time in the history of our country, in this region of the US, for young people to have just an amazing career where they get, it's almost like the military. You get so much responsibility so early in your career out here, because the stakes are high, but the opportunities are high. And it's a lot of fun, but it's not for the timid. And it is fast and furious, but the ones that are willing to jump in that can just do phenomenally well.

00:19:47 Jordan Yates
What are your thoughts on that, Jim?

00:19:49 Jim Nelson
I definitely agree with that. The opportunities are still great in this industry, and specifically out here in the Permian. The work- life balance thing, I've got an opinion on work- life, but there is no work- life balance. You have to make choices, right? And so, sometimes you make choices in favor of your family, and sometimes you make in favor of your employer. I don't think, to me, the newer generation that's working today, probably the first time some employees have told us, " No, I'm not going to do that." Well, okay, well that's a new one. So you kind of step back and go, okay, understand why. Well, I've got a commitment, my mother's ill or my child's ill, or I've got a soccer game to coach. Okay. And so again, I go back to my theory is that it's not good or bad, it's just different, and you just got to figure out how to work with it. Because I can tell you that some of the young folks today can do three things at once, multitask, that people of my generation don't do that very well. I mean, just texting is a challenge for some of us, right? So you just got to understand and adapt. I mean, and that's great about this industry in oil and gas. I mean, when I first moved out here in 1998, we were going to roll up the streets and it was over in 1999. Everybody was moving back to Houston, and oil was at$ 10, and we thought, okay, it's over. And then all of a sudden, new technology comes along and okay, we can produce this stuff and do it differently. And so, with the advent of the seismic advent, the horizontal drilling, super hydraulic fracking, I mean, it revolutionized. And this is gen two of that. Gen three is going to be even more impressive. And as we go into this, we know it's all on the ground now. Now it's almost a manufacturing world to figure out how to get it out there out of the ground in the most efficient way. And with all the capital being thrown out here now, I think you're going to see even more innovation. And so, why not come in this industry if you want to be... Everybody wants to say, I want to be in the high- tech world. Well, you're in the high- tech world in this world.

00:22:02 Jordan Yates
Absolutely. Yeah, I know, more than ever too, because I feel like back in 2019- ish is when I had my first oil and gas job, and then now I'm more manufacturing. But a couple years ago I saw a robot on a rig and I was like, excuse me? My worlds are colliding. This is amazing. And I think work- life balance is possibly some people's first priority and will stop them from joining an industry like this. But others, like you said, it's the entrepreneurial spirit of there is money to make. There are things to achieve, and all of that is here, and you can just come and get it if you're willing to work for it. And I personally, I've always been a hard worker. I love that mentality. So I think that it's cool, and I don't think that we necessarily have to fully be different and slow down because there are people telling us to, because we still have enough people who are willing to work, and I think that that's exciting. Now, the oil field obviously has very profound economic impact in, I mean, Midland for sure, but surrounding areas as well. Can you guys tell us some of the economic benefits and challenges that are associated with being in this industry? Because I feel like when it's high, it's high. When it's low, it's low. How do we sometimes find that middle ground?

00:23:12 Jim Nelson
You want to take that one? Well, I think, sure, as you go through cycles, you learn things. You talked about the scars that we all have from being in your first couple of cycles. So I just think you have to run your business different. You run probably leaner than you need to at times, but knowing that there's going to be a cycle. But the important thing to always remember is it's up until the right, still the graph is. There's going to be lots of aberrations in between, and you've just got to figure out that when you've got a low cycle, you got to keep your talent employed and you got to keep your equipment up, and you do certain things in the low cycles. As we always talk about, you manage in bad times for good and good times for bad. You think about your trough plan when things are good, and when things are bad, you're thinking about, we're about ready to, we're one day closer to things busting loose, so let's get some people hired and let's make sure we got our equipment ready and let's get ready to go. So yeah, it's a boom- bust mentality. Cycle is hard to manage in, but once you kind of learn the lessons and what leverage to pull, it's not that hard.

00:24:24 Jordan Yates
You get used to it after a while, after enough cycles?

00:24:26 Jim Nelson
Emotionally it's really hard, but from a business standpoint, it's not that hard.

00:24:33 Jordan Yates
What are your thoughts on that?

00:24:34 Larry Richards
I agree with that, and there's great opportunities I've found in both sides of the cycle. There really are, but you do have to prepare, and you have to... I've watched multiple ones in my career, and two key indicators when the wheels are about to fall off is when everybody starts saying it's never going to go down again, all the prognosticators, and when you're on the Southwest flight and all of a sudden it moved from the really nice suits from the folks in Dallas and Houston, and the New York guys start showing up in the$5, 000 suits and their little different shoes, and you're like, all right, we're in trouble.

00:25:10 Jim Nelson
It's over.

00:25:11 Larry Richards
Yeah, that's a flare. But I've lived out here for 25 years and we've gotten, I think, a lot better as a community to prepare for those cycles and do some underpinnings, and the long- term investments that so many of the companies have made, like this latest one. When people are putting tens of billions of dollars in investment, they're not doing that for a year, they're doing that for decades worth of payback return. And we're better insulated than anywhere else, I think, in the United States, because like I said, we know the oil's there, and now it's just every time, new technologies to be able to extract it and do it commercially. Real quick story, but I graduated from Texas A and M as a business major, not a petroleum engineer, 1986, and my senior year at A and M convinced me` I wasn't a petty. But my first class petroleum engineering class in 1984 at A and M, the instructor told us all, he's like, " How many of you want to have your career outside the US?" Three or four kids out of the class raise their hand. He said, " If you didn't raise your hand, you're in the wrong room, because all oil that can be commercially gotten out of the United States will probably be done by the end of before you graduate." And that was 1984. So I think 30 years from now, 40 years from now, we're going to be extracting. There's no other energy source that's so dense as these hydrocarbon molecules. We've just got to get better at maximizing the capture of every one we bring to the surface, and doing it without emissions, and doing it recycling our water and being better stewards of the environment in our communities as we do it. But I think we'll weather the cycles, but this is going to be a great community for families to live in for a very long time.

00:26:57 Jordan Yates
I love that. I mean, both of you mentioned, the oil is there, we just have to go get it. How does it make you feel? And I'm not talking logistics, but you personally, when someone says we're going to be out of oil in the next five to 10 years, like it's going to be gone. How does that make you feel? Does your skin pitch a little?

00:27:14 Jim Nelson
You need to find a new textbook. You need to understand the rock a little better. I mean, I'm not a geologist, but everything that... The people we know in the industry are very comfortable, and you wouldn't see the capital investment out here if it's not there. So in my lifetime, there's going to be plenty here. Probably my children's lifetime. So I think we're going to be fine. I mean, 40% of the oil and gas that's produced in the United States today is produced in the Permian Basin.

00:27:45 Jordan Yates

00:27:47 Jim Nelson
This is the center of what happens, and there's still plenty of reserves out there. So maybe not the premium tier acreage wells that they've had, but there's still going to be a lot of opportunity.

00:27:59 Jordan Yates

00:27:59 Larry Richards
I think we definitely, we have the reserves, we have the technology to get it, and in terms of will we move out of hydrocarbons? Unless somebody invents low cost fusion, which is always possible, but until that happens, there's no more effective way to get energy than these hydrocarbon molecules that we're bringing to the surface. The key is how do you do it the right way? 55% of our global food production, crop production, is made from synthetic fertilizers from natural gas. I mean, 55% of what everyone eats, or for all crop production, and nobody talks about that. But when folks say, " Oh, all hydrocarbons are going to be ended 10 years from now." Well, you better have a plan for a whole lot of people to eat, because 55%, and 90% of everything that all three of us touched this morning from the time we got up and hit our alarm clock and brushed our teeth and drove here was all made with petrochemicals.

00:28:53 Jordan Yates

00:28:54 Larry Richards
And that's not going to go away in 10 years. And I'm all for all types of energy. We have more wind and solar in Texas than any other state in the country, and we need more energy. We want more low cost energy so everybody can have a standard... But hydrocarbons have allowed a standard of living that our grandparents or our great- grandparents couldn't have dreamed of. And all the men and women in this industry that are going to work every day are doing that for the country, and we're real proud to help them and be a part of it, because I think that we don't, as an industry, tell our message very well, but we have an incredible story to tell.

00:29:31 Jim Nelson
Well, and look what's happened in the last week, with what's going on in the Middle East. I mean, energy security for this country is because of what's happened happened out here in the Permian. So I mean, without that, oil prices... 20 years ago, oil prices would have been at$ 120 a barrel the day that happened. So it's a big socioeconomic and geopolitical thing. So it's a great industry to be in.

00:30:01 Jordan Yates
Yeah. It must be feeling pretty good during times like this to be like, yeah, I am in the oil and gas industry and I'm proud to be in it. I'm not going to be shamed out of it, because there's sometimes some bad context with it, but there's also just so much good happening, and I have a hard time seeing past the good. I just find it to be exciting. So that's why I like other people coming on, because I'll start getting too biased and I'm like, " It's amazing. There's nothing wrong with it. We're perfect." And they're like, " Okay, well, there's some downsides." And I'm like, " Okay, I guess we could talk about it." It is an educational podcast, got to stay center of the road.

00:30:33 Larry Richards
But that's why all this technology, you walk around... And we do have to continue to get better at being good stewards of, and not just the natural resource, which is an amazing gift, but how we deal with it when we get it to the surface. But there's so much new cool technology, including being able to use... I've spent most of my career trying to eliminate flares and vent gas across the world, and to see big stuff that can now utilize it at this show. You've got so many different pockets of technology that are all addressing it, just to that point, and that's where we appreciate y'all out here waving the flag and explaining some of it, because I think a lot of people don't realize that these innovations are happening.

00:31:14 Jordan Yates
Even if you're in the industry. I mean, there's so many sectors to it. You can't be an expert on all of it. That's why it's nice to have educational resources like this. But as we're getting to the end, I am looking for just a tad bit of advice from both of you to maybe young people that want to join the oil and gas industry, and maybe just some insights, or just a piece of advice in general for this. You could start over here.

00:31:39 Jim Nelson
Well, as we said, there's plenty of opportunity. So the biggest advice that I try to tell people is just find out what you're passionate about, and then it's not work. And so, if you can get in here and get passionate about our industry, there's going to be so much opportunity for you. As the thing in Midland has always been, the sky's the limit, and it really is. So I think you've just got to figure out what gets you excited and gets you out of bed, and if you're excited about your job, it's not going to be a job. You're going to get to go places and learn things. And so, that's my basic advice I tell my own children. I love this business. You may not love this business, but I do, and so it's not a job for me. I get to go out and see my favorite people every day. So I think that's a big piece of advice. But in addition to that, there's no replacement for going out and getting your hands dirty and seeing it out in the field. You can learn it in the textbook and you get a good base knowledge, but I really feel like you have to immerse yourself out there and be in the technology and be in the field to understand things, and to gain the respect of who you're going to lead someday.

00:32:57 Jordan Yates
Yeah, absolutely. Can't come in with clean boots, right?

00:33:00 Jim Nelson
You got to do your time.

00:33:03 Jordan Yates
Absolutely. What about you over here?

00:33:05 Larry Richards
And when you do that, you get a whole lot of respect for those men and women you're working with. My first two summers in this industry was a roustabout truck and an engineer training program, but I was in a roustabout truck in a heavy oil field, in the gas field, and I've never worked so hard in my life, but I've also never laughed so much on a job. We had a good time and it was fun. I would say probably two things, and I agree with both that Jim said. One, don't be afraid to ask for help and ask for people to mentor you. I was blessed. I've had some fantastic mentors across my career, and I've moved to different parts of the industry, but all the way through, I've had some people that invested in me. And we tried to do the same thing at our company. I'm sure y'all do as well. But ask for that help, because most people are thrilled, our age are thrilled to be able to help you come down the trail that we did, with maybe as not as many scars as we got along the way. But ask for that help and then pay it back yourself as you do it. The other piece I was going to say is honor your word. And your word is your bond, and you have a personal brand in addition to the brand of the company that you're representing. Keep in mind, you're always representing them, but this industry, it's really big. It's a lot of people, but you'll be amazed. I've run into people halfway around the world, when I'm in a project and all of a sudden there's two people on a project in the middle of nowhere, Russia or Argentina or whatever that I did on a project 10 years ago. And all of a sudden you have this level of trust and credibility, but it's because you honored your word and you followed through and everything else. And I think that a lot of young people don't hear that enough, that your ethics, your personal ethics and honoring your word and going out and working hard every day, if you'll do that, the sky's the limit. But it is a differentiator, and it's so important. It's probably important in all industries, but our industry especially, for sure, honoring your word. It seems like easy, but the key is to do it when it's not easy.

00:35:21 Jordan Yates
Yeah, absolutely.

00:35:23 Larry Richards

00:35:23 Jordan Yates
I love that. You guys, I'm feeling inspired. I'm going to go work hard. I don't know on what, but something.

00:35:31 Jim Nelson
At the end of the day, I wish we could still just shake hands and that was our deal. We didn't need a contract.

00:35:35 Jordan Yates
Oh, Lord.

00:35:37 Jim Nelson
Because it is true. I mean, it's, at the end of the day, it's your word. I love that. I think that's great.

00:35:43 Jordan Yates
Yeah. Well, guys, thank you so much for coming on the Energy Pipeline. Everybody listening, I hope that you enjoyed this. I mean, I know you did. Let's be real. This was a good episode. You guys did amazing. But thank you so much and we'll see you next week.

00:35:57 Speaker 2
Come back next week for another episode of the Energy Pipeline, a production of the Oil and Gas Global Network. To learn more, go to OGGN. com.


Jim Nelson Bio Image


Jim Nelson


On March 2, 2015, the Board of Directors of Warren Equipment Company (WEC) announced the election of James C. Nelson as President, CEO and Chairman of WEC. Mr. Nelson also remains the Dealer Principal and President of Warren CAT. Under his expanded leadership, Warren CAT and other Warren subsidiaries continue to aggressively address the needs of its construction, oil and gas, governmental and mining customers with world-class equipment, parts and service.

Before joining WEC, Mr. Nelson had a seven-year career in the investment business as a Financial Consultant in Dallas, Texas with Dean Witter Reynolds and Smith Barney, Harris Upham.

Mr. Nelson holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance from Michigan State University. He is the Past Chairman of The Cooperative Association of Tractor Dealers, Inc., a Financing Cooperative for Caterpillar dealers. He is an active member of the Advisory Council of the Moody College of Communication with the University of Texas. He leads several public education improvement initiatives in Midland, TX. Mr. Nelson is also a board member of The Scharbauer Foundation in Midland, TX and a board member of Mechanican, Inc. a startup focused on mobile service.

Larry Richards Bio Image


Larry Richards


Larry Richards is the president of the 2023 Permian Basin International Oilshow; where innovation and technology meet Permian Grit!  Larry has served many leadership roles throughout his 35 year career, and has built entrepreneurial teams and companies that have made a lasting and positive impact on the industry.  Before retiring last year he served as CEO and executive chairman of VanZandt Controls, helping build the company from $6M revenue to $51M in less than five years.  The Odessa based company sold in 2022; specializing in automated valves, flow meters and instrumentation.   Their innovations in automated wellhead valves and chokes, automated air skids and eliminating fieldwide pneumatics helped companies significantly reduce emissions on next generation wells across the U.S.  Prior to VanZandt, Richards was president and CEO of Midland based HY-BON Engineering; growing the company from a regional supplier of vapor recovery units to a globally recognized leader in vent gas management systems; with successful projects operating in over 25 countries and every oil producing region of the United States.  The HY-BON team built revenues from $4M to over $75M and reduced the lost time incident rate from 6.98 to 0.64 over his 12 year tenure.  Earlier in his career, Larry held executive leadership roles at Key Energy and Continental Emsco.   He is an outdoorsman and conservationist, and most enjoys time outdoors with his wife of 34 years Sondra and their sons, Parker & Weston. 

Jordan Yates Bio Image

Jordan YATES


Jordan Yates is a Marketing Engineer at a specialty ceramic capacitors company. Her interest in the sales and marketing side of the Manufacturing & Energy Industry have gained her recognition in the digital space, specifically LinkedIn. She is the host of her podcast, 'Failing For You' and The Energy Pipeline.