Oklahoma Oilmen Series: Pete Brown - 6/23/2014

Sixty-seven years is a long time to be in any profession and still be going strong. It also provides plenty of insight into what it takes to succeed as an Oklahoma Oilman. It might be surprising to some that highly-respected oilman Pete Brown wasn’t necessarily born and raised in the oilfield. His story began in college at the University of Oklahoma. 

“After attending a meeting where an industry spokesman told us about land work, I decided to change my major and the rest is history,” said Brown.

Brown got into the Petroleum Land Management program at OU, and after graduating, he got his first job at Cities Service Oil Company in Bartlesville. In 1969, he became Division Land Manager of Inexco Oil in Oklahoma City before starting his own business with his partner, Gerald Borelli, in 1972. Brown & Borelli, Inc., is an independent oil and natural gas exploration and production firm, which is still operating out of Kingfisher today. Brown also co-owns Cimarron Production Company Inc., another exploration and production company, based out of Oklahoma City.

Having been in the industry so long, Brown has seen both good times for the industry and bad times. Most notably, in the early 1980s he says many companies had to file for bankruptcy and the Penn Square Bank failed due to an “oil glut.” Brown says he was able to anticipate the crash by being fortunate enough to travel abroad.

“Prior to the crash I had attended the wedding of one of my wife’s cousins in southern France where I met a gentleman who owned oil tankers. He told me ‘I have three tankers loaded with Saudi oil and I cannot find a buyer for the crude.’” Brown said. “I returned to Oklahoma and sold all the pipe inventory we had and released the rig with which we had been drilling wells. That put us in a good cash position, and when the crash occurred, we made several purchases of bankrupt companies’ production.”

Brown has also seen the rise of new technology that is transforming the industry today.

“It’s no question the shale revolution is the biggest change that has occurred in the industry over the course of my career,” said Brown.

Even though his companies have tried every new technology, from horizontal drilling to 3-D seismic, he says he has learned they are not always the best way to go.

“The end result is that even with this new technology we are finding ourselves continuing to drill conventional reservoirs vertically as we see a greater rate of return than the unconventional plays,” said Brown. “The trade off is a little higher risk factor.”

Brown’s impact on the Oklahoma oil industry does not end on the business side. He has also been an integral part of the OERB and a proponent of voluntarily cleaning up abandoned and orphaned well sites.

“Pete Brown has played a significant role in the success of the OERB,” said OERB Executive Director Mindy Stitt.  “He was there in the beginning when the OERB was just an idea; and he is still providing valuable input today, serving on the public education committee.  He has served in more leadership roles on the board than any other member. Pete Brown is a true champion for the industry.”

For those just starting in the industry, Brown says it’s important to learn as much as you can.

“I would recommend seeking employment with a large independent and learning as much as they can about all phases of oil and natural gas exploration regardless of their degree,” he said. “They may find that working for a company is their thing or they may see an opportunity to jump out on their own as I did in 1972.”

Thank you, Pete, for all you have done for the OERB and for the industry and over the past sixty-seven years!