Right Place, Right Time

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oil has tanked. lucky for bryan sh­effield that his wells are in one of the best places left to drill.

Be­fore the Big plunge in oil prices, Bryan Sh­effield had al­ready de­cided to move the head­quar­ters of his Pars­ley En­ergy from dusty Mid­land, Tex. to a brand-new of­fice tower in hip­per Austin. Now he’s a lit­tle sheep­ish about his bird’s-eye view of kayak­ers on the Colorado River. “This is a $100-a-bar­rel-of-oil of­fice,” he says. Oil sells at half that to­day, so how ex­actly has he got­ten so com­fort­able in his new seat of power?

Pars­ley con­trols 120,000 acres in the Per­mian Basin, which stretches from West Texas into New Mex­ico. You can still turn a profit there with $50-a-bar­rel oil thanks to ex­ist­ing pipelin­e­and-drilling in­fra­struc­ture. Plus, much of the basin’s re­serves had re­mained out of reach un­til re­cent tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances made it pos­si­ble for Pars­ley and oth­ers to drill hor­i­zon­tally. That lu­cra­tive combo has en­abled shares in the com­pany to dou­ble over the past few months, push­ing Sh­effield’s 20% stake north of $1 bil­lion.

Sh­effield, 38, founded Pars­ley dur­ing oil’s record run in 2008 after tak­ing over 109 old Texas oil wells that his grand­fa­ther had drilled around Mid­land back in the 1960s and ’70s. There was still plenty of oil un­der­neath those wells, and Pars­ley picked up more leases for a song dur­ing the brief price crash in 2009. Five years later, Sh­effield took the com­pany public.

With Grandpa Joe’s wells smack-dab in the mid­dle of one of Amer­ica’s last pros­per­ous oil patches, Pars­ley has sold more than $1 bil­lion of new stock in the past year to fi­nance its am­bi­tious pro­duc­tion goal: a 50% in­crease from a year prior, to 34,000 bar­rels per day. “We are for­tu­nate—lucky,” Sh­effield says. “It comes down to hav­ing the best rock in­side the best play in the United States.”

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