Right Place, Right Time
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.”