Editor’s note: We’ll finish running all Rising Stars Class of 2021 profiles this week. Today, we profile Brendan Paton.
Although he has spent the bulk of his industry career in a bear market, 32-year-old Brendan Paton likes being a bit of a contrarian.
“About three years ago I left Shell and very much made a conscious decision to stay in oil and gas,” says the recently-appointed vice-president of engineering at Spartan Delta Corp., an intermediate oil and gas producer. “Many people were leaving the industry, and having to find ways to pivot, and I had those thoughts as well and was considering going to business school to pivot out of oil and gas.”
Paton, though, was convinced the business would continue to be an important part of the economy for years to come. “And I just thought that [for] those who could persevere through the tough times that there would be rewards for that,” he says. “I thought there would be good entrepreneurial opportunities and opportunities to become a leader in the business if you can make it through that.”
A graduate in mechanical engineering from the University of British Columbia, Paton says he fell in love with the business when he did various placements in the field while in university. “Looking back on it, the oil and gas business feels like the ultimate board game in some ways,” he says. “I love the technical aspects of geology and engineering combined and then the business overlay of it all.”
Lately, Paton has become fascinated with the commodity and macro economic aspects of the business. Lacking formal training in geology, he also has been trying to teach himself about it and learn from others over the years.
“Being successful in this industry … is stepping out and incrementally adding [production] through technology and through better understanding of geology,” he says. “It’s kind of combining all those things and putting that puzzle together.”
Spartan Delta is forecasting production of 70,000 boe/d in 2022, up from about 250 boe/d following the recapitalization of Return Energy Inc. in late 2019. The growth has been mainly through acquisitions, beginning with the assets of Bellatrix Exploration Ltd. in April 2020 and more recently Velvet Energy Ltd., a Montney light oil producer. The company also holds gas weighted liquids-rich assets in the Deep Basin.
Paton has been heavily involved in leading the evaluations of 10 acquisitions, ranging in value from $100,000 to nearly $750 million. “Those have been really fast-paced and amazing learning experiences ... and quite rewarding when you get through those.”
“Personally, something that’s important to me, and I think [has] been valuable through my career is to be constantly learning, curious, and then kind of knowing when to take some calculated risks, and then when you see some of those calculated risks working, that’s the time to kind of lean in on that a little bit,” he says. “I think that strategy has worked well.”
Paton also plays a key role in the planning and execution of Spartan Delta’s roughly $300 million capital budget for 2022. “I very much like the feeling of building something,” he says. “It does feel like we’re building a big company here at Spartan and I enjoy that.”
As for innovation, over the past seven years, everyone within the conventional E&P business has been forced to innovate to reduce their full-cycle costs to maintain a sustainable business, says Paton. “Spartan has been no different, where we’re trying to push technology, longer wells, more cost-effective wells, and pushing to find the best parts of the play and consolidating there.”
“That’s the strategy everyone’s been doing. And those who have been successful doing it, I think, are the companies that are that are still around.”
Five years down the road, Paton hopes he will still be at Spartan. “I’m an entrepreneur at heart and I think I can continue being an entrepreneur at Spartan for the foreseeable future,” he says. “Our goal is to build a big and sustainable business and I think there’s still lots we can do and lots of growth ahead of us. And so I’m excited about those opportunities.”
Although Paton expects the current themes of energy transition and ESG (environment, social and governance) will become more and more relevant, he also thinks the E&P business and the core oil and gas production business isn’t going away but will still be a big part of the economy.
“I believe that we’re in a bit of a structural bull market here, for the next maybe seven years, but I don’t think that volatility is going away for any number of reasons and I think we need to be prepared for that over the next 10 years.”
Rising Stars: Sponsors
Fluor has provided engineering, procurement, fabrication, construction, and project management services to Canada’s energy industry for 72 years. Its 43,000 employees globally (and 3,000+ across Canada) deliver comprehensive services — from conceptual design through to commissioning and maintenance — for all types and sizes of facilities. Fluor applies its broad expertise, extensive experience, and proven technology to benefit Canada’s energy transition in areas such as liquefied natural gas, carbon capture, hydrogen, renewable fuels, small modular reactors, and minerals mining. Fluor is committed to positively contributing to Canada’s energy tomorrow by focusing on safe and sustainable solutions today. This commitment includes focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion to ensure opportunities represent the diversity of Canada’s population and support reconciliation, partnerships, and benefit-sharing with Indigenous peoples.
geoLOGIC systems ltd.
geoLOGIC systems ltd. is based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and has been providing high-quality, integrated data and analytics to the upstream oil and gas industry in Western Canada and elsewhere for almost 40 years. geoLOGIC’s relentless focus on innovation, quality, and service has made it the trusted standard in the upstream Canadian industry. Customers include exploration and production companies in oil & gas and related products; pipeline and midstream companies; service companies; the financial sector government and regulatory organizations, and educational institutions. Key products include geoSCOUT, a decision-support tool providing high quality data and analytics for all disciplines within the oil and gas industry, and gDC, geoLOGIC’s comprehensive upstream oil and gas database.