Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that HHEX has never been a shallow well operator, but a company focused on amassing land for unconventional development. Huntley & Huntley Inc., a separate company, is a shallow well operator.
The name, Huntley & Huntley Energy Exploration, was fine. But Chris Doyle and his corporate team wanted a change because their natural gas production company was changing.
Since its formation in 2012, Monroeville-based HHEX has been amassing acreage for unconventional development. (It should not be confused with Huntley & Huntley Inc., another company and a shallow well operator.) Doyle, who came on board as chief executive officer in 2016, had worked in the Appalachian Basin for 10 years and was well versed in the bountiful resources underground that could be accessed by unconventional drilling. That year, he and the brass began to shift gears.
“We were revamping and rethinking our development then,” Doyle said. “It took a couple of years to figure our development out. We didn’t drill our first well until 2018.”
In the interim, HHEX had relocated its headquarters to Southpointe in 2017, and later assumed a new name – Olympus, home of the Greek gods.
HHEX, a privately held independent company, was rechristened Olympus Energy LLC in late September. In a news release at the time, the firm said the change “signals the beginning of a new chapter for the company, focusing on the development of its assets and better reflects its vision for the future.”
In other words, Olympus was expressing a planned transformation to a chiseled Goliath in the Appalachian region, with each well pad named for a Greek god or goddess.
“We knew we had to differentiate ourselves from the company that did shallow wells,” said Doyle, who has since added the title of president. “We went to a naming procedure that landed on Greek gods and goddesses for our projects. Olympus made perfect sense.
“We strive to be an Olympic athlete every day as we work with our partners.”
That “athlete” has a massive “workout” area. Olympus has acquired 100,000 acres on which to operate, all in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Doyle said the firm had about 60,000 acres when he came on board more than three years ago, and has added largely through leasing.
“Marcellus Shale is our primary focus, but we’re very excited about Utica,” said Doyle, who was previously employed at Anadarko Petroleum and Chesapeake Energy, both public companies.
Olympus, he added, is focusing its production in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, but is operating “some” in Washington and Beaver counties. Production has ramped up – Doyle said the company has completed 11 wells this year, producing about 130 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. Olympus plans to drill another 10 or 11 wells next year.
He is pleased with the Olympus team, which includes more than 50 full-time employees and experienced leadership. Doyle works closely with Jennifer Hoffman, vice president of environment, health, safety and regulatory. Hoffman, who is based in Harrisburg, handles permitting processes with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and on the state and local levels. The two worked together at Chesapeake.
“We’ve pooled our talent from around the (Appalachian) basin – people we’ve worked with and people we’ve worked around,” he said. “We have a really strong team.”
Blackstone, a private equity firm, has been the majority owner of the company since its genesis more than seven years ago. Huntley & Huntley Inc., minority owner of Olympus, under minority ownership is still operating as a shallow well producer east of Pittsburgh, out of its Monroeville offices.
Olympus has ramped up at a time that natural gas prices have been low, a circumstance that has played havoc with a number of energy companies, forcing some to lay off staff. Doyle insists that is not the case with his firm.
“Even with gas prices being extremely low, we can make money,” he said. “Not many companies can say that. One thing that differentiates us is our balance sheet. We have a lot of equity and no debt. We’re not driven by quarterly targets.”
Olympus moved to Southpointe during the first half of 2017, and it has been a good home – a strategic home – according to Doyle. “All of our service companies and peers are there,” he said.
In turn, Doyle added, Olympus strives to be a good neighbor. He said the company has partnered with Canon-McMillan on the school district’s backpack program and with Elizabeth Forward on its STEM initiative; has assisted with Junior Achievement; and is looking to help communities enhance public safety efforts.
“We’re a small, private company, but we think we can have a positive impact on communities.”
Actually, the president/CEO says his newly rebranded LLC is driven to have a major impact all around.
“We try to be the best in everything we do.”