As an engineer and a manager in a variety of roles, Clay Gaspar’s experience in energy has taken him out into the field, across the country, onshore and offshore, and around the world. He says he works best by rolling up his sleeves and bringing people together.
Overseeing the company’s operations in our three core basins is a natural fit for Clay as he begins his new role as WPX’s senior vice president and chief operating officer.
From operations to working in investor relations, Clay has gained both broad and specific perspectives of the industry.
“I’ve worked in many operations roles and really enjoyed field work,” says Clay, a Louisiana native and longtime Houston resident, who graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in petroleum engineering and from the University of Texas with a master’s degree in petroleum and geosciences engineering.
Clay started his career at Mewbourne Oil as a production drilling engineer before taking on numerous roles at Anadarko, including general manager for investor relations, business advisor for Worldwide Operations and general manager over East Texas Operations.
He also served in technical and managerial roles there covering projects in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Louisiana, Alaska, the Rockies and offshore Gulf of Mexico.
Those roles gave Clay a bird’s eye view of the entire enterprise – experience that he looks forward to sharing at WPX.
“We are at a critical inflection point for the organization,” he says. “Many of our peer companies don’t have enough self-awareness to see opportunities for improvement, so they miss these game-changing events.
“We have identified a strategy that will drive value and we have some great people who want to take it to the next level.”
After Anadarko, Clay became vice president of the Mid-Continent region for Newfield Exploration, based in Tulsa. He moved to Oklahoma about two and a half years ago.
When WPX’s CEO and President Rick Muncrief met with Clay about coming to WPX in a senior management role, Clay was eager to take on a new challenge.
“I knew of Rick and had heard great things about him, and I knew WPX was in a state of transition,” Clay says. “By focusing on our three core areas of operations – the San Juan, Williston and Piceance basins – it will allow us to focus and become best-in-class in those areas.”
Clay sees a lot of promise in our San Juan Gallup oil operations, and he’s encouraged by how WPX has maintained the Piceance as a highly efficient, productive and low-cost asset.
“And the Williston is one of the industry’s most prolific basins. I am excited about our strong footprint in the area,” he says.
As Clay starts his role at WPX, he wants to understand how we can share best practices between operations areas with the goal of becoming as efficient and cost-effective as possible.
“I realize that I need to establish credibility early on with the teams. I pride myself on being a good listener and want to hear ideas from others. I am especially interested in ideas that we haven’t tried or in evolving technology that we need to reevaluate,” he says.
“And I’m a big believer in looking across the fence – we’re not the only ones trying to solve problems in these basins. I’m confident we can learn something from each of our neighbors.”
Challenging the team and the company to be more efficient is certainly one of his goals, but Clay also knows it’s his job to help clear hurdles.
“The job of senior management is to set a course, clear the path and allow employees to add the most value to WPX” Clay says.
“For every project we launch, we need to start with a conversation about how we will add value to the company. This includes everything from a field project to an accounting or marketing project.”
Being transparent is also important to Clay.
“Communities are affected by our operations, and it’s incumbent upon us to work together,” he says. “Over the years, I’ve seen things done the right way, and I’ve seen decisions that hurt companies in the long run.
“For every project, you want to not only add value, but also to leave things better than you found them.”