They say you can take a boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of a boy. Jay Foreman, completions manager for WPX, is proof.
“Several years ago, WPX had some flowback pits, and nearly every time we looked at those things we found something we didn’t like,” Jay recalls.
He vowed to replace every one of them, and had them rebuilt to a higher standard with double liners and leak detection equipment. He wanted to be able to guarantee that WPX was protecting ground water. Going forward, if something went wrong, it could be fixed before becoming a problem.
He says, “It kind of meshes with growing up on a farm. Just because something breaks, you don’t give up. You still have to bale the hay. You still have to plant the corn. Whatever it is, you don’t quit – you figure out what you have to do to get it fixed, and get moving again.”
He sees that same attitude at WPX.
“We’re going to figure out how to meet new expectations by challenging the engineers, challenging the operations people – that’s why we’ve become so efficient. We continue to try to find what else we can do to make this better, to make us more profitable, even with lower commodity prices.
Jay grew up on a dairy farm in Hannibal, Mo., and attended the University of Missouri-Rolla where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering.
When he graduated from college in 1986, he decided to forego the big city life for something closer to the life he knew on the family dairy farm in northeast Missouri.
He wanted to work in the field – not indoors. So, instead of accepting an office job at an engineering and architectural firm in Kansas City, he headed south to work for Dowell Schlumberger in Midland, Texas.
He ran nitrogen, cement and frac equipment, eventually working his way into a supervisory role managing cement and frac jobs.
Jay also spent a year in Tulsa working on a technical project under the watchful eye of Ken Nolte, a pioneer in frac design and diagnostics. There, he received a fair amount of frac understanding from Nolte that went along with the operational experience he already had under his belt.
The early ’90s took him overseas, to Dubai. Jay says living there was hot, and working in the desert was grueling.
When he returned from the Middle East a year later, a district manager who’d had a big influence on Jay put in a request for him to go to Rock Springs, Wyo., as a field service manager.
“This district manager could walk into any money-losing district and make it profitable. He had very high expectations, and not everyone could work for him. He was blunt, mean and feared by many. It forced me to always be ready.”
“If you ran your business right and gained his trust, he would go to war for you, but if you were slacking off, he’d cuss you out in front of everyone. But, once I figured him out, I kind of liked working for that guy.”
Jay stayed with Dowell Schlumberger for eight years, before signing on with Halliburton, where he worked as an in-house engineer.
At different times, he was the liaison between Halliburton and two major oil companies, with responsibility for sales and marketing, technical job designs, and customer satisfaction.
“These opportunities gave me such an appreciation for operating companies’ objectives and struggles managing an oil and gas operation. I learned so much working out of their offices,” Jay says.
By 2005, Jay was looking for something new, and WPX was ramping up its work in the Piceance Basin. He knew a couple of people, and soon got on working as a completions engineer.
Jay can’t say enough about the people he works with at WPX and their “get ’er done” attitude – working hard, being transparent, and able to meet and exceed very high expectations.
Jay considers people development the most rewarding part of his job. Be they young or new, seeing his people grow as they take on projects with more responsibility and do better work is encouraging.
“I like getting them right out of school – I want them first,” he says, grinning.
He also likes investing in his own kids. Jay and his wife have six children ranging in age from 10 to 22 years old. He is a certified shooting sports instructor and leader for their 4-H program.
“We’re going to figure out how to meet new expectations by challenging the engineers, challenging the operations people – that’s why we’ve become so efficient. We continue to try to find what else we can do to make this better, to make us more profitable, even with lower commodity prices.”