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GEM’s Gems March 2014 – Richard Rondeau

March 1, 2014

The GEM Program is honoring alumnus and advisory council member Richard Rondeau as the February GEM’s GEM. As a testament to his extensive expertise and industry experience, Rondeau has held multiple positions at Venoco over the years involving geoscience, business development, and strategy.

Richard Rondeau, GEM's Gem

Richard Rondeau, GEM’s Gem

“I’ve been working in this industry since the early 80’s and not a day goes by without learning something new,” he said. “This creates tremendous growth opportunities for those employed in the industry.”

Several employees from Venoco participated in the GEM Program, and it was recommended to Rondeau as a choice opportunity by his supervisor.

“My manager at the time suggested I look into the program because he thought it would help provide future career opportunities,” he said. “I’ll admit, after the first cohort weekend, I felt like I was on shaky ground. There is a rhythm to the program, however, and after about week two or three, I found it and never looked back. As such, I’ve added a tremendous skill set to my technical background and feel I am a much better employee because of it.”

What is your Professional Title, Company? Since GEM I’ve held several positions within Venoco including Geosciences Manager, Asset Manager, Geologist for New Ventures, and Business Development

 Briefly describe your current role and responsibilities. Currently, I’m screening acquisition candidates in the Rockies and Mid-Continent. I’ve looked at dozens of geologic plays across the Rockies and am developing play books for each basin. The play books are aimed at facilitating rapid response to pending acquisitions as well as scouting for new areas that fit Venoco’s growth objectives.

 What do you enjoy most about working in the energy industry? The energy industry consists of many varied applications and covers geography around the world. I’ve been working in this industry since the early 80’s and not a day goes by without learning something new. This creates tremendous growth opportunities for those employed in the industry.

 How has the GEM program benefited you? I came up through the industry as a working geologist. While I had a solid understanding of this discipline, what I was missing was the business acumen. The GEM program provided me an economics, finance, management, and strategy foundation, all of which helped me fulfill my potential as an asset manager and now as a geologist on the New Ventures team.

What were some of your favorite things to do during cohort weekends? Being in my mid 50’s and working full time, room service and an early night were key to getting through those first four days (during cohort weekends) and showing up for work on Tuesday morning.

Why did you choose the GEM program at CU Denver? The GEM program really chose me. Several employees from Venoco had previously participated in the program. My manager at the time suggested I look into the program because he thought it would help provide future career opportunities. I told him I was too old and tired to go back to school and didn’t know if I really had the energy to tackle such a program while working full time. I’ll admit, after the first cohort weekend, I felt like I was on shaky ground. There is a rhythm to the program, however, and after about week two or three, I found it and never looked back. As such, I’ve added a tremendous skill set to my technical background and feel I am a much better employee because of it.

GEM’s Gems February 2014 – Chris Longwell

February 1, 2014

This month, the Global Energy Management Program is honoring alumnus Chris Longwell as our GEM’s GEM. Longwell, 32, is a Drilling and Completions Manager at Santos Limited in Eastern Australia and was a member of GEM’s Cohort IV.

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Chris Longwell

Longwell looked at a variety of master’s program curricula before selecting the GEM Program at CU Denver.

“The Global Energy Management degree had the best selection of courses that were relevant for my desired career path,” he said. “The GEM program has given me a broader view of the energy industry and increased my business and leadership skills allowing me to take on a management role with a large team at a relatively young age.”

Serendipitously, Longwell’s profession helped him to discover a passion for motor sports and adventure.

“While living in Australia, I got the crazy idea to ride an off-road motorcycle around the coastline of the country,” he said. “So far, I’ve made it about three quarters of the way around and have had many mishaps including getting swept off a bridge by a flooding river in crocodile country.

“I’ve recently moved to a new position in our Offshore Team which will give me some more time off, and I’m hoping to finish up the trip in the next year. Should be a total of about 35,000 kms (21,875miles). So, if anybody wants to buy a worn out motorcycle that’s had a rough life, let me know.”

Briefly describe your current role and responsibilities.

I am responsible for drilling, completions and frac for all Onshore Operations in South Australia, Northern Territory, & Southwest Queensland including EHS, and finance.

What do you enjoy most about working in the energy industry?

The challenge of 24/7 Operations, exploring for oil & gas, and the ability to get paid to travel and see the world.

How has the GEM program benefited you?

The GEM program has given me a broader view of the energy industry and increased my business and leadership skills allowing me to take on a management role with a large team at a relatively young age. Also, this job led me to meet my Australian girlfriend who is very nice (when I can understand what she is saying).

What were some of your favorite things to do during cohort weekends?

With a wide variety of backgrounds and levels of experience in my cohort, we had some great debates that led to a greater understanding of the energy industry from different perspectives. It also provided me with a great excuse to see my family and friends when I flew in to Denver from Oklahoma, Vietnam, and Australia during the program.

What are some of the things that you never forgot to bring to cohort weekends?

With the late nights at the pubs and early mornings in class, a good coffee mug was critical!

Please share a story about GEM that will entertain other students.

I was out in the South China Sea on a Semi-Submersible Drilling Rig during the end of one quarter when a couple hurricanes came in. It was too windy to get helicopters in, so I had to do my final tests and presentation from the rig with intermittent service from our satellite. My team members and professors were very understanding and, although my presentation video was a bit choppy, I made it through with decent grades.

Why did you choose the GEM program at CU Denver?

After viewing a number of different master’s curricula, the Global Energy Management degree had the best selection of courses that were relevant for my desired career path.

GEM Program graduates eighth cohort!

January 24, 2014

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Kyle Geron reflected on how much work went into receiving a Master’s degree from the Global Energy Management Program at the graduation ceremony on Jan. 19.

“We’ve spend a lot of time in this program,” he said. “Earning a Master’s degree is not just about gaining knowledge, but also teaching ourselves how to think.”

Geron estimated that he and his fellow classmates completed 324 discussion posts, 240 hours of classroom lectures, 162 hours of online lectures, and 108 hours of online group meetings to finish the required 12 graduate courses. And, this didn’t include the hours spent reading, studying, writing papers, researching, and working on multiple projects.

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Kyle Geron, of Cohort VIII, gives a speech during the ceremony.

“We’ve invested in more than just knowledge – we have invested in ourselves and the future of energy,” Geron said. “We’ve learned the ins and outs of the energy industry. We’ve learned that we don’t know all there is about the energy industry nor do we understand the potential that we each have to change it.”

Geron was selected to speak on behalf of his cohort. He was among 27 students who graduated from GEM’s Cohort VIII at the Four Seasons Hotel Denver. To date, the program has 180 alumni across the U.S. and abroad.

Chris Lewis, Chief Corporate Officer of DCP Midstream, was the program’s keynote speaker and delivered an inspirational message to the graduates.

“It’s not something that everyone does well,” he said. “Think about what’s important and how you lead your teams. It will define a culture – good, bad, or ugly – your example will define your organization’s culture.”

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Chris Lewis, Chief Corporate Officer of DCP Midstream, was the GEM Program’s keynote speaker.

Lewis said that leaders inherit the culture they deserve.

“It’s easy to get caught up in leading people and to forget what is important,” he said. “There is an inherit need for relationships and, without them, the day-to-day work is messy and not very fun. … When you take over the reins remember this – there is a cohort 20 years behind you that you will be depending on like we’re depending on you. The more you invest in the next cohort, the better results you’ll get and the healthier you dividends will be.”

GEM Advisory Council member Stephen Richardson was honored with the GEM Appreciation Award for his service and dedication to the GEM Program, and Michele Motley accepted the GEM Staff Member Appreciation award. Professor Michael Orlando was voted by the students as the program’s Outstanding Professor a second year in a row. “I know that I asked a lot from my students because they told me that all the time,” joked Michael Orlando.

GEM’s Gems January 2014 – Hongyu An (Ann)

January 1, 2014

 Beijinger honored as the January GEM’s Gem

The GEM’s Gem we are honoring this month may have deep roots in Beijing, China, but she is quickly making Denver her new stomping ground.ann

Hongyu An (Ann), 30, is a Reservoir Engineering Technician with Slawson Exploration Co., Inc. She graduated from the China University of Mining and Technology in Beijing with a B.S. in industrial engineering and is part of a third generation of local Beijingers.

“In 2006, my parents made their most important decision to allow their only child come to the U.S. by herself,” she said.

In 2007, An took an internship with Slawson Exploration Co., Inc. and is still with the company today.

“I started as an Engineering Tech Assistant and gained a dual title as an office manager for a couple years when we only had a handful of staff in our branch,” An said. “Now we have grown four times larger and, after we hired enough help on general office duties, I returned to focus on reservoir engineering as a full-fledged technician.”

An, who is a member of Cohort IX, will graduate on June 20, 2014. She and her husband are also expecting their second child in August.

“After graduation, I’ll have two children less than four years old apart,” she said. “This is the best project management I have done so far.”

 Briefly describe your current role and responsibilities.

I assist engineering personnel with economic evaluations, budgeting, reserves estimation and field studies, building and maintaining complex queries, databases, and economic evaluations & forecasts in Excel, Access, and IHS PowerTools. I also monitor well activity including proposed work and work in progress and coordinate all information from internal and external databases into our online portal.

What do you enjoy most about working in the energy industry?

The energy industry is one of the most important industries in society. As long as there are people, they will need energy. It’s my pleasure to be able to play a role in helping ourselves to use energy smarter and more efficiently. The energy industry is highly related to global, political, economic, technological, and environmental factors.

 How has the GEM program benefited you?

GEM enlarges my network locally and internationally. Here, I have met many experts in the industry and made friends from different cultural backgrounds such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Asia, and the US. GEM has also helped me communicate more effectively with my colleagues at the office. As a foreign born U.S. citizen, I’m still very new to the country and my company. I don’t have much common life topics with my colleagues at work. Sports, outdoor life, TV shows, comedians? I don’t know much about them, and what I can share with my American colleagues they don’t quite understand. So when we talk, we can initiate small talk but don’t have much real discussion. After I started GEM, I can find at least two topics each quarter to discuss with fellow staff members. For example, last quarter, I took the HR class and was able to interview with my supervisor, manager, or the boss on each weekly discussion topic. I learned more about my company operations, and they learned more about me besides my current job role.

What are some of your favorite things to do during cohort weekends?

It must start from very beginning; the breakfast! It definitely motivates me to get up early on the weekends to attend school. Meeting new people is one of my favorite things. GEM has been so successful in enrolling students. A lot of them are new to GEM but “old” to the industry. I can keep learning from them.

In class activities: unlike staying in front of a computer, I have to pay closer attention on what the teacher and classmates are saying, because there is no pause button on them. Pretend I’m a Chinese representative. I always think someday my work will face different people from the world and involve solving tough business problems. The cohort weekends are my best early practice stage. I like when my classmates show their interest in Chinese issues. I like to share my opinion, but it’s often better to hear more from other voices. I like to learn what outsiders think about China today because we all have the chance to create a better future together. I’m glad that I’m with a group of open-minded people and very much appreciate those independent thoughts.

What are some of the things that you never forget to bring to cohort weekends?

Laptop, pre-readings (be prepared before the cohort weekends), business cards (you always meet some new faces), your own beverage container (save plastic or paper cups), and credit card (you want to have lunch together with your group).

Please share a story about GEM that will entertain other students.

Wow, it is a quite challenge for us international students. Many cases are U.S. based, so I have to do more background research to understand what Americans would consider common sense. So this program not only helped me in the energy industry, but also helped me understand American society, culture, and politics in general.

Why did you choose the GEM program at CU Denver?

First, I’m sure I will stay in the energy field the rest of my career. No matter if it’s engineering or marketing, oil or solar, industry or government, China or the US, it must be energy related.

Second, I’ve already secured an engineering degree in China, so I don’t want to get another engineering degree here, even though it might benefit me more in the short term. I believe that I can learn the technical knowledge better in my mother language than to learn them in English. Some day when I go back to China, I won’t be just a senior engineer, I will be a manger or a policy maker, so I need a business degree from the U.S. and solid industry experience worldwide. With the high growth and intense competition in China, many overseas MBA degree holders can’t earn a better position in China unless you graduate from a world famous school. So I found GEM, which is a program designed exclusively for the energy industry.

Third, timing and location. Starting from January 2013, these 18 months are the best 18 months to finish a Master’s degree. (Ann is expecting her second child two months after graduation).

GEM alumnus featured in Who’s Who in Energy!

December 18, 2013

The GEM Program would like to congratulate Joel Poppert on being featured in the Denver Business Journal’s edition of Who’s Who in Energy!Image

Joel Poppert is the current Director of Business Development for Major Geothermal & Major Heating and Air Conditioning, a firm of national renown recognized for their excellence in geothermal, mechanical, and energy management systems. In addition to his position at Major, Poppert is also a founding member of GEMM7, LLC; a start-up energy consulting firm based out of Denver, CO. Poppert is also currently participating as a reviewer on the Energy & Natural Resources Subcommittee for the Advanced Industries Accelerator grant program being managed by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

Poppert is the former President of the Colorado Geo Energy and Heat Pump Association and has been involved in the renewable energy industry for over seven years. In 2012, he was selected by the National Business Journals as a Who’s Who in Energy for his contributions to the renewable energy industry. Poppert holds degrees in Geology and Geophysics from the University of Minnesota Institute for Technology and, this year, completed a Master of Science degree in Global Energy Management at the University of Colorado-Denver Business School.

Poppert is a pragmatic energy professional known for his ability to work with all levels of stakeholders in the energy landscape and as an advocate of alternative resources. He has spent his career passionately searching for opportunities to develop energy efficiency and renewable technologies. In essence, he is helping to move our nation one step closer to “energy independence.” Joel can be reached at 720.219-8340 or at his e-mail of joel@majorgeothermal.com.

GEM’s Gems December 2013 – Steven Thompson

December 1, 2013

The Global Energy Management Program is honoring alumnus Steven Thompson as the December GEM’s Gem. Thompson, 38, works as a Landman at Marathon Oil Company.

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“My ability to research and understand complex energy issues in policy, economics, science, and law grew significantly as a result of the (GEM) curriculum,” Thompson said. “Quite often, I was able to apply what I learned in class to my work the very next day. GEM made me better at my job, which led to a promotion less than a year into the program.”

Thompson is also thankful for the lifelong friendships and professional contacts he has made during GEM’s cohort weekends.

“The opportunity for in-person interaction with my classmates sets GEM apart from other distance degrees,” he said. “Cohort weekends are busy. However, we enjoyed doing things together around Denver during the evenings. We attended Nuggets games, ate great meals downtown & in other neighborhoods, and went to great clubs.”

Briefly describe your current role and responsibilities.

I work on the development team for the Woodford Shale, a liquids-rich unconventional shale formation in Oklahoma. I am responsible for the comprehensive land cycle in a specific prospect area southeast of Oklahoma City in Grady and Stephens Counties. I work on or direct efforts related to acreage acquisition, broker management, title research and verification, well site planning, surface use, Oklahoma Corporation Commission application and testimony, division order, production leasehold management, and divestiture. My job is heavy on contract negotiation and developing key relationships with business partners. My primary function is to ensure the development of company operated drilling and spacing units so that the rigs can keep moving.

How has the GEM program benefited you?

Unlike a traditional MBA, each GEM class focuses specifically on the energy industry. My company does not have a policy where graduate degrees equal an automatic promotion. Career advancement depends less on credentials and more on competence, personality, and ethics. Every single class is built on one or more of these areas. GEM requires an incredible commitment to comprehending and analyzing the highest level of academic and professional publications on topics relevant to the present day energy industry. My ability to research and understand complex energy issues in policy, economics, science, and law grew significantly as a result of the curriculum. Quite often, I was able to apply what I learned in class to my work the very next day. GEM made me better at my job, which led to a promotion less than a year into the program.

What were some of your favorite things to do during cohort weekends?

I developed lifelong friendships and professional contacts as a result of the cohort weekends. I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to pursue a hybrid program rather than a 100 percent online MBA. The opportunity for in-person interaction with my classmates sets GEM apart from other distance degrees. Cohort weekends are busy. However, we enjoyed doing things together around Denver during the evenings.  We attended Nuggets games, ate great meals downtown & in other neighborhoods, and went to great clubs.

What are some of the things that you never forgot to bring to cohort weekends?

Business cards, a laptop, a swimsuit, and workout clothes. The hotel has a great fitness center and pool.

Please share a story about GEM that will entertain other students.
Don’t think that GEM students can’t take over a dance floor, especially if house music is involved.

Why did you choose the GEM program at CU Denver?

I started looking at online MBAs in early 2010 and found the GEM program. At that time, GEM was still in its infancy having just graduated the initial cohort. I limited my search to AACSB accredited schools to ensure that any degree I might pursue would be fully regarded by Fortune 500 companies.  I ultimately chose GEM for its energy focus, travel proximity, and academic credibility.

Has GEM changed your perspective? If so, how so?

With my work experience being limited to oil and gas exploration, GEM allowed me to broaden my horizons to other facets of the energy mix. Matthew’s class on 21st Century Global Energy and Herb’s class on Energy Policy opened my eyes to economic, technological, and legislative challenges for all energy sources, whether fossil or renewable.  Examining other energy industries, especially coal, nuclear, and wind, gave me new perspective on many of the issues facing the oil and gas industry. We all face challenges in one-way or another.

Community Bans on Oil & Gas Fracking

November 21, 2013

Guest Commentary by Global Energy Management Program Professor

Community Bans on Oil & Gas Fracking

By Richard P. Mignogna, Ph.D., P.E.

Rich Mignogna

Richard P. Mignogna

On election day, voters in four Colorado cities – Boulder, Lafayette, Fort Collins, and Broomfield – weighed in on whether or not to allow hydraulic fracturing in their communities.  Measures to ban “fracking” passed easily in the first three while the Broomfield proposition fell short by only a few votes and appears headed for a recount.  As is well known by now, the state regards the regulation of drilling activities as its sole domain and has filed suit over an earlier fracking restriction in Longmont.

It has been well documented that the state and nation as a whole have benefitted immensely from new oil and gas extraction technologies.  The U.S. is now the world’s largest producer of natural gas and, thanks to new production in shale oil and shale gas, is on a path to become a net energy exporter in a few short years – something that would have been unthinkable not long ago.  Moreover, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from the electrical power sector are the result of the increase in natural gas fired power generation – a direct result of the decrease in price that has accompanied the increased supply due to fracking (the impact of renewables in achieving this reduction, in spite of receiving a disproportionate amount of press, has been negligible in this regard).  So, in spite of the economic and environmental benefits of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, why did these communities vote to ban them?

First, there remains a widespread misunderstanding of the environmental concerns associated with hydraulic fracturing.  Fracking occurs thousands of feet below the surface, well below any source of potable water in the country.  And, in spite of some alarmist propaganda, there have been no demonstrable cases of fracking at depth contaminating ground water supplies.  But, with that said, there have been problems, virtually all of which emanate from poor well completions and other surface or near surface drilling contamination.  While these are not an issue with hydraulic fracturing per se (i.e. they could occur with conventional production as well) they are legitimate concerns.  To some extent, the industry is its own worst enemy, whether it is its own failure to adequately take preventive measures against spills or specious claims about the need for trade secret protection for the constituents of frac fluids.

There are some 50,000 oil and gas wells in Colorado with more than 1,000 new permits issued each year.  A check of the COGCC incident reporting database reveals that thus far in 2013, there were just over 100 spills that impacted surface or ground water, with about a quarter of those a result of the September floods.  Most others appear not related to drilling and completion activity but resulted from mechanical failures in collection and distribution systems.  Still, perhaps there is something to learn from the exemplary safety record of the airline industry and the transparency afforded by the Airline Safety Reporting System (ASRS) which allows everyone to share and learn from critical incidents that are voluntarily reported by pilots.

It is a fair question to ask why local communities should not have the same right to regulate this type of industrial activity within their borders as they do in regulating building permits, construction, transmission lines, or other industrial activities?  But, perhaps they should consider establishing systems to evaluate drilling activity on a well by well basis rather than enact outright bans.  It strikes me that the referenda on hydraulic fracturing are as much a statement on the state’s oversight of drilling as on concerns with fracking itself.  In other words, do the residents of these communities trust the state and its cognizant regulatory authority, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), to protect their interests?  The answer, it seems, may be no.

I have written in the past about the inconsistency in energy development regulation in Colorado noting that, while the state asserts primacy in the regulation of oil and gas drilling, it remains strangely disinterested in permitting electric generating facilities, be they renewable energy related or otherwise.  For instance, I would venture to say that most citizens are entirely unaware that neither the Public Utilities Commission nor the Colorado Energy Office requires even the most minimal registration of, or could provide data on, all of the electrical generating facilities in the state, the principal exception being the Department of Public Health and Environment which issues air quality permits for them.  At least drillers must file a permit application for each well they seek to drill.

The bottom line is that I would be no more in favor of having a drilling rig 500 feet from my back door than I am having a 400-foot wind turbine there.  And, before critics decry this as NIMBYism at its worst, consider that both drilling and renewable energy facilities represent industrial development that is not wholly compatible with residential neighborhoods.  The important point is not that these types of energy development do not belong anywhere, but rather that they do not belong everywhere.  And, until the supply of energy (be it liquid fuels or electricity) becomes so critically short, there is no reason to find that no land – be it residential or wilderness – should not be off limits.

Yes, the state and the oil and gas industry need to get their acts together and do a better job of understanding and responding to the legitimate concerns of the public.  Perhaps a reporting system analogous to the ASRS mentioned above would help.  Local communities that seek to ban hydraulic fracturing entirely, on the other hand, need to consider more flexible regulatory schemas that can be applied with more precision than a sledge hammer.  The nation, the economy, and the environment have benefitted from unconventional oil and gas development and we need to figure out how to keep this train rolling.

RICHARD P. MIGNOGNA, Ph.D., P.E., is Principal Consultant with Renewable & Alternative Energy Management, LLC in Golden, Colorado and also teaches in the Global Energy Management Program at CU Denver.  He can be reached at rich@energystrategies.co

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