Acquisitions, expansions, and media mixology are all served up in this month’s miscellany of truncated articles. These are the full versions of the “Drilling Deeper” news items that appeared as abbreviated versions in the print edition of the December 2014 PBOG.

FourPoint Energy and EnerVest Expand

FourPoint Energy, LLC, and privately held institutional affiliates of EnerVest, Ltd., announced the signing of a purchase and sale agreement to acquire all of Linn Energy’s oil and gas properties and related midstream assets in the Western Anadarko Basin for a purchase price of $1.95 billion ($975 million net to FourPoint Energy). The assets include an interest in 1,358 producing wells primarily in the Granite Wash, Tonkawa, Cleveland, and Marmaton formations with daily net production of 195 Mmcfed. The assets cover more than 145,000 net acres throughout western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle, of which 97 percent are held by production.

In addition to the upstream assets to be acquired, the purchase price includes a wholly-owned midstream asset consisting of more than 170 miles of gas gathering and compression systems, liquid stabilization, associated water supply and disposal infrastructure, and an oil terminal facility in Wheeler County, TX. These integrated midstream assets combined with the partnership’s proximal midstream assets in Hemphill and Roger Mills counties will provide price optionality and uninterrupted takeaway for the venture’s oil and gas volumes, as well as serve as a platform for third party volume growth.

The acquisition positions the joint venture with a large-scale footprint in a premiere multi-pay resource play where the team has substantial core competencies established over a decade of operations in the basin. “This transaction uniquely complements the partnership’s current acreage position by materially increasing our scale in ownership throughout our liquids-rich core area. The Linn assets will transform the joint venture’s current operatorship profile within producing wells, add a significant inventory of operated upside locations, provide access to higher value oil and gas markets, and afford control of capital allocation. Additionally, we have identified several cost synergies and strategic opportunities that will be pursued as we develop the asset base,” said George Solich, president and CEO of FourPoint Energy.

Pro forma for the acquisition and prior to customary post-closing adjustments, the joint venture will boast an acreage position of more than 325,000 net acres in the established AMI with net production estimated to exceed 315 Mmcfed. FourPoint and EnerVest expect strong growth while spending within free cash flow and continuing to exploit the multi-year drilling inventory associated with the combined asset base. The acquisition is expected to close on or before December 15, 2014.

Jefferies LLC acted as financial advisor to FourPoint Energy and EnerVest in connection with this transaction.

Gulf Oil In China

Gulf’s program for growth in China has reached another landmark stage, with the redefining of its operations in China under a new name: Gulf Oil (China) Co. Ltd.

Gulf’s has had a presence in China since 1995, when a joint venture was set up between Gulf Oil International and the Yantai Chemical Company, under the title Gulf Oil (Yantai) Co. Ltd. Yantai, in the Shandong Province, was chosen because of its development zone status and it being a convenient location for air, land, and sea transport.

Having established its Chinese headquarters in Yantai, Gulf built a new 50,000 ton per annum blending plant to service its Chinese needs, which opened in November 2006. The ultra-modern, computer controlled facility, with its automated blending tanks, was a major statement of intent by Gulf of the growing importance of China in its global strategy.

Since then, the Chinese market has grown rapidly, and Gulf has now moved into the next phase of its development in China, of which this change of name is a further important reflection.

With growth very much in mind, Gulf has expanded its Chinese operations through the opening of two new key regional Chinese offices this year—one in the key commercial hub of Shanghai and the second, only last month, in the nation’s capital city, Beijing.

“As a long-established global lubricant brand, we understood the need to have a dedicated presence in China’s major commercial centers,” explains Jan Trocki, Gulf Oil International Vice President of Operations. “With the opening of these new offices we are able to provide much better service for Gulf’s growing distributor network in China. They will help drive and implement new sales, marketing, and product strategies. As these come to fruition, we will also look to add further to the infrastructure of Gulf’s operations in China.”

Gulf’s blending plant and administrative hub will remain in Yantai, but the opening of the new offices has already led to an increase in Gulf’s distributor network in China and a resultant increase in product blending levels at the Yantai plant as Gulf primes itself for a significant growth in sales in the country.

The importance of the Chinese market to Gulf is such that the brand chose to launch its new global packaging in China recently, several months ahead of its appearance in the rest of the world.

Gulf has also set up a dedicated OEM Team to focus on developing OEM business with the major automotive manufacturers in China—a move which is already paying dividends.

According to Arthur Liu, general manager of Gulf Oil (China) Co Ltd., “Gulf is planning for significant growth in the Chinese market. Our distribution network has increased by almost 50 percent since the beginning of the year, and our OEM team has already achieved breakthroughs with the likes of Jincheng Motorcycle, Sinotruk, and Dongfeng-Nissan.

“Gulf is committed to an increasing investment in innovative product research and development so that we can deliver new product solutions. With a strong global brand, (one) that has a reputation for high quality products and service levels and an outstanding value proposition—now backed up with a strengthened infrastructure—we feel we have all of the building blocks to make a real mark for the Gulf brand in China.”

Consumer Behavior at the Pump Revealed

GreenPrint, LLC., creators of the world’s first Carbon Neutral Gasoline, announced the preliminary results of a sweeping consumer survey covering a broad range of subjects related to daily purchase decisions, brand loyalty, petroleum retailers, and the environment. Sent to more than 100,000 individuals nationwide representing a diverse cross-section of the population, the survey may be the most comprehensive study of its kind and provides dramatic insights into the mindset of American society.

“The premise of the research was to take an unbiased look at what factors drive consumers to choose certain petroleum retailers and their subsequent purchase behavior at the pump—and if those decision criteria could be realistically influenced,” said GreenPrint CEO Peter Davis. “The data indicates that, because petroleum companies have particularly low brand loyalty compared to other everyday purchase categories, consumers are not only open to switching brands—but they are actually willing to go out of their way to do so under certain circumstances.”

Davis, a technology pioneer who sold his loyalty marketing company to a private equity firm in 2009, founded GreenPrint earlier this year and has partnered with c-store industry veteran, Doug Kruep—another serial entrepreneur whose point-of-sale technology company was acquired by VeriFone in 2012. “In addition to some groundbreaking insights, the research results also confirmed what our team already believed intuitively,” said Kruep.

Interesting highlights from the research include the following findings:

When asked which factors were most important in their gasoline purchases 83 percent of respondents named “price” as being an important consideration, while only 29 percent considered “brand” to be important.

When asked what type of fuel could differentiate a petroleum retailer from their competition, nearly 50 percent said “gas that was less harmful to the environment”—more than any other response. Nearly 76 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that “Mankind needs to take immediate action to protect the environment.”

Consumers from Florida to California rendered their opinions on nearly a dozen companies, including BP, Exxon, Chevron, Texaco, RaceTrac, and Shell, among others. From the quality of their gasoline, to the convenience of their locations, to the degree of their environmental consciousness, petroleum companies were given both darts and laurels by the survey participants. The survey data also pointed to future opportunities for petroleum companies to differentiate themselves. From airline miles, to performance improving fuel additives, to different ways to help the environment, consumers provided intriguing insights into their preferences between incentives that benefited them directly versus those that contributed to the greater good.

GreenPrint’s first opportunity to share its findings comes next week at the annual meeting of The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), a trade association representing the convenience and fuel retailing industry. “This research provides us with insights that we will use to help our clients drive incremental revenue by aligning with public opinion,” said Davis. “Even for those that don’t ultimately partner with us, this data will clearly cause some in the industry to rethink their approach to technology and innovation.”

Media Mixology

by Russell Trahan

The handcrafted cocktail has skyrocketed in popularity. Thanks in part to period-piece television dramas such as Mad Men that romanticize bar scenes of yore, drinks like the Old Fashioned and the Sazerac have risen from the recesses of the speakeasy to the drink menu of the neighborhood watering hole. With its focus on precision and detail, the art of mixology has effectively taken taps and brass rails by storm.

From the bar room to the board room, a different brand of mixology is taking place: the meticulously designed publicity campaign. All beneficial and lucrative PR strategies are devised like a classic cocktail, with an emphasis on industry-standards, creative execution, and an array of unique approaches that parallel the goals—or tastes—of the business or individual. There are many different options to consider when concocting the perfect publicity campaign, but it is paramount to remember that in order to achieve the desire result, the mix of media must be just right.

Local and Community Print: The Base

This is the heart of any publicity campaign. Like an aged, smoky rye, targeting print media publications forms the base of your PR cocktail—everything builds off of it. Articles placed in local and community magazines helps to establish visibility and lends to credibility in your particular field. When you are looking for the proper starting point, look no further than the printed page.

The diversity of readership and focus in the wide-range of print outlets allows for producing audience-specific content across a variety of industries, and positions you for the best chance of increased name-recognition and profit-margins. While the allure of a television or radio interview can seem enticing—and they do have their place in the publicity mix—your information in local and community print publications offers permanence. A satellite outlet or emergency-broadcast message will not interrupt your expertise.

Broadcast: The Modifier

The purpose of a modifier in a drink, traditionally an additional liqueur such as Vermouth, is to enhance the impact of the base. That brings us to interviews and appearances on the broadcast medium, which works to augment your efforts in the area of print. The modifier will not make your campaign, but it will absolutely enrich it.

A targeted approach with radio and television, promoting events, and engagements in a geographic-area, will provide a spike of PR activity that builds from your local and community print base. Your presence in print has brought your thoughts and ideas to your audience; your presence on their televisions and radios will put a face and voice to them.

Interviews & Op-Eds: The Flavor

The flavoring in an artisanal cocktail truly sets it apart from its traditional counterparts. Grenadine, tropical juices, ginger beer—ingenuity in flavors makes your beverage stand out—and the same is true for your publicity campaign.

Interviews that result in quotes in daily newspapers—local and national—and newsstand magazines bring your personality to the forefront. A controversial or distinct idea in the pages of publications with massive readerships puts your views on wide-display, and helps to establish you as a one-of-a-kind expert in your area.

Op-Eds take this a step further. They provide you with a forum to distinguish yourself from your colleagues, imparting a unique opinion or thought-process on your audience can make you a household name for your beliefs. Do not be afraid to push the envelope—professional mixologists take concerted risks to create a name for themselves.

Online Components: The Garnish

The garnish is the icing on the cocktail cake, if you will. You are finishing your creation with a flourish that doubles-down on your established base, modifier, and flavors. The PR mix uses print outlets’ online components as a garnish.

Since most—if not all—print media have an associated website, newsletter, or blogging arm, many articles or interviews that appear in print will also be featured online. This achieves a dual-impact of your original piece, as it now exists on computer screens as well as in tangible print, which only helps to extend your reach.

With the advent of our social media society, articles online may garner even more mileage, as sharing pieces deemed particularly informative or valuable has become one of the cornerstones of Facebook and Twitter. You’re only ever a few clicks and shares away from going viral.

There are few things as enjoyable as a finely-crafted cocktail. Mixologists behind bars across the globe are using their imaginative brains to create innovations-on-ice—using the classics as foundations to bring about something entirely original. The media mix for a publicity campaign should adhere to the same process: an emphasis on time-honored local and community print placements, a boost with broadcast media, and heightened name-recognition with interviews and opposite-editorials. Top off your campaign with online features and exclusives and you have the mixture for the perfect publicity cocktail.

And you just may become the toast of the town.


Russell Trahan is President of PR/PR, a boutique public relations agency specializing in positioning clients in front of their target audience in print and online. PR/PR represents experts of all kinds who are seeking national exposure for their business or organization. Russell and PR/PR will raise your business’ awareness in the eyes of your clients and customers. For more information, please visit www.prpr.net or email AdminAgent@prpr.net for a free consultation.

Texas’ Natural Gas Investments

New figures from the Railroad Commission show that investment in natural gas vehicles and fueling stations in Texas totaled $174 million in the past year. The new data reinforce earlier reports that natural gas motor-fuel sales, the number of natural gas vehicles, and the number of natural gas fueling stations are surging in the state.

Texas Railroad Commissioner David Porter, who launched his Natural Gas Initiative to increase the use of natural gas motor fuel in Texas last October, said the figures showed sustainable market growth and support for the Legislature’s public policy goals.

“The close balance—$95 million for natural gas vehicles and $79 million for fueling stations—shows that Texas’ vigorous market growth is sustainable, because we are addressing both sides of the old ‘chicken-and-egg’ problem,” Porter said.

The Railroad Commission (RRC), Texas’ chief energy agency, promotes the use of natural gas as an economical, environmentally beneficial alternative fuel through its Alternative Fuels Research and Education Division.

Marketing to Millennials

By Robert Danard

When Beyoncé released her self-titled album late last year, she didn’t go through any of the traditional promotional means, which she called boring. Instead, she simply posted a video featuring the new album cover and pictures of her with the caption “Surprise!” on Instagram. That was enough for Beyoncé, one of the best-selling music artists of all time. Within the two days of that post, more than 430,000 Beyoncé albums were sold on iTunes for $15.99 per download.

Of course, the wildly popular album would have been a hot product no matter how Beyoncé chose to promote it, but the story is yet another testament to the power of social media, says marketing entrepreneur Robert Danard, CEO of Spriza, Inc., (www.spriza.com) a global social network for group prizes from major brands.

“It’s no secret that the 18- to 34-year-old demographic is the most coveted one—they are the future of any product, and if you want to reach them, then you have to have a social media strategy,” says Danard, who started his career a decade ago by founding an early social media site.

“Beyoncé saved her record company plenty of money in traditional promotions, which would have been all but useless, since her target audience is on social media.”

Danard discusses social media marketing and the trends that are currently unfolding.

• The “attention economy”

This label refers to the demand for companies to focus on multiple social media sites, and the underlying human need to be validated through acknowledgement. How do young adults define their worth? Increasingly, it’s through the numbers of “likes,” “re-tweets,” and “follows” they get on social media. Companies that acknowledge and engage with individual users in real time help validate their self-worth and quickly turn them into brand fans.

• Creating winning circles of friends

Brands increasingly are recognizing the power of social media recommendations from friends. This referral process can be harnessed by offering real value and incentives to those who make recommendations. Danard points to his own site, Spriza (as in “surprise”), which encourages sharing by offering a memorable experience to the winner and the friends with whom he or she shared.

• The future of customer service

Millennials trust the social media format, despite its potential for fraud and misrepresentation, more than government, businesses, or religious institutions, according to a recent report by the global public relations firm Edelman. Many companies, including American Airlines, are focusing more of their customer service resources to answer complaints via social media. This can speed complaint resolution, and it makes businesses and their customer service departments more accountable because users can see when, if, and how complaints are resolved.

• Socially enriched sales

People like to be engaged online, and they like to buy things, but they don’t like to be sold products in the traditional way. Companies currently experiencing the most success online are not lazy about it—they don’t buy fake friends and followers. They engage, entertain, nurture relationships, and build on shared values with their outreach.

Rob Danard

About Robert Danard

Rob Danard is the CEO and head of business development for Spriza, Inc., (www.spriza.com) a marketing system that allows companies to quickly and cost-effectively promote a product or service by attracting widespread interest from a targeted audience. He is an entrepreneur and business development specialist who brings more than 10 years of diverse experience in the private and public sectors. He started his career in the world of online technology, founding one of the first social networking site, a wireless encryption company, and a media and entertainment marketing company. Danard has worked as an independent consultant to various media firms assisting in valuations, assessment, development, and deal flow.

WellDog and Shell to Collaborate

WellDog Pty Ltd (WellDog) announced that it has collaborated with Shell International Exploration & Production, Inc. (Shell) over the past eighteen months to develop a new technical service for locating natural gas and natural gas liquids in shale formations. This announcement follows a laboratory and field development program undertaken by the two companies, leveraging WellDog’s patented downhole Raman spectroscopy technology and Shell’s geochemical and petrophysical experience in shale gas evaluation.

The new service is directed at identifying the locations where natural gas and natural gas liquids occur in shale formations, allowing producers to focus development efforts, reduce drilling costs, optimize production, and reduce the number of hydraulic fracturing stages and associated water usage.

Shell is now leading beta trials of the technical service that is being developed from the program.

Seven Steps to Success

by Neal Thornberry, Ph.D.

Everyone says they want innovation in their organization, but when an ambitious employee offers it to a CEO, for example, the idea is often shot down, says Neal Thornberry, Ph.D., faculty director for innovation initiatives at the Naval Postgraduate School in California.

“Senior leaders often miss the value-creating potential of a new concept because they either don’t take the time to really listen and delve into it, or the innovating employee presents it in the wrong way,” says Thornberry, who recently published Innovation Judo, (www.NealThornberry.com), based on his years of experience teaching innovation at Babson College and advising an array of corporate clients, from the Ford Co. and IBM, to Cisco Systems.

“Innovation should be presented as opportunities, not ideas. Opportunities have gravitas while ideas do not.”

Thornberry outlines a template for innovation that works:


Once the “why” is answered, leaders have the beginnings of a legitimate roadmap to innovation’s fruition. This is no small task and requires some soul searching.

“I once worked with an executive committee, and I got six different ideas for what ‘innovation’ meant,” Thornberry says. “One wanted new products, another focused on creative cost-cutting, and the president wanted a more innovative culture. The group needed to agree on their intent before anything else.”


This is where you designate who is responsible for what. It’s tough, because the average employee will not risk new responsibility and potential risk without incentive. Some companies create units specifically focused on innovation, while others try to change the company culture in order to foster innovation throughout. “Creating a culture takes too long,” Thornberry says. “Don’t wait for that.”


What do you know about the problem? IDEO may be the world’s premier organization for investigating innovative solutions. Suffice to say that the organization doesn’t skimp on collecting and analyzing data. At this point, data collection is crucial, whereas brainstorming often proves to be a waste of time if the participants come in with the same ideas, knowledge, and opinions that they had last week with no new learning in their pockets.


The fourth step is also the most fun and, unfortunately, is the part many companies leap to. This is dangerous because you may uncover many exciting and good ideas, but if the right context and focus aren’t provided up front, and team members cannot get on the same page, then a company is wasting its time. That is why intent must be the first step for any company seeking to increase innovation. Innovation should be viewed as a set of tools or processes, and not a destination.


Here’s where the rubber meets the road on innovation. Whereas the previous step was creative, now logic and subtraction must be applied to focus on a result. Again, ideas are great, but they must be grounded in reality. An entrepreneurial attitude is required here, one that enables the winnowing of ideas, leaving only those with real value-creating potential.

“Innovation without the entrepreneurial mindset is fun but folly,” Thornberry notes.


Does anyone care about what you’ve come up with? Will excitement spread during this infection phase? Now is the time to find out. Pilot testing, experimentation, and speaking directly with potential customers begin to give you an idea of how innovative and valuable an idea is. This phase is part selling, part research, and part science. If people can’t feel, touch, or experience your new idea in part or whole, they probably won’t get it. This is where the innovator has a chance to reshape their idea into an opportunity, mitigate risk, assess resistance, and build allies for their endeavor.


While many talk about this final phase, they often fail to address the integration part. Implementation refers to tactics that are employed in order to put an idea into practice. This is actually a perilous phase because, in order for implementation to be successful, the idea must first be successfully integrated with other activities in the business and aligned with strategy. An innovation, despite its support from the top, can still fail if a department cannot work with it.

About Neal Thornberry, Ph.D.

Neal Thornberry, Ph.D., is the founder and CEO of IMSTRAT, LLC, a consulting firm that specializes in helping private and public sector organizations develop innovation strategies. A respected leader in innovation, Thornberry is a sought-after international speaker and consultant. He also serves as the faculty director for innovation initiatives at the Center for Executive Education at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. Thornberry, author of “Innovation Judo:Disarming Roadblocks & Blockheads on the Path to Creativity” (www.NealThornberry.com), holds a doctorate in organizational psychology and specializes in innovation, corporate entrepreneurship, leadership, and organizational transformation

OWL Acquires GP II Saltwater Disposal Wells

Oilfield Water Logistics (OWL), a Natural Gas Partners (NGP) portfolio company providing water services to the energy industry, has acquired the saltwater disposal wells (SWD) and producer contracts of GP II Energy, Inc.

The transaction adds three strategically located saltwater disposal wells and significant piped water volumes to OWL’s assets.  The three wells, Oasis SWD, Keystone SWD, and Topeka SWD, expand OWL’s footprint in the Permian Basin, establishing its presence in Winkler and Reeves counties and reinforcing its commitment to creating a reliable water infrastructure network.

“GP II was a strategic acquisition for us, as we continue to expand our piped water infrastructure portfolio across Texas, New Mexico and beyond,” said OWL CEO Chris Cooper. With the GP II purchase, OWL owns 16 saltwater disposal wells and a network of water pipelines with producer contracts, in addition to significant exclusive surface-use agreements in the Permian Basin.

Preparing for the Plant Outage

Spirax Sarco, a leader in products and services for steam system solutions, has released its latest white paper, one entitled “Valve Maintenance – Preparing for the Plant Outage.” The treatise explains the recommended methodology for the planning, performing, and reporting valve maintenance during a successful plant outage.

As production and utility plant areas prepare for upcoming maintenance turnarounds (TAR), outages, and shut-downs, effective planning can save time and curtail expenses associated with the testing, repair, and replacement of control valves within the plant’s total valve population. Effective planning is also a key component to smoothly managing both internal maintenance employees and externally contracted technicians that will be performing the work. Manpower resources make up a large portion of the total expenses associated with the outage so organization becomes just as important as those planning processes.

The paper will be of interest to industries that have a control valve population—including healthcare, food and beverage, chemical processing, oil and petrochemical, and institutional markets that perform plant outages for scheduled maintenance.

To download the full version of this white paper, go to http://bit.ly/1CYnk3B.

Natural Gas Summit

Railroad Commissioner David Porter coordinated the first-ever Texas Natural Gas Summit and Job Fair at Austin’s Palmer Events Center on Oct. 23. The Summit culminated the first year of Porter’s Natural Gas Initiative, which showcases the economic, environmental, and energy-security benefits of Texas natural gas.

The Summit connected candidates with more than 10,000 job openings from 64 exhibitors, including major employers like Atmos Energy, GE, Halliburton, and Ryder. Thirty natural gas vehicles and related equipment was on display.

Commissioner Porter made a special effort to connect military veterans with quality jobs in the state’s vibrant oil and natural gas industry. At his invitation, hundreds of transitioning servicemen and women from Camp Bullis, Camp Mabry, Fort Hood, Fort Sam Houston, Lackland Air Force Base, and Randolph Air Force Base  attended the Summit to meet with industry recruiters.

“Increasing activity and an aging workforce have the oil and gas industry eager to fill jobs,” Porter said. “That’s why I personally invited the leaders of military bases and institutions of higher education across Texas to send job seekers to the Natural Gas Summit.”

Qualified workers are needed for a wide range of jobs, including business managers, construction workers, engineers, field service technicians, finance and accounting professionals, mechanics, rig hands, sales and marketing professionals, truck drivers, and welders. These jobs pay well. The average oil and gas worker earns about $107,000 a year.

Since the Initiative’s launch last October, natural gas motor fuel displaced 16 million gallons of gasoline and diesel in Texas, more than doubling the forecast; the state’s natural gas fueling station count increased by 50 percent to 104; and, the state’s 7,148 natural gas vehicles for the first time outnumbered vehicles powered by any other alternative fuel. During the same period, investment in natural gas vehicles and fueling stations in Texas totaled $174 million, and oil and gas employment grew by 6.2 percent, to an all-time high of 297,800 jobs.

“Texas’ natural gas industry is generating big benefits for our state,” Porter said. “I look forward to helping more Texans enjoy those benefits at the Summit and in the future through my Natural Gas Initiative.”

Older Employee Retention

By Ruth W. Crocker, Ph.D

Mary loved her job as a recreational therapist in a skilled nursing facility. Her co-workers marveled at her ability to assess the needs of residents and propose the right activity for a patient recovering from a brain injury, stroke, or other trauma. Her thirty plus years of experience in all manner of expressive arts therapies helped her serve her patients well. She worked efficiently and effectively with quiet compassion.

And then came the inevitable hours of paperwork. For Mary, writing long detailed notes in medical charts was a normal part of her day. But, she wasn’t as speedy as she had been in the past, and documentation requirements were increasing. While a physicians’ notes are usually transcribed from a dictated recording, medical support staff still struggle through pages of writing by hand in many facilities. Her immediate supervisor, fifteen years her junior, pushed her to speed up.  Mary felt stressed and unable to cope with the continuing pressure. After starting to dread her job and feeling like she was getting worse instead of better, she applied for, and received, a medical leave of absence. Was this the best solution for Mary and her employer? Probably not.

Mary is one of many valuable older workers who could have stayed productive on the job with some modifications in her work environment. Employers today are facing the fact that we need to keep our older workforce in place longer and we need to help them stay healthy.  Baby boomers make up about one-third of the U.S. workforce, and for the first time in several generations, there are not enough younger workers to replace them. Key industries, especially those that rely on workers with proven performance, knowledge, skills, and self-confidence, will be forced by labor shortages to rethink employee retention and how best to ensure health and safety, by adjusting equipment and the work environment.

There are many fears and myths about “getting old” in our culture, but the reality is that people are living longer and healthier and can remain robust contributors to the workforce much longer than any previous generation. While age does not determine fitness, there are predictable changes that occur with age and can be accommodated. The following are guidelines for employers who want to maximize the working environment for their most valuable asset: the reliable, responsible, loyal, conscientious, co-operative, collaborative, wise older worker.

•           Maintaining an unmoving position for a long time is very tiring, especially standing, which puts pressure on blood vessels. Repeated and prolonged static work can be harder on the body than dynamic work. Provide opportunities to change posture or position during the workday. Adjust work surfaces to encourage position changes.

•           Sitting is generally good if chairs are well designed and adjustable. To avoid the dangers of prolonged sitting (weakened abdominal muscles, digestion and breathing problems and damage to spinal discs), provide training and information on sitting properly, and permit opportunities to walk about and stretch.

•           Provide appropriate equipment for assisting in any type of lifting. Workers of all ages are vulnerable to injury by improper lifting technique and lifting objects that are too heavy. Teach them to decrease the need to twist the trunk of the body during lifting, using leg strength rather than leaning over and placing the load as close to the body as possible.

•           Because hand grip strength gradually decreases as we get older, the right grip or handle becomes important. Smaller handles become more difficult to use. Provide tools and controls with user friendly handles.

•           Light reaching the retina of the eye declines by as much as 75 percent from age 20 to 50. Improved lighting helps all workers. Problems with adjusting to lighting contrasts can be improved by ensuring that the level of lighting in the room is similar to the light level on computer screens in the environment. Reduce glare by using low or non-glare computer screens.

•           Gradual, age-related hearing loss and decreased ability to hear high-pitched sounds can be addressed by installing sound-absorbing material (to neutralize sound) and by minimizing air-conditioning noise.

•           Offer incentives to encourage people to take part in fitness classes and quit-smoking campaigns. Older workers are more vulnerable to the possibility of sudden-onset and lasting health problems especially if they are unfit and overweight.

The previous tradition of older supervisors and younger workers has changed especially where workers are opting to stay on the job longer. It is important that younger supervisors be aware of different generational values and attitudes and avoid adopting a “child to parent” attitude towards an older worker. At the same time, treat older workers with the same requirements for performance and safety issues. Whether older or younger, each individual is different. In Mary’s case, her facility eventually adopted a voice-activated recording system which helped staff at all levels of the organization to get their notes written in a timely manner.

Businesses can improve their employee practices by having supervisors attend workshops on aging and the workforce. Talk to other employers who have successful experiences with hiring older employees and encourage employee feedback on aging issues by surveying your employees and listening to their concerns and suggestions. Hiring and retaining older workers can help your business grow.

Ruth W. Crocker

About the Author

Ruth W. Crocker, Ph.D is an author, writing consultant, and expert on recovery from trauma and personal tragedy. Her book, Those Who Remain: Remembrance and Reunion After War describes her experience following her husband’s death in Vietnam and how she found resources for healing. An excerpt has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2014. She is Writer-In-Residence at Riverlight Wellness Center in Stonington, CT where she teaches the art of writing memoir and personal stories. She is available for workshops, readings, and public speaking. Contact her at www.ruthwcrocker.com.

FTS International to Acquire J-W Wireline Company

FTS International (FTSI), one of the largest well completion service companies in North America, announced today that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire J-W Wireline Company. J-W Wireline, a subsidiary of J-W Energy Company, is one of the largest independent cased-hole wireline companies in North America.

The integration of FTSI’s existing wireline division and J-W Wireline will expand FTSI’s wireline service and geographical reach. FTSI’s wireline capacity will increase more than tenfold, and service will be extended to all locations where the company currently offers hydraulic fracturing services, including the Permian Basin; Eagle Ford, Marcellus, Utica, and Haynesville shales; and various mid-continent plays.

FTSI will offer its customers vertical and horizontal (pump down) perforating, comprehensive cased-hole logging services including cement bond logs and production logging, slickline, braided line, tubing conveyed perforating (TCP), pipe recovery, and mechanical services.

“This acquisition gives us a national wireline footprint and aligns with FTSI’s strategic plans for future growth,” FTSI Chief Executive Officer Greg Lanham said. “This provides us the ability to offer a more comprehensive and efficient bundle of well completion services for our customers.”

The acquisition includes a J-W Wireline manufacturing facility that will complement FTSI’s existing manufacturing capabilities. In addition, a J-W Wireline training facility will augment FTSI’s extensive HSE (health, safety, and environmental) training program.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2014. FTSI intends to pay for the acquisition from cash on hand and existing credit facilities. The terms of the transaction are not being disclosed by the parties.

J-W Wireline’s current President, Perry Harris, will lead the expanded FTSI wireline division. Mr. Harris brings more than 30 years of senior management experience in the oil and gas industry. “We look forward to becoming part of the FTSI team and believe this combination provides improved opportunities for our employees and expanded solutions for both J-W Wireline and FTSI customers,” Mr. Harris said.

Mr. Lanham added, “We welcome the more than 400 employees of J-W Wireline to the FTSI family. They are a tremendous addition to our team, and we look forward to shaping our future together.”

ExxonMobil to Invest

ExxonMobil has signed an agreement to become a founding member of the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI), a unique collaboration aimed at working together to advance and explore the future of energy. MIT President Rafael Reif and TJ Wojnar, Jr., president of ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company (EMRE), launched the collaborative effort during a ceremony at MIT.

“At MIT, we find that working closely with industry alerts us to real-world problems and opportunities for progress. There is simply no better way to ensure that our research has an impact in the world,” said MIT President Rafael Reif. “That concept is at the heart of our long and successful relationship with ExxonMobil. In choosing to join MITEI, ExxonMobil is increasing the scope and breadth of our collaboration, demonstrating a strong commitment that intensifies our shared focus on inventing the future of energy technologies.”

“ExxonMobil has had a long and productive relationship with the outstanding faculty and students at MIT. This new agreement will enable us to explore new ideas and new areas of research by partnering with some of the brightest researchers across a wide range of disciplines,” said Wojnar. “If we are going to continue to meet the world’s growing energy demand, we need to leverage partnerships such as this one with MITEI to help find efficient, scalable, and responsible ways to bring affordable energy to global markets.”

Through this new agreement, ExxonMobil will collaborate with MIT on a wide range of projects, including research to improve and expand renewable energy sources and find more efficient ways to produce and use conventional hydrocarbon resources. The agreement will also be utilized to establish 10 graduate energy fellowship appointments each year at MIT (ExxonMobil Energy Fellows). These fellowships will support operating costs and expenses for talented graduate students while they pursue their selected areas of study and research.

At the core of ExxonMobil’s businesses are several key research organizations that work collaboratively on new technologies. ExxonMobil conducts cutting-edge R&D through a combination of in-house efforts, collaborations with industry partners, and sponsored research at academic and nongovernmental institutions. This latest investment significantly increases its long-term partnership with MIT and is part of a larger, ongoing effort by the company to explore early stage innovative projects through partnerships with other leading universities around the world.

“The MIT Energy Initiative is a great example of a university-industry collaboration that is searching for technological solutions to the world’s current and future energy challenges. Access to reliable and abundant sources of energy is, and will continue to be, essential for societal progress,” said Wojnar.

The Best Bosses Are…

What Every Employee Wants from You as a Leader

By: DeEtta Jones

Do you ever feel overwhelmed as a manager? Being overburdened by the responsibility of having to figure out what others want and need of you is a familiar feeling shared among leaders. Fortunately, there is a “best practice” for obtaining just the kind of information needed to increase your leadership effectiveness—ask them what they want.

The following 10 traits have emerged when front line staff, supervisors and middle managers have been asked to describe the traits they look for in a boss. As you read through their “wish list,” think about the kind of boss you are, you want to be, and what you look for in a good boss.

Employees want bosses who are:

1.         Innovative

Good bosses have good ideas but their role in innovation is more as facilitator than consummate mastermind. They are not threatened by the talent of their employees and cultivate a working environment that allows each person’s creativity to come forward. They facilitate innovation.

2.         Coaches

Good bosses provide important education and guidance that helps an employee see how her work is contributing to the larger goals of the organization. They help employees build confidence by giving stretch assignments that require demonstration of new skills and right-sized risk, then feedback that allows needed course corrections to be made early enough to avoid a major failure.  When employees do fail, good bosses encourage reflection and identification of learning that can be applied to future endeavors.

3.         Caring

Good bosses listen to their employees and show an interest in their opinion. They provide opportunities to talk openly, showing interest in their employees’ opinion. They encourage personal and professional growth, sometimes by giving access to resources (like professional development experiences) and sometimes by removing barriers.

4.         Strategic

Good bosses can make hard choices and have the finesse needed to get people behind even sometimes unpopular decisions. They are able to secure resources for important initiative worth pursuing. They use analytical frameworks for guiding change, promoting transparent processes, and communication. Strategic bosses are decisive (not to be confused with closed-minded or dogmatic). Once a decision has been made, they stick with it and avoid changing directions quickly or sending mixed messages.

5.         Visionary

Good bosses are also visionary managers, able to clearly see and build a commitment toward a compelling future state. They articulate a sense of direction, map out the path, and shepherd the process.

6.         Demonstrate Trustworthiness

A good boss is genuine, has integrity, and behaves in a manner consistent with his word and values. Employees trust bosses they know to be intelligent, capable, and have a demonstrated track record of acting in their best interest. They give and receive (even invite) feedback, affirmative and constructive. They are fully aware of their scope of power in the organization and in their relationship with employees, how an off-handed comment or unpleasant glance may ruin someone’s entire weekend.

7.         Accessible and Adaptable

Good bosses are able to balance how they give support and direction with the freedom employees need to do their work, acknowledging the level of experience and expertise over his domain. They understand that each employee comes to the workplace with unique experiences, needs, and cultural lenses that will require individualized attention and support, and can adapt their own style to ensure effective communication and levels of productivity.

8.         Passionate

A good boss has a fire in their belly about something—particularly the mission of the organization and the people with whom they work and who their products and services are meant to touch. They are the first to roll up their sleeves to contribute, and model the level of motivation and quality required for achievement of organizational goals. They help employees stay connected to their own passion by encouraging the sharing of ideas and then helping to shape them to fit within and be supported by the larger organization.

9.         Champions

People want to know that the person to whom they report is on their side, even when mistakes are made. Champions look for opportunities to catch their employees doing a good job, and go out of their way to point it out. They don’t take the credit for their employees’ work, and they don’t throw an employee under the bus—ever. They “influence up” by being a conduit between their employees and higher level decision makers, often helping their employees develop the language and influence strategies needed to take an idea to the top of the organization.

10.       Fun

Good bosses are willing to laugh and value a work environment that encourages meaningful relationships between colleagues. They inspire us by making the connection from our head to our heart about the importance of our work and our value to the company.

Here’s the leadership next step: reflect on the list and identify qualities you are modeling.  Think about where there is room for growth in your leadership practice—growth that will lead to increased levels of motivation and engagement. Finally, begin today encouraging your employees to share their own needs allowing for timely adjustments.

Remember, leadership is a journey. Bon voyage!

DeEtta Jones

About the Author

DeEtta Jones is a leadership strategist, social justice advocate and author. She has more than 20 years of experience working with individual leaders and teams in some of the world’s most prominent universities and corporations. Her multidimensional background and fresh perspective leaves clients feeling heard and empowered to take on some of the major organizational and workforce challenges of our times. For more information or to have DeEtta speak at your next event, please visit http://www.deettajones.com.

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