Talos Energy CEO Takes Huge Risks That May Just Pay Off

In the wake of massive floodwaters that ravaged Houston after Hurricane Harvey swept its wrath upon the biggest city in Texas, Talso Energy CEO Tim Duncan hunkered down at his mother’s kitchen table and cobbled together the biggest deal of his life.

Like thousands of other Houston residents, Duncan and his family barely had time to flee rising floodwaters that swallowed whole neighborhoods. He wrangled the use of a private plane to spirit away his family to safety in Alabama — that was after the Duncans and their two dogs waded through chest-high floodwater, clambered aboard a FEMA rescue boat and made it to dry land.

With his wife, 6-year-old son and mutts safe and settled in another state, Tim Duncan made a beeline back to Houston two days later. The city was still in crisis, but Duncan needed to be where he needed to be to finalize a merger he had been working toward for months.

Fortunately, the house of Duncan’s mother remained in one of Houston’s high-and-dry locations. He set up a makeshift office on his mother’s kitchen table and completed the deal to buy the bankrupt Stone Energy. Merging with this publicly traded by spent operation was risky, but Tim Duncan is the kind of oil man that takes the road less traveled.

While other energy operations are going for the low-hanging fruit — such as fracking in places like the Permian basin of west Texas — Duncan’s Talos Energy is offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Not only that, but Talos is the first privately-held American company to strike a deal with Mexico to explore for oil in that country’s territory in some 80 years. Mexico privatized its oil industry in 1938.

Talos Energy teamed up with a British energy company and a Mexican operation to drop a new well in the Gulf — and the result was a strike that may be in the range of 2 billion barrels of crude. The so-called ZAMA well is sitting under just 550 feet of water off the Mexican state of Tabasco. It may produce in excess of 100,000 barrels per day. Talso Energy is roughly a one-third partner in the ZAMA discovery.

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