When the oil and gas industry is hurting, so is Oklahoma. However, something happened Thursday that an energy executive said could be a game changer.
The merger between WPX and Devon Energy is final. When this deal was announced, WPX was in the middle of building a new headquarters in downtown Tulsa. Company leaders say, regardless of the merger, the building will be completed.
“Our roots were in Tulsa. Our roots 10 years ago spun out of Williams company, large pipeline company,” new Devon Energy CEO Rick Muncrief said.
40-year oil and gas veteran Muncrief said the decision to leave Tulsa wasn’t an easy one.
“When the virus hit, we had to adjust. One thing we realized is we needed to be a strong company and in order to be a strong company, this opportunity to merge with Devon presented itself,” Muncrief said.
The opportunity to become fifth largest unconventional oil producer in the country is one that he couldn't pass up. The company will use the Devon Energy name and existing headquarters in Oklahoma City, with Muncrief as the new CEO.
“I think it’s good for Oklahoma because you bring two strong companies together to build a stronger Oklahoma-based company. Had you not have had that, there’s a chance either company, being publicly-traded, could be bought out by a larger company and relocated. So just because you’re currently located in Oklahoma City or Tulsa, doesn’t mean it will always be that way,” Muncrief said.
Muncrief said he’s committed to finishing construction of a new building in downtown Tulsa.
“We’ve had a lot of interest in that building, from people wanting to buy and rent, so we’re very confident that with a recovering economy and where that is located, it’s going to be a wonderful addition, with or without WPX,” Muncrief said.
He said he doesn't expect to know how many Tulsa workers will be joining them in Oklahoma City until the middle of next month, but he insists that any employees who are laid off will be taken care of.
“You want to treat people right. That’s part of your legacy is, as leader, people get it, tough decisions have to be made, but people want to be treated right, treated fairly and that’s the way it ought to be,” Muncrief said.
Meanwhile, crews will continue work to complete the building that was once set to become WPX's headquarters.
“There is a lot of symbolism with architecture connecting the Greenwood district with the arts district and making it a welcoming-type building,” Muncrief said.
Muncrief said he's optimistic that the oil and gas industry will start to pick up in the second half of this year and into 2022 as the pandemic fades from view.