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August 9, 2011 
Sutherland LTIle

Hello, Houston! Allow us to introduce ourselves: Bisnow is now the largest commercial real estate publication and event producer in the US and we ply our trade in more than a dozen major metros. We're so excited to launch our new Energy Bisnow publication.


University of Houston petroleum engineering director Tom Holley runs his program like a successful NFL franchise. With money on the line, the man at the top needs the best possible talent to produce a winner, he told us yesterday.


Tom (whom we snapped in his office at the UH Energy Research Park sporting Cougar Red) landed top talent when he lured one of the nation’s top researchers in the petroleum engineering field, Texas A&M professor John Lee. Two key things attracted John—a chance to build a program and the fact that Houston is an oil Mecca. There are roughly 20 universities with petroleum engineering departments and the two dominant teams are Texas and Texas A&M. The undergrad program at Houston has about 200 students total, many of them foreign-born, and Holley is not looking to make any cuts. The first class of 20 is entering its junior year (small compared to the 130/50 undergrads/masters that graduate A&M and 86/24 that graduate UT each year).

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Tom lives the motto: "World class petroleum engineering in the center of world petroleum.” About 90% of petroleum engineering students go straight into the industry for top dollar without graduate studies. ($80k starting salaries, anyone?) No other BS degree comes close to that and the oil industry can’t get enough of these grads. (Schlumberger has been predicting major shortages for years.) Tom is scouting for more hard-to-find big names like Lee to add to his roster. With a masters program in place, the doctorate program is two years away. ConocoPhillips has donated $1M and plans to donate millions more to fuel the program along with money from other donors. Tom is bringing UH to the table... hungry.


Yesterday, we tracked down Weaver partner and CPA Trey Hunt in his 24 Greenway Plaza office. He tells us his company is big into Joint Interest Billing, a technique that allows the many companies on an upstream project to share in both the risk and reward on a percentage basis. Trey recommends that companies build this system into daily operations to stave off costs and potential animosity. Weaver's energy clients range from multi-billion dollar companies (many local) down to start-ups. Outside work, Trey is an avid reader of spy novels and has hunted down autographs from many authors including Daniel Silva and Vince Flynn. (He has other autographs, but if he told you he'd have to kill you.)


Next time you play Monopoly, buy B&O. Savage Services is expecting a significant increase to its bottom line because the oil pipelines are full, senior VP of engineering Boyd Draper tells us. To satisfy demand, Savage is building a destination train terminal in Port Arthur and an origin terminal in Trenton, ND (a 270-acre site). Crude has to be moved to the refineries, while frack sand and supplies are being railed to the gas wells. Savage is one of several companies investing capital in rail (we'll try to get an interview with Rockefeller). Top rail lines are not set up to load and unload difficult materials and they are not interested “in the first and last mile.” Savage terminals will be designed to handle difficult materials in large quantities.


Apache Corp legal assistant Susie Zaccaria (with Apache’s Midland cycling team captain Pete Bawa) is known for giving of herself—this time she's giving away one of her kidneys. When she ran into an old friend struggling with diabetes recently, her friend told her needed a kidney. So Susie got tested and matched as a suitable donor. Later this month, this single mom is going in for the four-hour surgery and will recover in the hospital. She will need two to six weeks to build up her strength so she can jump back on her bike. But what about her duties at Apache? The firm is letting her heal without taking vacation days.

With the resurgence of trains, will there be a resurgence of train robbers? If you've seen the outlaw Jesse James let us know, email greg.miller@bisnow.com
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