April 29--Gene Powell, publisher of the Powell Shale Digest, is known by many names.
"Barnett Shale guru," "Information Sage," and probably the best of them all, "Oracle of the Barnett Shale."
So, it was with some sadness that it was disclosed this week that the 78-year-old veteran oil and gas man was shutting down his influential industry newsletter, not only because of the drastic drop in Barnett Shale drilling activity, but due to illness.
Powell has cancer, and apparently it is a fight he is not expected to win, according to Will Brackett, the newsletter's former managing editor.
Gene's health has declined to the point where he is now no longer able to work and regretfully he is unable to wish everyone a farewell in his own words, Will Brackett, managing editor of the Powell Shale Digest
"Gene's health has declined to the point where he is now no longer able to work and regretfully he is unable to wish everyone a farewell in his own words," Brackett wrote in a farewell column Tuesday. "So it is left to me with the tall task of speaking on his behalf."
Powell is credited with the discovery of ten crude oil and two natural gas fields, and in 2012 was named by Hart Energy's Oil & Gas Investor Magazine as one of the 49 Legends of the Oil & Gas Industry, Brackett writes. Powell appartently was involved in the energy industry for 50 years.
Ironically, Powell initially gave the Barnett Shale a thumbs down in 1999 when its potential as a major natural gas field was first mentioned, Brackett said. The next year, he still wasn't impressed.
"However, in early 2003, Gene examined the Barnett for a third time and his tune completely changed. So I guess you could say the third time really was the charm," Brackett said.
Working as a consultant, Powell started sending out what he called the Powell Barnett Shale Newsletter as a pdf to 38 clients. Years later, after renaming the newsletter to reflect its national coverage, it grew to over 1,000 readers every week.
The fact that Powell is shutting down the publication is made even more bittersweet by the fact that for the past three weeks there have been no drilling rigs in the Barnett, a play that at one time was the laboratory for hydraulic fracturing and supported nearly 200 rigs.
"I thought, 'Wow!' We would be bowing out now," Brackett told the Star-Telegram.
Powell has been a good friend to this newspaper over the years, freely sharing his expertise about the oil and gas business with grace, wit, and what Brackett calls his "passion for research."
We wish him well.
Max B. Baker: 817-390-7714, @MaxbakerBB
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