With its drilling portfolio in west Texas, southeastern New Mexico and North Dakota, WPX Energy the past few years questioned whether to make Tulsa its permanent home.
“It would have been really easy to think about Houston or Dallas-Fort Worth or Midland-Odessa or Denver, quite honestly,” WPX chairman and CEO Rick Muncrief says. “But when we looked at it, at the end of the day, we said we’ve done very well here.
“We’ve reestablished the company identity. We’ve developed a much stronger culture. We felt that a lot of things were going our way, so let’s just dig in here.”
And dig in it has.
The company is expanding its local footprint by building an 11-story, 260,000-square-foot headquarters downtown at 222 N. Detroit Ave. The firm’s 450 employees are expected to move from the BOK Tower to the new facility by the spring of 2022.
“It always helps me when people say, ‘Why Tulsa?’ ” says Muncrief, selected as one of Tulsa World Magazine’s Tulsans of the Year. “And I say, ‘Why not Tulsa? We’re an energy town. We have the world’s largest drilling contractor, H&P Drilling, located here.’”
“They don’t have a comeback for that.”
A 2011 spinoff from Williams Cos., WPX sported a 2018 Tulsa payroll of $55 million, paying out more than $10 million in employee bonuses via its annual incentive program. Company careers average at least $100,000 a year.
Muncrief, who joined WPX in 2014 and was named chairman of the company two years later, is a third-generation energy worker. His first paying oil field gig was when he was 17 — his parents signed a waiver — and he roughnecked on drilling rigs through college.
“I kind of grew up in it,” Muncrief says. “I was always enthralled with the drilling piece of it… When you’re 17, 18 years old and you get out around the big rigs and the iron — I always had like an engineer bent, so I liked things like loud engines and fast cars and big dams — it was really pretty exciting.”
The same level of enthusiasm — over every demographic — can be found at WPX, he says. Muncrief is happy a city the size of Tulsa will be where the company’s future will play out.
“There’s a vibe to Tulsa that I think is really positive,” he says. “… If you have a 10- or 15- or 20-minute commute, that means you have 30 minutes a week or an hour of the week you can give back to the community.
“It may be coaching Little League baseball. It may be teaching in Sunday School. It may be volunteering as a reading partner, helping the homeless. We’ve been really blessed, so we want to give back.”
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