2018 Archives

Two High Profile Energy Industry Leaders Honored at SMU Cox

Pitts Energy Leadership Award to Greg Armstrong, Pioneer Award to T. Boone Pickens

February 1, 2018

Dallas, TX (SMU) February 1, 2018—The Maguire Energy Institute at SMU Cox School of Business honors Greg Armstrong, CEO of Plains All American, with the L. Frank Pitts Energy Leadership Award at a sold-out luncheon ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 1, on the SMU campus. Oilman and entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens, founder of Mesa Petroleum, among other successful endeavors, is the recipient of the Maguire Energy Institute Pioneer Award.

Long-term impact to the energy industry is one of the factors that the Maguire Institute’s Energy Leadership Award committee considers as it selects oil and gas leaders annually for these two awards. The Pitts Energy Leadership Award annually honors an individual who exemplifies a spirit of ethical leadership in the energy industry. The equally prestigious Pioneer Award is presented to energy industry trailblazers.

“The Institute is proud to honor Greg Armstrong,” said Bruce Bullock, director of the Maguire Energy Institute. “Greg has demonstrated a steady record of company leadership, industry leadership and innovation throughout a distinguished career, much like Frank Pitts in his day.  We are also pleased to present our Pioneer Award to T. Boone Pickens, who is a legend in this industry.  Both of these men are making big differences not only in the petroleum industry, but in the communities in which they live and operate”   

Greg Armstrong, CEO of Plains All American
Greg Armstrong

A native of Durant, Oklahoma, Armstrong joined PriceWaterhouse after he graduated from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in 1980 with a BS in Accounting and Management. He assisted Plains, a small exploration and production company, with its IPO in 1981. A few months later, at age 23, he became the company’s controller and corporate secretary. As the company grew, he took on additional responsibilities, including serving as senior vice president, executive vice president, chief operating officer and president. In 1992, at age 34, he was named chief executive officer. The deregulation of crude oil and natural gas resulted in Plains forming its own marketing subsidiary, which became Plains All American Pipeline. Armstrong served in dual roles as CEO of Plains Resources and Plains All American until 2001. Since then, he has focused his attention on Plains All American, which currently ranks 141 in the Fortune 500.

In addition to his duties with Plains All American, Armstrong serves as deputy chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and chairman of the National Petroleum Council. He is also a director of National Oilwell Varco Inc., as well as a member of the Cox School’s Maguire Energy Institute Advisory Board at SMU. A distinguished alumnus of Southeastern Oklahoma State University, he was inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame in 2015. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of non-profit The Foundation for The Council on Recovery.

T. Boone Pickens, founder of Mesa Petroleum
T. Boone Pickens

Pioneer Award honoree T. Boone Pickens built one of the nation’s largest independent oil companies, Mesa Petroleum. Pickens’ father was a landman in Oklahoma and Texas. After earning his geology degree in 1951 from Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State University), he worked for Phillips Petroleum for three years, then struck out on his own in 1954. With two investors, he formed an oil and gas firm called Petroleum Exploration, Inc., which preceded Mesa Petroleum. He took Mesa Petroleum public in the mid-60s. Mesa gained national attention for its oil and gas exploration and development arena, and various acquisition efforts. In his 70s, Pickens reinvented himself as a successful investment fund operator with BP Capital. In 2008, he launched the Pickens Plan, a $100 million grass-roots campaign aimed at reducing U.S. dependence on OPEC oil.

Pickens is a member of the All-American Wildcatters Association, which recognizes industry members of good character, respected by their peers and possessing inherent integrity. He has been honored by numerous industry and media organizations, including Forbes Magazine, which named him one of the 100 “Greatest Living Business Minds” in 2017, and Time Magazine, which included him on its 2009 list of 100 of the “World’s Most Influential People.” Dubbed the “Oracle of Oil” by CNBC, he is a member of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, the Texas Business Hall of Fame and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. Pickens has donated more than $1 billion to philanthropic causes.  

Armstrong is the eighth recipient of the L. Frank Pitts Energy Leadership Award. The first award was presented in 2010 to Ray L. Hunt, chairman and CEO of Hunt Oil Company and chairman, CEO and president of Hunt Consolidated, Inc. The 2011 recipient was J. Larry Nichols, now retired co-founder and executive chairman of Devon Energy Corporation. Mark Papa, now retired chairman and CEO of EOG Resources, Inc., received the award in 2012. Scott Sheffield, chairman and CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources Company, was the 2013 honoree. In December 2014, the Pitts Award was presented to David Miller, co-founder and managing partner of EnCap Investments, L.P. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was honored in January of 2016, while he was still serving as chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil. Trevor Rees-Jones, founder and CEO of Dallas-based Chief Oil & Gas LLC, was honored in 2017.

The Maguire Energy Institute Pioneer Award was first presented in 2011. Three iconic Texas oilmen were honored that year, including retired oil and gas executive John Harbin, who served as CEO of two different energy companies and chairman of the third one. Louis A. Beecherl, Jr., former chairman and president of the Texas Oil & Gas Corporation (which eventually merged with U.S. Steel Corporation) and William P. Clements, Jr., who co-founded Southeastern Drilling Company Inc. (SEDCO) and eventually served two nonconsecutive terms as Texas governor, were both honored posthumously. Edwin L. Cox, who spent his career in oil and gas exploration and became the benefactor of the Cox School in 1978, received the Pioneer Award in 2012. Forrest Hoglund, retired chairman and CEO of EOG Resources and current chairman and CEO of SeaOne Holdings LLC, was the fifth legendary industry figure to receive the honor. Pickens becomes the sixth Pioneer Award recipient.

The L. Frank Pitts Energy Leadership Award was created in 2010 to honor the legacy of Texas oilman and independent oil and natural gas producer L. Frank Pitts, who participated in the drilling of more than 3,000 wells over almost seven decades. The late oilman served as a member of the Maguire Energy Institute Advisory Board. Pitts’ daughter, SMU alumna Linda Pitts Custard (BA ’60, EMBA ’99), is a former member of the SMU Board of Trustees, and she serves on the Award Event Committee for the Pitts Energy Leadership Award Luncheon.

The annual Pitts Energy Leadership Award event raises funds to support the Maguire Energy Institute, named in honor of oilman and co-founder Cary M. Maguire, as well as BBA and MBA scholarships for students with degree concentrations in energy. A portion of the proceeds raised by this year’s event will help support the educational goals of two SMU Cox students, Florida native and SMU BBA Energy Club Vice President Knox McKay Schieffelin and Fort Worth native and SMU MBA Energy Club President Matthew Keffler. Schieffelin will complete her BBA in finance, with a concentration in energy management in May 2018. She was summer analyst intern with Pioneer Natural Resources. Keffler will complete his MBA in May 2018, with a double concentration in finance and accounting. He currently serves as an associate intern for Petro Capital Securities, LLC.

Identification for the 1104 photo, left to right R. Gerald Turner, President SMU Matthew Keffler, MBA ’18, Pitts Energy Leadership Graduate Award Scholarship Recipient Greg Armstrong, CEO of Plains All American, L. Frank Pitts Award Honoree T. Boone Pickens, Chairman, BP Capital, Pioneer Award Honoree  Bobby Lyle SMU ‘67, Chairman, President and CEO of Lyco Holdings, Inc. and SMU Trustee Knox Schieffelin, BBA ’18, Pitts Energy Leadership Undergraduate Scholarship Recipient  Bruce Bullock, SMU ’81, Director, SMU Cox Maguire Energy Institute Matthew Myers, Dean, SMU Cox School of Business
Attending the awards presentation were (left to right) R. Gerald Turner, President of SMU; Matthew Keffler, MBA ’18, Pitts Energy Leadership Graduate Award Scholarship Recipient; Greg Armstrong, CEO of Plains All American and L. Frank Pitts Award Honoree; T. Boone Pickens, Chairman of BP Capital and Pioneer Award Honoree;  Bobby Lyle SMU ‘67, Chairman, President and CEO of Lyco Holdings, Inc. and SMU Trustee; Knox Schieffelin, BBA ’18, Pitts Energy Leadership Undergraduate Scholarship Recipient;  Bruce Bullock, SMU ’81, Director of SMU Cox Maguire Energy Institute; and Matthew Myers, Dean of SMU Cox School of Business.




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