News • August 31, 2022
Five Questions with Dan Lopata, VP – Marcellus
As a Business Unit Vice President, Dan Lopata leads the team responsible for the development and production operations of our leasehold in Pennsylvania.
What interested you most about the oil and gas industry? What initially drew you to it?
I went to Marietta College [in Marietta, Ohio] to play baseball, and the only engineering program they offered was petroleum, so that’s what I did. I quickly realized that engineering, not baseball, was going to be a better choice for me, so I began focusing full time on engineering by the mid-point of freshman year.
I became interested in the industry largely because of my dad, who spent his career in oil and gas and a good majority of it working for Chesapeake out in our NE operations. When I joined Chesapeake, I quickly realized I had a passion for providing energy to the area I grew up in, near the Marcellus. It was energizing to feel like I was giving back to my community.
As a Chesapeake employee of over a decade, what advice do you have for others interested in growing their careers?
I’ve worked for Chesapeake since college, beginning as an intern in our Drilling Engineering department. This year I celebrate 13 years with the company.
The advice I share with employees is to always take a seat at the table and work to serve the company as a whole. At some point after reservoir engineering and before my role as Bravos Valley Production Manager, I started participating in conversations and responsibilities slightly outside of my direct role. These projects supported CHK as a company, rather than just my direct department or BU.
You can always sit and wait for opportunities to come to you — but I received positive feedback when I chose to raise my hand and speak up on items I thought needed change, and I encourage my team to do the same.
Tell us a little about the various roles and responsibilities you’ve had at Chesapeake. Did you have any unexpected career shifts?
I have spent the majority of my time at Chesapeake in various engineering roles. I learned the most about oil and gas operations through my first role as field Drilling Engineer where I worked in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and finished up in Pennsylvania. Following that experience, I came to Oklahoma City as a Drilling Engineer in the Eagle Ford group. This was a crazy, busy time — ramping up to our peak rig count of about 34 in South Texas. At any given time, an engineer would have 4 to 6 rigs in their responsibility.
This is where my first unexpected career shift came: my VP of Drilling encouraged me to leave the drilling group to get some reservoir engineering experience. I left drilling in 2013 for our Rockies reservoir engineering group, which was a big deal in my career progression and experience. In the next two years, I learned a great deal about the bigger engineering picture at Chesapeake, which prepared me for my next role as South Texas Planning and Logistics Supervisor. Similar to the roles we have today with the Project Managers, this role was a developmental rotation where individuals got some people leadership experience as well as tremendous business experience in pulling all the parts of a BU investment plan together.
From there I moved into management, serving as Production Manager in the Gulf Coast BU. While with this team, I learned a great deal about high pressure production and well work operations. In 2018 with the purchase of WildHorse I moved over to lead the production organization for our newly created Brazos Valley asset. Soon after, we combined many Eagle Ford leadership roles and I took on both South Texas and BV for the production organization.
You’ve experienced many roles and responsibilities — and a lot of change — at Chesapeake. What is something that has not changed?
Chesapeake has always had a commitment to endlessly seek operational and engineering excellence. Our performance is owned and pushed by every employee, and, in a positive, developmental way, we rarely feel satisfied with the status quo. Our team recognizes that there is always more to do and more to improve upon. This mentality has placed us in the top quartile within our assets, across most performance metrics.
As you look to the future, what are you most excited about for Chesapeake and our employees?
With financial health comes the ability for this company to do what we are really good at — producing the most efficient energy for all the markets we serve. Chesapeake strives to be the operator of choice in all areas where we operate, a title we have earned through our investments in our operations, HSER culture and ESG efforts. CHK strives to be the best consolidator of assets, which will further improve our efficiency in developing energy. I am excited for us to responsibly grow and work alongside industry peers to establish a more appropriate reputation for the energy industry.
“You can always sit and wait for opportunities to come to you — but I received positive feedback when I chose to raise my hand and speak up on items I thought needed change, and I encourage my team to do the same,” said Dan Lopata, VP – Marcellus
Dan’s company portal photo in 2008 and in 2022.