Talos Energy and the New Gulf of Mexico

As Hurricane Harvey devastated his hometown of Houston, Texas, CEO Tim Duncan was hammering out the details of a $2.5 billion deal that could very well determine the future of Talos Energy. While his home sat several feet underwater, Duncan continued to laboriously negotiate from the dry mother’s kitchen, in a higher and drier part of the city.

The deal finalized Talos’ acquisition of competitor Stone Energy. Earlier this year, Duncan found himself in charge of an oil company making $900 million in annual revenue, partly from 48,000 barrels of oil pumped out of the Gulf of Mexico.

Duncan got his start in Mexican waters, back with the now-defunct Zilkha Energy. As a young engineer he developed an understaning of the complexities of deep-water drilling, and an appreciation for the political complications of that energy market. So when it came time to open up Talos, he sought out assets to begin drilling, spending a relatively modest $620 million for the Phoenix oil field.

When the energy market experiencing a crash in 2013, Duncan put Talos’ business strategy into motion, acquiring assets as a bargain as competitors fell. This cost-effective measure factored in greatly when exploring the Gulf of Mexico, where waters are high-risk, increasing cost to oil companies like Talos. Just five miles of drilling can cost $200 million in operations.

AS more operations turn to fracking on land, Duncan chose the less populated, but more challenging waters of Mexico. In partnership with Premier Oil and Sierra Oil & Gas, Talos was able to access more territory. It was the first time a company outside the country had been granted access to drill there by the Mexican government in eight decades.

Halfway through 2018, Duncan’s home in Houston, ruined by last year’s hurricane, has been stripped down to the foundation, awaiting renovations. But he’s looking forward to it. Reflecting on the damage from last year’s storm, Duncan says the experience reminded him the importance of challenge and the reward that is being able to create something new from scratch, finding opportunity where many others might only focus on what they’ve lost.