Cholla has developed into an entrepreneurial organization seeking exploration opportunities to leverage our capabilities and adventurous mindset in order to create long-term value. As an active operator, Cholla has an established track record of grit, perseverance, and creative problem solving. We have drilled over 350 wells in the last 10 years and are always pursuing new growth opportunities.
Cholla traces its roots back to our founder L.W. “Slim” Powell. Born in 1900, Slim had to drop out of school in the 6th grade to begin working in cotton fields in order to earn a living for his family, following the death of his father. Slim would go on to become one of the pioneers of the Texas oil business by greatly contributing to the massive East Texas field development in the 1930s; so much so that the Powell name became synonymous with East Texas pioneer oil personalities.
Slim’s first taste of the oil business began in 1916, when he became an oil field pumper on Caddo Lake in East Texas. In 1926, Slim became a drilling superintendent and production manager in Wink, Texas, for Southern Crude Oil, which later became Standard Oil Co. He also oversaw twelve cable tool rigs in the Hendrick pool. The lure of oil led Slim back east to the “East Texas'' field. While Slim found success in the early 30’s, he would go on to lose it all chasing that black gold and glory in Louisiana. With determination and grit, he started over in 1944, after working as a welder in the Houston, Texas shipyards to earn a living. Slim purchased a broken-down Cardwell drilling rig with his savings and began contract drilling in East Texas. Over time he slowly crawled his way back, always cautious to the lessons he learned early in his career.
“Slim” Powell had one son, Loyd, and the predestined youngster never knew any other existence but backroads, barbecue and turning to the right! While other boys were involved in school athletics, young Loyd was constantly by his father’s side at drilling rigs, catching samples from the shale shaker and learning the doghouse lingo. He received a hands-on education in the oil business by seeing firsthand what it took to make a life in the Texas oil patch.
Following his father’s death at the young age of 29, Loyd Powell Jr. took the lessons his father had taught him and took over operations to build the company into his vision. Loyd is a true self-taught Texas oil explorer with a keen interest in the “history” of the oil business. Over the years he has earned a dynamic reputation as a successful, creative, and consistent oil and gas entrepreneur.
Originally operated as L & M Oil Company, in 1989 Cholla Petroleum Inc. was selected as the company’s new name and began expanding exploration efforts. Loyd has led Cholla through many booms and busts, slowly growing productions to 2000+ BO/D by 2011 . Cholla expanded its production through the years into Oklahoma, Arkansas and Colorado, along with North, Central and West Texas.
In 2013, after spending a few years in Midland, Texas, Gideon O. Powell, Loyd’s oldest son, joined the company full time to lead Cholla’s expansion into the Permian basin. Another generation of Powells began to challenge conventional exploration practices by going where others were unwilling to go. Cholla focused on acquiring unproven prospective acreage. In order to move up the learning curve of operation in the Permian Basin, Cholla would sell a piece of the prospect to other operators and participate as a non-op partner. With a subsurface focused and aggressive leasing campaign, Cholla participated as a non-op partner in 50,000+ net acres from 2013 to 2018.
Throughout this time, the company leveraged its relationships, leasehold, and large mineral ownership to accumulate data, accelerate best practices and develop a focused vision for the company and its desired capabilities. Cholla now utilizes its subsurface knowledge, operational & technical capabilities, and risk tolerant capital to pursue a portfolio of exploration prospects where early mover advantage can be captured. Cholla experienced a pivotal year in 2019 when we spud our first operated horizontal. Shortly after the completion of the first operated horizontal well, Cholla along with the entire industry, was hit with a horrific downturn. Paired with a healthy balance sheet and proven leadership, Cholla was able to navigate the downturn. Since 2018 Cholla has diligently grown technical and operating capabilities by continuing to hire new team members to better prepare the company for the next phase of growth.