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My June column about Edward Mike “Tiger Mike” Davis generated numerous comments from the readers of E&P. I share some of those with you here and encourage you to keep ‘em coming!
Here are some of the best responses I got about my June column about Edward Mike “Tiger Mike” Davis.
Although I always enjoy reading E&P for its technical content and your comments on exploration technology, the lighter side of your column of June 2009 brought back some memories and some smiles.
I did work for Mike Davis for one day in 1984 and, incidentally, was never paid for my services. Unfortunately he is not the only one with that characteristic and, presently, some “respectable” companies are not paying their bills, either.
He was interested in “expanding his operations” in the Middle East (the Persian Gulf, actually) and called me to drop by his office which, at the time was located in Greenway Plaza.
He had a very spacious, but cluttered, office with all sorts of memorabilia (it seems that when one reaches a position of power, he carries all his memorabilia with him in his office). He did not wear his usual (as you describe it) khaki polyester leisure suit but, instead, wore a light beige striped seer-sucker suit with, of course, the white belt and shoes. He was of slight build and reminded me somewhat of Woody Allen (but not the face).
The most significant thing in his office was the presence of paintings of tigers on the walls (remember the Mao ze Dong remark that the US is a paper tiger?) and stuffed toys, or small statues of lions and other feline animals. The most noticeable object was a large porcelain leopard (about 4 ft tall) on the right hand side of his desk (therefore on my left side) of a beautiful alabaster color with black spots (remember that black spots on maps represent oil fields).
He was quite welcoming but immediately put me on notice that, “I am the one who does the talking around here,” to which I replied, “If you hire me as a consultant and you do the talking, how do you expect to decide where to explore and how to make the right decision?” His answer was, “Because I am very perceptive; just show me your maps!”
He insisted that what he wanted were all my “secret” maps of oil fields and that he would compensate me adequately for their delivery. I explained to him that consultants offer their services and expertise but do not reveal their clients’ secrets.
He cut the meeting short, telling me that I was wasting his time and I should “get the hell out of this office!” Which I did. However, before leaving, I suggested to him that he should rename his company “Leopard Oil Company.” He was curious enough to ask why. To which I replied, “Because a leopard has black spots all over the f-ing place.”
I don’t think he would have paid me anyway.
Another reader says there was more than one Mike Davis.
The Mike Davis character is not limited to Tiger Oil. During my career in the oilpatch I have seen many Mike Davises, all the way from small independents to some of the majors, and not only among executives but across the board among geologists, geophysicists, petroleum engineers, and drillers. I guess it is all part of the folklore that goes with this crazy but fascinating business of petroleum exploration.
Kind regards to all and compliments on an excellent (and much needed) publication.
I read with interest your “Lost in a Web of Intrigue” ala Tiger Mike. I thought I would add a little info to your Tiger Mike library. I first ran across Tiger Mike in the early ’70s in Bakersfield, Calif. I was working for a Bakersfield drilling contractor, and Tiger had one of our rigs under contract in the Kettleman Hills area. The well depth was below 15,000 ft (4,575 m) and had taken a kick.
Tiger had come out on his Lear jet out of Las Vegas with his briefcase full of $1 million in $100 bills and started handing bills out to the rig crews. He also liked to drop $100-bill tips for the local waitresses. Tiger would run his credit up with the local vendors, who would then cut him off. The $1 million was used to settle his accounts and get his credit line moving again. This well was eventually plugged back to kill it and redrilled, and it turned out to be a dry hole.
I agreed to work with a gentlemen who owned a bunch of used drilling equipment and proceeded to build about 10 rigs rated from 8,000 ft (2,440 m) to 15,000 ft drilling depth. Tiger then brought this company and called it Tiger Drilling.
Tiger was a truly obnoxious individual especially with his Tiger Oil employees. He did treat his drilling company people differently because we had no fear of him. He needed us more than we needed him. I guess that is what made it work. I was witness to many of his beratings of his oil company folk. His vocabulary didn’t go far beyond four-letter words. Any deal requiring negotiating that he got involved with would eventually fail due to his personal touch.
I do recall that he parlayed an oil discovery in the late 1960s in North Dakota to bankroll his operations for some time. He was truly a wildcatter. He would sell his mother’s shoes if meant a source of cash to drill the next well. I lost track of him when he went to Houston. Do you know if he is still alive?
I do not know the answer to this question. Can anyone help?
One reader thinks maybe all the tough talk was a good thing.
I enjoyed reading your article about Tiger Mike. A few years ago, a surly supervisor showed us some of the Tiger Mike memos and told us we should all be glad we did not have Tiger Mike as a supervisor. We were all young, had been in the industry a few years, and were skeptical that they were real. Supervisors could not talk to employees like that. He assured us that they were very real. Quick Internet searches revealed nothing, just like you said.
Thanks for doing the research and confirming my fear — it could be a lot worse, and supervisors did talk to employees like that! But maybe that is what some of us need.
Here is the link to the original memos: http://tinyurl.com/5of4xa
Got an axe to grind? Let me know at email@example.com.