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The member spotlight series features legacy OOGA members who have been a member of the Association for at least 10 years. If you would like to recommend someone to be highlighted, please contact Lyndsey Kleven at firstname.lastname@example.org
Charlotte Mason Pierce grew up in the oil and gas industry and is the third generation of her family working in the business. Her father John Mason started out in the business as a contract driller, later working himself up to being a producer and having his own wells. The first job he landed was for Henry Lightner (Charlotte’s grandfather), fellow oilman, welder and machinist. John later married Lightner’s daughter and ran a family-owned business with Henry. Additionally John had uncles that were in the business around Fairfield and Logan Ohio.
Raised in Killbuck Ohio, the area known for good Clinton wells, Charlotte’s father started in the business as a contract driller under Mason Drilling Inc. After establishing himself in the field and building up business he was able to acquire his own wells and production as Mason Producing Inc. Charlotte was brought up around other oilfield kids, many are also actively involved with the Association.
“My childhood memories are going to the rig after dinner with my dad, to run some night tower work. I would sit on the lazy bench in front of the stove and watch them for a couple hours—watching him and the other guys dress bits. I have some very strong memories of watching my dad and the men work on the cable tool rigs.”
Being female, her involvement was limited to helping her dad roll pipe and gauge tanks. Charlotte was always asking questions and learned quite a bit about the industry growing up.
Feeling rejected to entering a career in the oilfields as a female, Charlotte attended Ohio University in search of a different professional route. Charlotte took an alternate career path for nearly two decades before returning back to the industry in 1987. As her father was nearing retirement age he wanted Charlotte to take over the administrative side of the family business. Charlotte had invested in some wells giving her a stake in the business and she decided to work in the industry.
It was during this time people were starting to poke around at the Rose Run. John Mason was not optimistic for this possibility, especially after the first test hole he completed and the seismic run. Charlotte and her brother were encouraging him to keep testing this—eventually they found success, leading them to drill many more Rose Run wells. This lead to even bigger things, like the joint venture work with Columbia Natural Resources, the Oxford Oil Company and Jerry Moore Inc. among others.
Work History Overview:
Charlotte credits her father for being a good mentor about the industry. Being involved with the small family business provided a multifaceted education of how the industry works. She was able to gain the knowledge of what areas of the business need to be taken care of, in order to keep the company running well. Her experiences throughout childhood and coming back into the business gave her an over arching perspective, not just niching her in one trade.
“It has been an exciting career and a rewarding one,” described Charlotte. “My education for the industry is a unique one, which I learned and earned the hard way, attending seminar after seminar.”
Much of it has been trial and error, but the fundamentals her father laid, have helped her to be successful. This all brought more experience, and distribution became the next step, Charlotte started marketing her own gas and has successfully marketed it on the Columbia system since the early 1990s.
Initially Mason Producing started in Clinton and shifted focused to Rose Run in the late 1980s. Today they operate 120 wells, the majority are Stripper wells, 45 of which are still producing Rose Run. The longevity of their production was surprising as some are currently a decade over surpassing the predicted lifespan, which has been a nice run. In 2002 Charlotte took ownership of the company that she runs with one other employee, with the rest being contracted out.
Over the years Charlotte has seen the different industry cycles spanning her father’s career and now hers. Her father instilled great values on how to ride the cycles. One thing she stressed learning was the importance of spending money to take care of wells when the prices are good, to save yourself in situation where the prices are low. Being a small company, the cycle’s impacts can hit a little harder than they do on investor rich corporations.
Women in Oil and Gas:
Seeing her father work and getting to experience the oilfields as a child provided Charlotte a unique exposure to the industry that most females would never have. While always having an interest in the work, when she became old enough to forge her own career path Charlotte diverged from the oil and gas industry—and not necessarily by choice. She described the challenges of being a female in a male dominated industry and the evolution she has experienced over the years. During this time 1987 there was still a large stigma that the oil and gas industry was a man’s world and women were not to cross the threshold and work in this industry—and if they did, they were looked at as, “what are you thinking?”
As she has seen, when her father worked in the industry it consisted of mostly fieldwork with a minimal amount of administrative work. The central aspect of the business was the service side that was predominately a man’s role, solely for the fact of their physical stature for doing the work. Charlotte reflected on an instance of watching her father dress bits with a sledgehammer and concluded that the majority of women would never have the upper body strength do this type of work. While the opportunity to work in the industry may exist, it is not appropriate for everyone.
As the industry has progressed over the years, the administrative aspect has increased twofold and opened up more opportunities for women to get involved. Charlotte attributed this to the regulatory structure and facets of getting the product to market that did not exist 30 years ago. She sees that today there are a lot more areas where women can now be part of the team. They do not have to turn the wrench—some of them can though—but they sure can do anything else.
This has been a positive for the industry and a noticeable change, as women are becoming more prevalent attending seminars, conferences and being engaged in the industry. Charlotte gave kudos to the women that came into the industry in the last 10-15 years and withstood the perception put upon them by some. She feels that today women are starting to be justified for working in the industry and getting some respect for their efforts in the business. What has carried Charlotte through over the years has been her passion for the business and that she really enjoys her work and her involvement.
History with the OOGA:
Charlotte joined the Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA) in 1987 right as she began working in the industry. One of the first committees she sat on was the legislative committee with Tom Stewart. Charlotte spoke praises of Tom being an advocate of support and encourager of her becoming involved in the business.
John Mason and Henry Lightner and were both inducted in the OOGA Hall of Fame in 1994 and 1998 respectively for their outstanding contributions to the oil and gas industry in the state of Ohio. Her father’s involvement in the business helped her to navigate the industry and build relationships within the Association. Her father was also president of the Association during 1997-1998 and once her father resigned the presidency of OOGA, she slid into many roles he was holding and held strong there. In the early 2000s she became a Board of Trustee member and was later given the responsibility of chairing the Ohio Oil and Gas Producers Underground Protection Service (OGPUPS).
“If we didn’t have an Association I hate to think regulatory wise where we would be,” said Charlotte “That’s the whole point of banning together and has always been the point of banning together to educate and promote our industry to people that hold public office.”
Charlotte enjoys being part of the OOGA community. She also feels the educational push through the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP) has been a tremendous thing in the school and that pushing natural science is so important.
In addition to her contributions within the OOGA, Charlotte has been actively involved with other industry organizations. She was a founding board member for Gatherco in 1997 and served as secretary until 2010, remaining on the board until it was sold last year. She was also appointed by Governor George Voinovich 1998 to serve as a member of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) advising ODNR, holding consecutive appointments until 2008. Other groups she is a member of are Michael Late Benedem Chapter of the American Association of Professional Landmen and the Eastern Mineral Law Foundation.
Evolution of the Industry/ Horizontal Drilling perspective:
The greatest transformation Charlotte has seen in her time in the industry is the change in technology. Technology has evolved and is always going to evolve and change, and the amounts of gas being excavated now from just a few years ago would have been unbelievable.
She also feels the oil and gas environment she grew up in and came to know throughout her career will be entirely different going forward. Seeing the change and movement into the 21st century there is a much larger and growing population on earth to take care of, and in order to take care of them in a more efficient way we need these larger operators and shale drilling. The amount of resources we will need going forward is no longer something that’s within grasp of the smaller operators.