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Welcome to your Unocal Legacy website!

Unocal Legacy, Inc. was formed to create this web site celebrating the Legacy of Union76/Unocal.

Big Oil versus Medium-sized Oil,
1999 versus 2014

One of the challenges of operating an oil company is maintaining or increasing production. In a resource business like oil & gas, production is the source of revenue, and keeping it up is how you maintain your income.

The enemy of sustaining a level of production is the decline curve. On the average, the ability of a hydrocarbon well to produce declines a few percentage points for every year of production.  There are ways to combat that (stimulation treatments, for example) but they are not inexpensive.

Another challenge is replacing that production with new reserves. If a company is to survive in the long run, current production needs to be replaced with new reserves which will be the source of future production.

If we look back in time to the Unocal website early in the year 2000 [link: ] we see a press release bragging that Unocal replaced 159% of its production for 1999. Checking the details, we see that 1999 production totaled 181 million barrels of oil equivalent (more natural gas than crude oil.) That’s equivalent to 496,000 barrels per day.

Zooming forward in time to early 2013, we see a press release from Chevron [  ]establishing a goal to increase production to 3.3 million barrels of oil equivalent per day by 2017. By March of 2014 [  ] they had backed off that ambitious goal a little, to only 3.1 million barrels equivalent per day, as shown in the following graphic:

So, Chevron’s 2014 goal is to increase production by 500,000 barrels equivalent per day, or as much as Unocal’s entire 1999 production, and to accomplish that in 4 or 5 years. (Even if they achieved it for one day on 31 December 2017, we’d still say they made the goal, right?)

From 2.5 million to 3.1 million in 5 years is 3.6% per year increase, in addition to overcoming the natural decline curve of the existing reservoirs. Of course, new projects such as St. Malo / Jack in the Gulf of Mexico will contribute to the total. Still it seems a very ambitious goal. Let’s wish Chevron well with it.

What was happening with Unocal 10 years ago? Well lots of things, no doubt. One big thing was deepwater exploration drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

If we use the “Wayback Machine” check the Unocal website for  July 14, 2004 -click here-, we find a press release dated July 1, announcing the successful appraisal of the St. Malo discovery, originally announced in October of 2003.

If you poke around the July 14, 2004 version of the Unocal website, you may find other things of interest, too.

In a development related to St. Malo, Chevron announced a new discovery in September of 2004, Jack, located about 25 miles away. About 3 years later, Chevron announced that they had “…sanctioned development of the Jack/St. Malo project, its first operated project located in the Lower Tertiary trend in the deepwater U.S. Gulf of Mexico.”

"Jack/St. Malo is the latest example of Chevron advancing its industry-leading queue of major capital projects," said George Kirkland, vice chairman, Chevron Corporation. "The Lower Tertiary is recognized as a huge resource with the potential for long life projects of up to 30 to 40 years and the opportunity to enhance recoveries through technology."

In March of 2014, Forbes magazine described the development: “The Jack and St Malo oilfields are situated in Walker Ridge blocks 758, 759 and 678 of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. The fields are located 40km away from each other and are being jointly developed with a floating production unit located between them. “

Forbes also said, “. The Jack/St. Malo project is being developed at a cost of over $7.5 billion. First production from the project … is expected later this year. It was around 74% complete at the end of 2013.”

So – a lot was going on 10 years ago, but deepwater offshore developments take a lot of time – and cost a lot of money.

SEE the old "Murph" commercials  - links on our "Links" page - click here!

See our article on the 1984 struggle between CEO Fred Hartley and T. Boone Pickens for the future of Unocal.

As we go forward we hope others who were part of or interested in the Unocal Era will visit and contribute to preserving the history, accomplishments and effort that made Unocal a historic California and international petroleum producing and refining corporation.

You can read or post comments by clicking the comment logo just below.



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Reader Comments (10)

Hi Mike,

What a great idea! I worked extensively with Union/Unocal in many locations - Ventura in Cat Canyon, Santa Paula production/eng office, offshore on many of the platforms and even in Indonesia when I spelled an ex-pat in my company. Consequently I have fond memories of many of the people I worked with at Unocal.

January 1, 2011 | Registered CommenterLarryG


I joined Union Oil in 1974, when many of the employees were very loyal to the company - and the company was pretty loyal to them, too. The world has changed a lot since then, but there are still a lot of people who have good feelings about their experience with Union Oil and/or Unocal.


January 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike Utt

From Neill Freeman:

The Boone Pickens case was MY case.

We were able to prove that Pickens went over the threshold in a series of trades rather than in a single block. $48 million (if I recall correctly) recovery for Unocal as disgorgement of insider trading profits. Interestingly, he acquired the “block” in a series of “as-of” trades through Jeffries & Co. who used Stevens & Co in Little Rock to allegedly assemble the block. We were in the Rose Law firm Offices at the same time Hilary couldn’t find the Whitewater Billing files. Because of sequencing codes on the actual trade slips we proved that the trades actually spanned over a full trading week, NOT the single Block trade Mesa contended. (For Mesa, their single block could have been assembled, and they usually are, from multiple sources – but it is a Block only if it happens concurrently and this clearly didn’t happen.)(Side light – we picked up a number of cases for Jeffries after that)

The lawyer that took credit for it was Darryl Snider, now at Heller Ehrman, but the real lawyer was Pat Coughlin (then of Milberg Weiss) who had brought the original Shareholder derivative suit and carried the laboring oar on the securities purchases side where we broke the case.

January 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike Utt


Great web site. As we are telling war stories about T. Boone Pickens ...

I usually played Union 76 stock with Put and Call Options in the 80's. The stock would move in the $30-$40 dollar range, so it was buy the Call option in the low $30s and buy the Put near $40. Needless to say I bought a bunch of $40 Puts, 6 months out, a few days before Pickens hostile takeover of Union 76. Within a month my $1/share Puts were worth 10 cents/share and becoming worthless..
Those of you that were around at this time vividly remember the stock holders meeting attended by Pickens that was televised to a number of offices. Needless to say, if Boone was successful then Brea Reseach was history. I had planned to buy 500 $40 put options for 15 cents/share, but figured I'd need the money if I was redeployed.
Needless to say, Pickens failed in his takeover bid, and I ended up getting $6/share for my Put options when the stock dropped back into the low $30s before the Put expiration date.
I had mixed emotions after this event, since had I bought those 500 $40 Put options, I would have made close to $300,000 and missed the next 14 years of my career with UNOCAL.

Best Regards,

Hello Mike,
Thanks for initiating this. There are many former Unocal alumni that are still connected with unique and intersting stories
You may recall our mutual effort in the investigation of an incident in Balikpapan in the 90's.
I retired subsequent to the Chevon buyout after 25 years with Unocal where I started on the Parachute Shale program in 1980 and spent the last 15 years of my career with the Corporate HES department.
I have fond memories of my career with a great company.
Best regards,

January 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Volpe

My Tribute to Milan Skripek:

Among my many memories of the many people I knew from Unocal, one person always brings a smile to my face and that person was Milan Skripek. I remember Milan Skripek very well. When I first joined Unocal, I was hoping to find some people who might be interested in playing tennis. I found out about the Unocal tennis ladder (of which I would later become the coordinator) and called up several people including Milan to set up a match. Milan was very selective in whom he would play and told me that he wouldn't play me until I had beaten Mike Hunter first. Mike was pretty high up on the ladder and Milan was using him to screen his potential opponents.

When I finally beat Mike Hunter and satisfied all the requirements he imposed for me to be able to challenge him, he still couldn't find time to play me because of the other matches he had already set up. One Saturday morning at 8 AM, I was awoken from a deep sleep by a telephone call from Milan. He was at the Fullerton Tennis Center and his 8 AM match had just canceled out on him and he wanted to know if I could make it down to the courts right away to play since he had already paid for the 1-hour court time. I rushed down to the Fullerton Tennis Center to promptly get beaten 6-1 6-0, well before the 9 AM time limit.

I didn't fare much better the second time I played him because he made me run around with his accurate placement shots and deadly overheads. Eventually, I closed the gap on him and I think I might have even beaten him once or twice - but for an old bow-legged guy, he sure was a darn good tennis player. He hated to waste time warming up - he only had a limited amount of time and energy so why waste it warming up? I'm the same way now so that's one thing I learned from Milan.

One time Steve Lipman (former president of the Unocal Science and Technology Division - formerly known as the Unocal Research Center) asked him how he did in a tennis tournament he had entered because Steve had heard Milan had gotten to the final round. Milan started out by complaining about how sick he was and how young (in their prime) the other entrants were. He then went into detail about his opponent's hard serves and powerful strokes. But then Steve knowingly interjected, "So what score did you finally win by?" To which Milan answered, "6-2 6-1... but it was a lot harder than the final score indicated."

What a guy. I would have loved to have the chance to play him again one last time. His game was perfectly suited for older tennis players. All guile and no pace. As I am now the "old" tennis player, he is the standard to which I aspire.

I hope to hear more stories about the Unocal days from others.

February 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHoai Dovan

Thanks for setting this up. I was hired by Milan Skripek at 76 Research in 1981 as a Technician. I spent 9 years there working in the Process Development group in U and V buildings (3yrs), then the Product Evaluation group in the Engine/Knock lab (3 yrs), followed by the Product Development group (Lubes 3 yrs). I was very fortunate to work with some of the most intellegent and thoughtful people in my working career. I am now on my 30th year in the industry but I will never forget the fun times that we had at S&T. How do I go about sending some photos that might be of interest?

February 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBarry Duffin

Mike -- Brilliant idea! Thanks for your efforts in setting up this site -- looking at it brought to mind some great years with Unocal in Brea and Sugar Land. I visited Orange County last year, and it was tough to keep a dry eye when I saw the flat land at Imperial and Valencia. Anyway, I plan to forward the URL for the Unocal Legacy site far and wide. All the best, Joe Curiale

March 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Curiale

Hey Mike!

Great idea. There are hundreds of ex-Unocal folks in the Houston area. I look back with pride at my 23 years with Unocal. What a shame Unocal is no longer around. It was the best - by far - of all the major oil companies around.

I will never forget Mike Utt & I standing on the deck of the West Seno TLP offshore Indonesia when we ran the first completion riser. It was touch & go for a while, but turned out great.

Glen Anthony

May 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGlen Anthony

I have a completely self-serving post comment on the Pickens takeover attempt. I ran the Exploration Department Library at the time, and it was located on the 7th floor of the Union Oil/Unocal headquarters building in downtown Los Angeles. The meetings with Mr. Pickens and his people frequently took place in the conference room right across the hall from the library. I usually stayed at work after hours to clear up paperwork, and on days when the Pickens group had been there, I always checked out the conference room for leftover goodies, usually in the form of extra cans of soda. Cheap of me, I know - and probably somewhat unethical, as the unopened cans could have been used for other meetings, but I was not terribly well-compensated. I did enjoy my work, though, and looked upon the meeting leftovers as a job perk! People I remember from my years with the company are Bill Sax and Doyle Paul, Exploration Division leadership, Kim Park (the gracious and very capable division secretary/admin. asst.), Frank Tomaszewski (head of the Drafting group), Bill Sulkoske and many geologists and geophysicists, Harold Zahner from the Legal Dept. (who originally hired me into the Litigation Support group), and my best buddies from Litigation Support - Cherie Bartlett and Cindy Govea.

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterArdis Weiss

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