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We were pleased to see some new faces at our Denver ARCO Alumni networking event. This included Jason Billings, Whiting Oil and Gas; Tom Gardner and Tommy Nations. Tommy is an artificial lift consultant, and at 70, shows that our ARCO alums are still actively supporting the industry. Larry Parnell relocated to Denver and is COO for Beacon E&P, and Greg and Suzanne Ernster are also living in Denver now and joined the group straight from a Rockies winning game.

Liberty Resources had a full contingent of ARCO Alumni in attendance including Mark and Maria Pearson, Gordon Pospisil, Stacy Strickland and Larry Griffin. 

It was 20 years ago that the acquisition was announced. 

ARCO talent is powering a number of small operators in Denver. Cynthia and Steve Enger, Edge Energy; Bill O'Brien with Nitec; Tom Tracey, BTA Oil Producers and Jay Stratton, Ultra Petroleum. Herb Vogel and Watty Strickland are both still with SM Energy. Scott Wilson is at Ryder Scott and Chris Garlasco continues consulting for PRA, enjoying her ability to work remotely and travel to Anchorage occassionally. Our retirees in attendance included Ben Ball, Ann Hippe, Joseph and Mary Beth Falcone, Becky Watson and Clyde Borden.

In addition to adding our talents to the industry, Herb Vogel is on the Engineering Advisory Council for CU Boulder and Bill O'Brien spends three hours a week teaching money management and life skills classes at the Samaritan House Homeless Shelter.  Gordon Pospisil is joining Bill in this volunteer activity that directly helps the most vulnerable people in Denver.

Each summer, the Liberty Resources team travel to Tioga, North Dakota for a Community Appreciation BBQ and public tours of their facilities/operations. Larry Griffin, Mike Ellis, Gordon Pospisil, Mark Pearson and Stacy Strickland all worked in the Kuparuk Business Unit together in the early-90’s. The younger generation was also represented by Mark and Maria Pearson's daughter and son. Talking about children, both Tom Tracey and Herb Vogel have sons working at Chevron. Carol Baker's daughter works at Entero. Stacy and Watty Strickland's daughter is working at Ballard Petroleum.


IMG 0347Following the 7.0 earthquake in Anchorage November 30, and the 1,800  aftershocks in the following days, our members in Anchorage, Homer and Valdez shared their experiences. 

With 166 members living in Alaska, 142 in Anchorage and the others everywhere from Eagle River and Wasilla to Homer and Juneau, here are some of the stories.

Robin Child perhaps captured best what so many of you shared when she emailed: “The best thing was hearing from family, friends and neighbors. Everyone checking to make sure all was okay and offers of help. Even the Costco pharmacy gal asked how we had fared; it’s a bond of a community. Strangers finding a commonality and helping each other by being a bit more friendly. We are at our best when we all give a little, even if it’s just a smile and a shared story,” said Robin.

"My panic," said Kathleen Gray, "is that I was here in the 1964 earthquake (age 11) so my flashback meter is over the top. The continuing aftershocks just keep me on edge, but 'I will survive'," she said.

My panic is that I was here in the 1964 earthquake so my flashback meter is over the top

Kathleen Gray

"Broken trinkets are sad," emailed Delia Brown, "but to not have any loss of life is nothing short of a miracle." The best invention says Delia is "the flashlight on our cell phones and cell chargers!"

To not have any loss of life is nothing short of a miracle

Delia Brown

In addition to comments about the community coming together and gratefulness there was no loss of life, there has been a lot of humor. Whether talking about ‘drinks being served’ or ‘rockin and rollin’, the quake was met with equanimity.

“I was driving, so it wasn’t super exciting,” shared Susan Jakonis. “My car shook like crazy & I pulled over. The aftershocks were horrible for the first few days. I wonder how many people outside of Alaska know it was pitch dark when it happened and for over an hour?”

As of December 9 the city was still having aftershocks. Scott Digert said they had 5 Sunday morning, December 9, and poor Rosie their Retriever has been a bit traumatized. Tina and Gerry Suellentrop and Scott and Barbara Digert commented on how sound structural construction meant good news for many. 

IMG 1383“After a total of almost 24 years in Alaska and 4 years in LA, this was certainly the biggest quake we’ve been in,” said Scott. “At BP we had a lot of equipment knocked over, ceiling tiles and lights down, and some minor structural damage with wall cracks and broken pipes, but the building stayed well within design specs. We got everyone evacuated ok and then closed the building for the past week to allow the crews to do repairs without people underfoot, and also to let parents work from home while their kids were out with all the schools also closed. Most of us go back to school and work on Monday, and people will have lots of stories to tell! Our home came through just fine; we had books knocked off shelves and plants toppled over, but remarkably little breakage. All of the Anchorage building codes and inspections that made our builder swear when we built the house in 2000 worked as needed, and we feel very fortunate.”

Scott also said there was a lot of infrastructure damage in the Anchorage bowl. “Road crews swung straight into action and had temporary paved repairs in place within 72 hours, which is particularly remarkable given that all the asphalt plants had been shut down for the winter, and they’ve never laid asphalt this late in the year,” he said. “If we’re going to be in a big quake there’s no community better prepared for it than Anchorage,” believes Scott. 

If we're going to be in a big quake there's no community better prepared for it than Anchorage

Scott Digert

Adriana Contreras seconded Delia Brown, saying “everyone alive and well and very happy. More importantly than broken knick knacks -- THANK YOU for simply checking in,” she said.

Micky Becker shares that she climbed under the kitchen counter and rode it out. She said it was terrifying, and seemed to last forever. Micky also mentioned that strict earthquake building codes saved Anchorage and prevented loss of life.

Robin Childs said she thought they had faired extremely well until she investigated the top floor. “It was shocking at first but a few days later, with the help of my children, we had everything back in order. My children helped to put all of our bathroom and dresser mirrors up with new stronger anchors. We also added a top hold on tall dressers. It was a good reminder along with an opportunity to clean out old clothes from the back of the drawers,” she concluded.

IMG 1376Rob Endebrok returned from Thailand to find minor things knocked off the shelves and a couple doors needing adjusting.

Denis Allen lives in Valdez and said when the earthquake first started it was swaying which intensified gradually. Bottles and glasses started moving, the weights in a wall clock started banging the glass sides of the clock case.

Jack and Cindy Walker reported there were no gas leaks, no water leaks, no power loss, no broken windows, and no apparent structural damage in Stuckagain - they felt pretty lucky. In addition to broken items and minor cracks in dry wall, the well water had a brownish tint, but cleared up after a day or two. They also said there was no road damage in their area. Best of all? “Less than one full dump run!”

Chip Landmesser says "we were rockin' and rollin' pretty good down here in Homer too. We are all doing fine and no significant property damage." Chip said his family living in Eagle River faces cleanup and repairs in the weeks ahead, but what is important is everyone is ok. 

We were rockin and rollin pretty good down here in Homer too

Chip Landmesser

Dave Marquez moved from Anchorage to Juneau a couple of years ago, and has a daughter and her family and many friends in Anchorage. He also felt blessed there were no fatalities with an earthquake of this magnitude.

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john dabbar2

When ConocoPhillips exited the deepwater business in the summer of 2015, John Dabbar pivoted to a new vector in his career and assumed the function of US government affairs in Washington DC where he is an advocate for safe, clean, reliable, and affordable American energy - filling a position previously held by retiring ARCO Alum Jim Ford. “My job consists of meeting with government officials – appointed, elected, and career – at the federal, state, and local level”, said John. “It is unlike any other job I’ve ever had, because it requires lots of emotional intelligence and a balance of left-brain and right-brain thinking.”  

My job consists of meeting with government officials. It is unlike any other job I've ever had.

John’s career began in 1992 when he joined ARCO. John worked with Captain Jerry Aspland, Jim Morgan, John Sullivan, Nolan Miura, Kim Estes, and Bob Hernandez who handled all the vessel scheduling. “My first big effort there was working on the escort tugs for the Cherry Point refinery” said John. “These tugs are still in service today. After two years in Marine, Captain Aspland arranged for me to transfer to ARCO Pipeline Company, where I managed the Operations Control Center on Cherry Avenue. I learned a whole new language working with the pipeliners and a new part of the oil and gas business and I worked for Randy Lair.” ARCO Pipeline had four major operating units: ARCO Pipeline which ran the common carriers, ARCO Western which delivered ANS from the tankers to the refinery, ARCO Terminal Services for third party business, and Four Corners Pipeline which brought crude from Cherry Ave to the Farmington area. 

John recalls that it was in the coffee room at Cherry Avenue where his ARCO career took a major turn. Steve Beck, then the Controller for ARCO Transportation, told John he was working on a deal with Lukoil. “I, naively, said that sounds like an interesting project,” recalls John. In December 1996, John was offered a position in the LukARCO business unit, assigned to the Caspian Pipeline Consortium in Moscow. He worked with a number from the ARCO family including Scott Kerr, Cheryl Wiewiorowski, Bob Thweatt, Neil Fortune, Gary Boubel and Helene Harding.

It was in the coffee room where my career took a major turn. I naively said 'that sounds like an interesting project'. 

“I spent the next seven years in Moscow, working on the pipeline until it was up and running; by then BP had acquired the part of ARCO that I was working in and I continued in the same job with BP,” said John. He subsequently moved to ConocoPhillips where he continues to work closely with several ARCO alumni. After successfully exiting the Kashagan project, John moved back to his roots and managed the Marine group, including Polar Tankers, the successor to ARCO Marine where he started some 20 years earlier - where many ARCO Alumni had moved up the ranks and were now in leadership positions. Four good years: Successful safety and environmental performance by the Polar team, several safe but dry deepwater wells, lots of LNG shipping, and a step change improvement in offshore vessel management.

John invites any ARCO Alumni visiting our nation’s capital please give him a shout as he would enjoy meeting up.

john bridges headshot 2 sqARCO Alumnus John Bridges is the Executive Director of the Association of International Petroleum Negotiators (AIPN), a global non-profit membership association serving international oil and gas professionals. His extensive career in the oil and gas industry has encompassed leadership roles in exploration, production and operations in multiple US locations from Texas to Alaska, and international roles including explorations, negotiations and business development in SE Asia, Africa, and Europe.

John joined ARCO in 1981. He credits his time with ARCO as the building blocks that started a wonderful career in the oil and gas industry. Early on he knew he wanted his career to lead into international work, so he took the advice from a couple of ARCO colleagues and started his career in the lower 48 working in the Anaconda mining division in Denver, then the oil and gas divisions in Bakersfield and Midland. John then transitioned to Alaska, working Prudhoe Bay, Alpine and exploration in the National Petroleum Reserve and North Slope Foothills area. “Working Alaska is a great stepping stone into international because it is one of two domestic areas that operates more like international" said John. He credits the ARCO leadership of those he worked with during his early days in mining and then in oil and gas in Bakersfield and Anchorage as integral to his career. “Everyone I met and worked with at ARCO was top of class. I enjoy and value today the friendships I made during my ARCO career.”

Working Alaska was a great stepping stone into international.

In 2001, John joined Anadarko and most recently served as Manager of International Negotiations – North Africa and Europe in the UK for Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. During his time at Anadarko, he had the opportunity to work and contribute directly on three major efforts including Alaska, Algeria and Mozambique while also conducting Business Development efforts in SE Asia.

The skills John learned throughout his experience as a negotiator starting with ARCO remain a driving force behind his leadership of AIPN. “A good negotiator must embody integrity by respecting all people, cultures, and differing opinions as well as understanding that there may be more than one right answer or more than one right way to achieve a task.”

Taking advantage of AIPN benefits as a member for years, he now enjoys the opportunity to give back. “Over the years my AIPN membership was a vital part of my career growth, with its exclusive networking opportunities, high-quality education and training, and time-saving model contracts. It is very rewarding to now be in a position where I can give back.” John leads a staff of seven and works hand in hand with the AIPN Board of Directors to oversee all facets of the association, which serves more than 3,000 international oil and gas negotiators in some 115 countries.

A good negotiator must embody integrity by respecting all people, cultures, and differing opinions as well as understanding that there may be more than one right answer or more than one right way to achieve a task.

Founded in 1981, AIPN enhances the professionalism of cross-border energy negotiators throughout the world by offering continuing education and training, networking opportunities, and international oil and gas model contracts. Its membership is just as varied as the role of a petroleum negotiator, comprised of business professionals, lawyers, academics, engineers, geologists, and financial analysts, among many others.

John earned his MBA with a concentration in Finance from California State University - Bakersfield and his BBA in Petroleum Land Management from the University of Texas - Austin. John has a passion to help others and has served in various positions with the Boy Scouts of America, as a Board member for the Alaska Performing Arts Center and also as a Board Member for the Alaska Junior Theater. John is currently active with UNICEF and works on its Houston Congressional Action Team Committee. In his leisure time, John enjoys scuba diving and photography.


greg sanders 2Greg Sanders retired from his career in the oil industry in 2017. He and his wife Lisa, split their time between Anchorage and Anthem, Arizona.

Greg was with ARCO Alaska from 1986-2000, then he worked for ConocoPhillips, Pioneer and Caelus Energy before retiring to focus on golf. From all accounts, Greg made a great decision, as he is winning tournaments around the country. He is also on the Board of Directors of the Alaska Golf Association and volunteers for the United States Golf Association.

Most recently, Greg took the lead with an Eagle on the 9th Hole at the Alaska State Amateur Golf tournament on the same day as the ARCO Alumni networking event in Anchorage. Two days later, Greg earned his sixth Alaska State Amateur Golf tournament win at Anchorage Golf Course for his 7th State Amateur title.

Greg earned his sixth Alaska State Amateur Golf tournament win at Anchorage Golf Course for his 7th State Amateur title.

It’s been a good golf year for Greg, he also won the State Match Play tournament at Settlers Bay. 

In 2017, golf took Greg from Anchorage to the Pacific Northwest, and east to Atlanta. Greg took the title of low amateur in the Arizona Senior Open at Wickenburg Ranch Golf Club. Greg finished in sixth place with a 36-hole total of 141.

In September 2017, Greg fired a 4-under par 68 to take the first round lead at the 33rd Pacific Northwest Men’s Mid-Amateur Championship. Being at the top of a leaderboard is familiar territory for Greg, who earlier that summer was on the verge of making it to the final match of the PNGA Master-40 Amateur when he had to concede his semifinal match on the last hole because of a prior family commitment.

Greg and his wife Lisa will be travelling this coming year, visiting their first grandchild, playing more tournament golf as a first year senior amateur player, and spending some time away from the Alaska cold winter in the warm Arizona sun. Next year's goal may be to win the Alaska Senior Amateur and Alaska State Amateur in the same year. Good luck Greg.