Industry veteran still has thirst for oil business

After more than 30 years of globetrotting for two of the world's biggest petroleum companies, Mike Yeager is enjoying what he calls "the simpler life".

After more than 30 years of globetrotting for two of the world's biggest petroleum companies, Mike Yeager is enjoying what he calls "the simpler life".

Entrenched in his native Texas, the former BHP Billiton petroleum boss is still working but is no longer flying around the world to keep abreast of his empire.

"These are oilfields that are very near my home. I can drive out here in 45 minutes and be on the rigs and around the people, and yet still have dinner at home at night," he said of his new role at the helm of ASX-listed oil junior Maverick Drilling and Exploration.

Famous within BHP for working from dawn to dusk, Mr Yeager was out of the corporate fray for barely three months before resurfacing at Maverick, validating those who see him as anything but the retiring type.

"This is not just a job for me and nor has it ever been ... every day I've awakened and I can't wait to get to work," he told BusinessDay.

"I wouldn't say I won't ever get away from it but I just want to do it in a simpler way in the latter stages of my career, and Maverick has given me a chance to do that."

But even if Maverick's three oil deposits near Houston create the perfect sunset job for Mr Yeager, the charismatic 60-year-old will not be taking it easy.

Just two weeks into his tenure, Mr Yeager has sought to open the company up to the much bigger US investment market, by applying to get Maverick shares trading in the US through depository receipts.

"We are going to try to do our best to appeal to this large US shareholder base that is ... untapped for Maverick," he said. "We hope to be listed in the US around the first of December."

Maverick has an unusual structure, with an ASX listing supporting a company that is almost entirely American in every other way. That arrangement is due to Maverick's 38-year history as a drilling contractor that flirted with servicing the Australian resources market about four years ago.

The company has since taken a different path and is seeking to become an oil producer, based on the strategy that it can be more profitable using its rigs to find oil rather than leasing them out.

By avoiding the cost of rig hire, Maverick figures it can be a lower cost producer than most other oil companies, so long as it can successfully learn the oil game.

That is where Mr Yeager and his 33 years of experience will come in handy. "I'm catching Maverick 'oil and gas' in its infancy, and that's the fun part for me personally," he said.

Related Articles