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Former SandRidge CEO files first intent to drill with new company, Tapstone

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, May 6, 2014, at 12:50 p.m.

Tapstone Energy, the oil exploration company founded last year by former SandRidge Energy CEO Tom Ward, has filed its first intent to drill in Kansas.

The Oklahoma City company said in its April 25 filing with the Kansas Corporation Commission that it intends to drill a horizontal well in Harper County.

In February, Ward bought leases on more than 600,000 acres, all in Kansas, from Shell Oil after Shell decided the play wouldn’t be profitable enough. The acreage is largely contained in south central Kansas and makes Tapstone one of the largest leaseholders in the state.

Tapstone Energy said it has no comment on its Kansas acreage.

Ward formed Tapstone using his own capital last year after leaving SandRidge.

Ward, as founder and CEO of SandRidge, sparked the horizontal drilling boom in Kansas when he bought leases on more than 2 million acres in Oklahoma and Kansas. That boom has since largely collapsed as most large out-of-state exploration companies have pulled out and lease prices have fallen.

SandRidge, under new CEO James Bennett since June, is focusing on Sumner, Harper, Barber and Comanche counties and is now the state’s largest oil producer. It has said it plans to allow hundreds of thousands of acres of leases in southern and western Kansas expire.

Ward has started or helped start two large oil exploration companies from scratch, Chesapeake Energy and SandRidge. In the past, his practice has been to build a company, or a package of assets, and then take it public.

But going public has created problems for Ward. He was forced out as CEO of SandRidge last year after investor TPG-Axon said that Ward’s “strategic blunders, extraordinary spending and poor governance” had driven down the stock almost 80 percent from its 2007 IPO and kept it down.

Reach Dan Voorhis at 316-268-6577 or dvoorhis@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @danvoorhis.

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