Curocom Energy’s Simon Lee and Dynamic
A successful business venture between a Lafayette-based energy company and a group of Korean investors blossoms into a friendship.
In February oil veteran Roy Melton, a partner with Lafayette-based Dynamic Exploration Partners LLC, was at NAPE Expo 2010 in Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center. Dynamic was attending the world’s largest upstream expo hoping to find investors for some of its exploration prospects. Melton and his business partners, Dub Rainbolt and David Jones, had big plans for the year, but they needed help to get them going. NAPE provides a marketplace for the buying, selling and trading of oil and gas prospects and producing properties via exhibit booths. NAPE is the premier E&P networking venue — where in two short days you can see what’s going on throughout the entire oil patch.
A few hours after the show opened, Melton and his partners met Simon Lee and Jay Chang, two Korean businessman representing Curocom Energy LLC, part of a large Korean conglomerate that also has interests in ladies’ fashion and computer software. Their homeland is in the top five of the world in the use of energy, but Korea does not have production of any sort in the oil and gas sector, making it dependent on importing all of its energy.
A few years ago, the company opened a Curocom Energy office in Houston, the heart of the oil industry. Chang heads the office as its managing director, and Lee is the president and chief operating officer of Curocom Energy.
Initially Chang and Lee thought the $300 per person entry fee to get into NAPE as an attendee (Dynamic was an exhibitor) was pretty steep, but they had a hunch it might lead to something. They decided to hire a consultant to guide them in dealing with reputable people.
“Word is everything,” Lee says in his heavy Korean accent. In Korea, he explains, business is still done with a handshake. Lee and Chang expect trust to be at the heart of all transactions, and they found a like-minded philosophy in the Dynamic trio.
“Simon Lee came to me that day, and gave me his card, and he wrote 25 percent on it,” recalls Rainbolt, explaining that the two parties had discussed what Curocom’s take would be in the prospect Dynamic was showing at NAPE. The two groups of businessmen shook hands the following week. What none of them predicted, however, was that the partnership would develop into a friendship.
It’s not uncommon to find Melton, a Korean War Veteran, talking at great length with Lee about his days in the war. Melton asks about towns and villages that he fought in, and Lee tells him what those places are like today.
“Who would have known, who would have ever guessed that we would have Korean partners in oil ventures?” asks Rainbolt. “We’ve become such great friends.”
“It’s a venture built on trust,” Chang says. “And it’s working.”
The partnership’s first well, in its “Happytown Prospect” in upper St. Martin Parish, is now in production.
The Curocom executives have visited the well site several times, watching the whole process — from spudding to the logging.
The Happytown Prospect has estimated potential reserves of 1.3 million barrels of oil and 1.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas. A second well will be needed to develop additional reserves, and Rainbolt says those initial estimates could total 2.275 mmb of oil and 9.56 bcf of natural gas.
In November, drilling commenced on another joint venture named “Garden City Field Prospect” in St. Mary Parish.
“Dynamic Exploration could be the gateway for all of Curocom’s ventures into the U.S.,” says Lee. “I’m over the $300 per person entry fee to NAPE,” he adds. “Obviously it was well worth it.”
— Additional reporting by Leslie Turk