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OneNexus has to contend with upstream apathy

One of the main problems Tony Sanchez III’s new company, OneNexus Environmental, has to contend with is simple apathy.

OneNexus is looking to take on asset retirement obligations for customers end-of-life oil and gas wells. But companies have been carrying the asset retirement liabilities from their wells on their balance sheets as a normal part of doing business in the space for a long time.

That meant the OneNexus team has to find a way to break past that apathy and make the upstream oil and gas sector care. And Sanchez, CEO and founder of the new company, thinks it has. The first step is making OneNexus’ offering as low-effort as possible for its customers, he said.

“Make it so easy, number one. Make it a no-brainer for them,” Sanchez said.

Number two is to point out the benefits. Carrying retirement liabilities on the balance sheet can affect credit and access to capital, just like any other liability, said Adam Flikerski, co-founder of BlackGold Capital Management LP. BlackGold is a private equity firm invested in OneNexus.

But, unlike other liabilities, there isn’t a convenient way to clean asset retirement obligations out of the portfolio until the asset is ready for retirement. This is something with which Sanchez has intimate experience after his time at his now-bankrupt upstream venture, Sanchez Energy.

That’s what Sanchez is trying to address with OneNexus. Customers would pay the company some amount lower than the eventual cost to retire the well. At that time, OneNexus would take on the asset retirement obligations.

“The oil and gas company could then tell its stakeholders that the money is set aside to meet that obligation, irrespective of whether the company goes bankrupt or not,” Sanchez said. “Management changes, the asset transfers to another company, what have you, that policy stays in effect.”

For OneNexus, the deal provides a few benefits. OneNexus is charging less than its customers would expect to spend on the plugging and abandonment of the well, but Sanchez and his team will be able to bundle many wells together and ideally achieve a greater economy of scale.

Also, OneNexus won’t have to meet those obligations for many years, until the well is ready for retirement. That means the team can invest that money and make a return, Sanchez said.

“This is basically, in a non-financial sense, a savings account that’s put aside for the plugging and abandonment of these wells,” Sanchez said.

Behind the scenes, the company is forming a captive insurance company — essentially a subsidiary insurer to cover OneNexus’ own activity — that can manage the risk through reinsurance of many potential issues, Sanchez said.

Read the article at Houston Business Journal.