E. Russell (Rusty) Braziel, a 30-year energy industry veteran, has left Bentek Energy to launch an energy industry networking and consulting business based in Houston. RBN Energy, which stands for Rusty Braziel’s Network, looks to gather people with complementary skills and needs within the industry to take advantage of advances in social networks that have been advanced by Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter and others, but with the added advantage of being a managed platform that continuously monitors the latest developments in energy markets, and uses that information to “get the right people” together. “Energy markets are big, complicated and can be daunting,” Braziel noted on RBN’s website www.rbnenergy.com. “Today these markets are going through some of the biggest changes in decades. Shale and tight sands technologies first hit the natural gas business, resulting in huge supply surpluses over the past three years. As we enter 2012, natural gas liquids and crude oil markets are experiencing the same phenomenon.” Braziel joined Bentek in 2005 as vice president of sales and marketing and was one of the company’s owners until its acquisition by Platts in January 2011. Braziel spent 20 years with Chevron Corp. predecessor company Texaco as vice president of natural gas marketing and trading and manager of natural gas liquids supply. Subsequently he was vice president of business development for Williams. Braziel also founded Altra Energy Technologies, a developer of energy transaction management software and electronic trading systems, including the Chalkboard Trading System (now IntercontinentalExchange).

Walter H. Helmerich III, chairman of Tulsa-based Helmerich & Payne Inc., the largest active provider of land drilling rigs in the United States, died last Tuesday. Helmerich joined the company that his father co-founded in 1950 and became president in 1960. He led the company as CEO for 22 years until 1989 when his son Hans was named CEO. Helmerich is survived by his wife, Peggy, his five sons and 12 grandchildren. Services were held Friday at Boston Avenue United Methodist Church in Tulsa.

Tulsa-based WPX Energy, which recently spun off from Williams as an independent exploration and production company, has elected its 10-member board of directors. William G. Lowrie, the former deputy CEO of a BP plc predecessor company, is to chair the company, which is focused on natural gas, natural gas liquids and oil reserves, particularly in the Piceance Basin, Bakken Shale and Marcellus Shale. The directors are WPX CEO Ralph A. Hill, Kimberly S. Bowers, John A. Carrig, William R. Granberry, Don J. Gunther, Robert K. Herdman, Henry E. Lentz, George A. Lorch and David F. Work. Lorch is to serve as chair of the board’s nominating and governance committee. Granberry was appointed to serve as chair of the compensation committee, while Herdman will chair the audit committee.

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