Meet 10 Self-Made Oil & Gas Billionaires

Petroleum is also known as black gold. So it is no surprise that a number of the world's wealthiest people can trace their roots to the oil and gas industry.

Though some of these folks inherited their wealth and have invested wisely, it is the self-made billionaires that we're interested in highlighting.

Their paths to riches are varied but the results are the same for these ten pioneers -- billions:


10 Self-Made Oil & Gas Billionaires: Eike Batista
Citizenship: Brazil
Age: 53
Education: Studied engineering at Aachen University, but dropped out.
Family: Divorced from former Playboy cover girl; 2 children

How he made his fortune: Batista has founded companies in different business sectors, mainly in mining. He made a significant amount of his money by founding OGX oil and gas exploration company in 2007. In addition, his new IPO for shipping business (OSX) is the world's largest IPO this year and is said to have contributed as much as $5.6 billion to his fortune. Batista is the 8th richest person in the world.


10 Self-Made Oil & Gas Billionaires: Mikhail Fridman
Citizenship: Russia
Age: 46
Family: Divorced; 2 children

How he made his fortune: Fridman founded Alfa Group in the early 1990s with partner Peter Aven. The Alfa Group grew into a diverse oil, retail, telecom, and banking conglomerate. In 2003 he sold half his oil company, TNK, to BP for $6.15 billion, which freed him to focus on his telecom business and his political career. In 2005, he became a Russian representative on the International Advisory Board of the Council on Foreign Relations. He's also a member of the Public Chamber of Russia. Fridman is currently the 3rd richest man in Russia and the 45th richest man in the world.


10 Self-Made Oil & Gas Billionaires: Vagit Alekperov
Citizenship: Russia
Age: 60
Education: Azerbaijan Oil and Chemistry Institute
Family: Married; 1 child

How he made his fortune: Alekperov got his start as an offshore rig worker. In 1990, Alekperov was appointed deputy minister of the Oil and Gas Industry of the Soviet Union. He was the youngest deputy energy minister in Soviet history. In 1991 he launched Lukoil with three ministry-controlled oil fields. Today he is the president of Lukoil and owns a 20% stake in the company. Lukoil is Russia's largest independent energy company and the world's second largest reserve holder after ExxonMobil. Alekperov is the sixth richest person in Russia and the 58th richest person in the world.


10 Self-Made Oil & Gas Billionaires: George Kaiser
Citizenship: United States
Age: 68
Education: Harvard MBA
Family: Married; 3 children

How he made his fortune: Kaiser's parents developed an oil and gas operation in Oklahoma, Kaiser-Francis Oil Co. in 1940s, which he took over in 1969. Today it is among the world's biggest private energy producers. He bought the Bank of Oklahoma from the FDIC in 1990. Kaiser is one of the top 50 richest people in the world and among the top 50 American philanthropists.


10 Self-Made Oil & Gas Billionaires: Harold G. Hamm
Citizenship: United States
Age: 64
Family: Youngest of 13 children
Passion: Finding cure for diabetes

How he made his fortune: Hamm started in the oil industry pumping gas. In 1965 he bought a truck, and in 1966 he founded Harold Hamm Tank Truck Service. He quickly became one of Oklahoma's most successful oilfield fluid transporters. Hamm founded Continental Resources in 1967 and took Hiland Partners and Hiland Holdings, gas-processing firms, private in 2009. Hamm owns more oil and gas than any other American.


10 Self-Made Oil & Gas Billionaires: Trevor Rees-Jones
Citizenship: United States
Age: 59
Education: Dartmouth (undergrad) and Southern Methodist University (Law)
Family: Married; 2 children

How he made his fortune: Rees-Jones worked as a bankruptcy attorney out of college and practiced oil and gas reorganization law, which inspired him to pursue oil and gas investments. He formed Chief Oil and Gas in 1994 and made a number of good investments and sales over the last 16 years, primarily in shale.


10 Self-Made Oil & Gas Billionaires: Tim Headington
Citizenship: United States
Age: 60
Education: BA/BS University
of Oklahoma
Family: Single

How he made his fortune: Headington took over his father's oil and gas business in 1977 and 30 years later sold acreage in the Bakken Shale oil play to XTO Energy for $1.8 billion in 2008. Though he's taken that money and reinvested in moviemaking, Headington Oil still produces 15,000 b/d.


10 Self-Made Oil & Gas Billionaires: Jeffrey Hildebrand
Citizenship: United States
Age: 51
Education: BA/BS University
of Texas
Family: Married; 3 children

How he made his fortune: Hildebrand is a former Exxon geologist who founded Hilcorp in 1989 with partner Thomas Hook who he bought out in 2003 for $500 million. In 2010 he sold a 40% stake in his Hilcorp Energy's acreage in South Texas' Eagle Ford for $400 million to Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts.


10 Self-Made Oil & Gas Billionaires: Kenneth
Citizenship: United States
Age: 88
Education: University of Kansas, engineering
Family: Widower; 3 children

How he made his fortune: As a former wildcatter, Adams established his own wildcatting firm, ADA Oil Company in 1947, which became Adams Resources & Energy. Adams success as an oilman allowed him to finance his passion for football. He helped Lamar Hunt establish the American Football League in 1959 and bought the Houston Oilers for $25 k in 1960. He later moved the team to Tennessee and renamed it the Titans, which he still owns. Adams is the former owner of the Nashville Kats arena football team, and the Houston Mavericks. Adams is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.


10 Self-Made Oil & Gas Billionaires: T. Boone Pickens
Citizenship: United States
Age: 82
Education: Oklahoma A&M (State University)
Family: Married 4 times;
4 children with first wife

How he made his fortune: After graduating in 1951, he worked for Phillips Petroleum for three years. He left Phillips and worked as a wildcatter before founding Mesa Petroleum in 1956. By 1981, Mesa had grown into one of the largest independent oil companies in the world. Through a number of acquisitions and takeovers, Pickens grew his self-wealth. He left Mesa in 1996. In 1997, Pickens founded BP (Boone Pickens) Capital Management, in which he holds a 46% interest. The company runs two hedge funds Capital Commodity and Capital Equity, which invest in oil, natural gas and nuclear power companies.

Who did we miss?
Tell us in the comments below or just let us what you think of these pioneers.


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Generated by readers, the comments included herein do not reflect the views and opinions of Rigzone. All comments are subject to editorial review. Off-topic, inappropriate or insulting comments will be removed.
Hugh | Jan. 12, 2011
What about Terry Pegula, Penn State engineer/entrepreneur, who bought declining Appalachian Basin oil and gas assets, built it up, and sold part of it to Shell for $4+Bil in 2010?

Monty Montgomery | Jan. 10, 2011
What about Rod Lewis in San Antonio? He owns Lewis Energy and might be worth 2.5B.

SalesTaxFree | Jan. 5, 2011
You missed a couple of Calgarians--Clay Riddell--a variety of spin offs from Paramount Resources and Murray Edwards--co-founder of a number of energy companies including Canadian Natural Resources and Ensign Drilling

Thabo Buthelezi | Jan. 4, 2011
I just love the oil game!!....The pie is so huge and can be cut in so many pieces...I agree with all the guys below that the billionaires list is longer than this.....

Aaron Nelsen | Jan. 3, 2011
What about Patrick F. Taylor ?

Manoj Bhargava | Jan. 3, 2011
I am surprised NOT TO SEE Mr. Dhirubhai Ambani name in this list.. Founder of Reliance Industries Ltd.. Now the group chairman is Mr.Mukesh D. Ambani and his name should also be there. Hope to see this correction in coming article.

mike krowski | Jan. 2, 2011
George Mitchell Mitchell Energy and Development.

J.D. Smith | Jan. 2, 2011
I really like Harold Hamms story and might I add Tracy Krohn to the list.

babu joseph joseph | Jan. 2, 2011
You had Missed some people from Middle East, like prince Walid, Dubai Ruler, one of the Halliburton investor,etc..

PK | Jan. 1, 2011
Inspiring to see people who worked hard to make an impact for all of us. You missed Mitchel Energy who pioneered the shale gas potential for US and Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries which is the only company in the world which got its start into oil and gas by investing in deepwater plays and hit a jackpot!

ripu daman srivastava | Jan. 1, 2011
we cant miss the ambani brothers here... they must have been here... and one day i too want to see my name here... ripu daman srivastava.. at least i would be able to make my country an energy independent nation... amen

Shaji | Dec. 31, 2010
Its unfortunate not mentioning the name of Reliance Industries. Ambani is one of the richest in India. His entry to the Oil and Gas industry is one of the biggest in a short span of time.

Mark Meeler | Dec. 31, 2010
What about George Mitchell founder of Mitchell Energy and Developer of The Woodlands, Texas?

Rob L | Dec. 31, 2010
Great to see hard work pay off and dreams come true. Keep dreaming and working people there is always opportunity. Don't be scared to take that chance.

ezekiel ebase | Dec. 31, 2010
this is great i love to read this page, it has encouraged me to think positively & greatly as an engineer. can you help me with two or more strategies on how they made such fortune?

John Scott | Dec. 31, 2010
It would be very useful to investors and the public if the health, safety and environmental record of the billionaires was also provided.

Siphiwe Cindi | Dec. 31, 2010
I am so inspired by these folks who have worked so hard to be where they are today. I must say I also have so much passion in the Gas/Oil field and would love to experience working in this field as a Medic, who knows my name maybe on such list in future. Warm regards

bm popescu | Dec. 31, 2010
Forgot Dinu Patriciu that sold Rompetrol to Kaz Munai Oil two years ago for 2.3 billion euro. He is Romanian

Raghava Tharimela | Dec. 31, 2010
How about the Mukesh Ambani from Reliance industries he is worth almost $29B

pascal theveneau | Dec. 30, 2010
You should check the story of Arifin Panigoro in Indonesia. He started as an electrician then founded Medco Energy oil company.

Jonathan Maxey | Dec. 30, 2010
Bud Adams and T. Boone Pickens bootstraped and exemplify true American spirit. Inherited wealth is fine and to build upon it does take courage and skill,but give me "I had nothing and made it into something" any day as a testament.

Sheri Coutts | Dec. 30, 2010
Loved your article and found it so interesting! I'm from Casper, WY, though, so was a little disappointed that I didn't see mention of True Oil (Dave True) or Mick McMurray who founded the Jonah Field at Pinedale, WY. Both families are very generous to their communities and have great background stories.


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