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Colorado Business Hall of Fame Laureates: Tom Petrie

Nora Caley //February 1, 2015//

Colorado Business Hall of Fame Laureates: Tom Petrie

Nora Caley //February 1, 2015//

The five laureates inducted into the Colorado Business Hall of Fame for 2015 represent the state’s most distinguished group of business leaders from past and present, selected for their professional contributions to the state as well as their community service.

international travel was all in a day’s work for Tom Petrie in his role as an oil and gas industry analyst. Petrie, chairman of the private investment-banking firm Petrie Partners LLC, says one trip to Moscow and Beijing in 1983, was the turning point in his career.

 In Moscow, Petrie got into a debate with a presenter from the Soviet Oil Ministry about the future of oil production in what was then the Soviet Union. The Soviet government had announced it would increase its oil production from 11 million barrels a day to 15 million by the end of the 1980s. Petrie, having researched the largest Russian oil field and the engineering issues with water that was being pumped with the oil, insisted the 15 million barrel prediction was impossible. He notes that eventually he was proven correct, as Russian oil production decreased to 6 million barrels per day.

When the oil meetings ended, Petrie and other oil producers attended a debriefing at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. The desk officer at the Embassy, while telling a story about a recently deceased Russian dissident poet, made a comment about Russia spending its resources to protect itself from any perceived threat, no matter how remote, that the country would impoverish its people, “in terms of guns and butter.” The next day, after landing in Beijing, Petrie and his colleagues learned a Soviet fighter jet had shot down Korean Airlines flight 007, killing innocent passengers.

“That was a very formative trip for me,” Petrie says. Later, when a would-be investor from Poland offered him the opportunity to return to Russia and start an oil company there, Petrie declined. “I passed on that. I stayed in Denver and started my own company.”

That company was Petrie Parkman & Co., which provided oil and gas related advice to entities ranging from the State of Alaska to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The firm merged with Merrill Lynch in 2006.

Petrie recently wrote about the Soviet trip and other events in his book, “Following Oil: Four Decades of Cycle-Testing Experiences and What They Foretell about U.S. Energy Independence.” He hopes to educate the public on critical energy issues, and has participated in Western Governors Association conferences on this topic.

Petrie is also a past president and member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Petroleum Investment Analysts, and a trustee at the Denver Art Museum. He serves on the Board of Governors of the Colorado School of Mines Foundation, and in 2005 the school awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Engineering degree.

through the years

1945 Petrie is born in Norwalk, Conn.

1967 Earns a Bachelor of Science in engineering from the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.

1970 Earns an MBA from Boston University.

1970s Becomes a partner in H.C. Wainwright, an investment bank.

1981 – 1989 Petrie becomes managing partner at The First Boston Group.

1989 He cofounds Petrie Parkman & Co.

2006 Merrill Lynch acquires Petrie Parkman & Co., and Petrie becomes vice chairman of Merrill Lynch.

2012 Launches Petrie Partners LLC.