The oil and gas industry is one of the most lucrative in the world, and countless people have become unmentionably wealthy by extracting, refining and selling the fuel source that keeps our civilization in motion. Despite the best efforts of green energy industries and environmentalists, things are not likely to change anytime soon; we continue to rely heavily on the ever-depleting oil and gas reserves in some form or another. In fact, almost all of the most lucrative companies in the world, in terms of revenue, are associated with the oil and gas industry. For the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2013, Shell and Exxon had revenues totaling $451 billion and $420 billion respectively. Despite its problems in recent years, British Petroleum continues to see huge profits as well. BP’s revenue was $379 billion for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2013. And it’s not just oil and gas companies in the west and Europe that are raking in obscene amounts of money thanks to bubbling crude. In China, China National Petroleum Corporation and Sinopec made $425 billion and $411 billion revenue, respectively, for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2012. Sageworks released a study that showed, as of 2013, that the most profitable type of business to start would be an oil and gas extraction company. The estimated net profit margin for an oil and gas extraction company is 24.1%.
With the world voraciously consuming fossil fuel it stands to reason that the money will keep flowing as long as the oil does. In the U.S.A. numerous men and women have followed in the steps of Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller and built massive empires of wealth thanks to the metaphorical goldmine of the oil and gas sector. Here’s a look at the wealthiest people in the oil and gas sector in the United States today.
10. William Herbert Hunt $4 billion
W. Herbert Hunt is proof of how resilient people can be when it comes to finances. He and his brother, Nelson Bunker Hunt, purchased 195 million ounces of silver in the 1970s. The brothers’ assets reached a staggering $10 billion when silver was at its highest, but things came crashing down. The price of silver plummeted in 1980 in an event dubbed “Silver Thursday.” After cornering the market through their silver speculation, the brothers seemed untouchable, but they ended up losing billions and filing for bankruptcy. Hunt regained some of his fortune by selling 43% of the North Dakota petroleum assets that were held in his limited liability company, Petro-Hunt. His net worth now sits at about $4 billion.
9. Jeffrey Hildebrand $5.1 billion
As the founder of Hilcorp Energy Company, Hildebrand has more than doubled his net worth in the last five years. Hilcorp is one of the largest privately owned oil companies in the world. After leaving a job at Exxonmobil as a petroleum engineer, Hildebrand teamed up with partners to buy up oil rich land that wouldn’t produce enough for the world’s biggest oil producers. Today his net worth stands at $5.1 billion.
8. Ray Lee Hunt $5.3 billion
When Hunt inherited his father’s company, Hunt Oil Co, following his father’s death, the family’s net worth was approximately $200 million. Today, Hunt has a massive net worth of $5.3 billion. After a huge oil find in Yemen in 1984, Hunt Oil partnered with other companies to extract and refine the oil. This and other oil deals in the Middle East has made Hunt a much richer man. Today he is worth an estimated $5.3 million.
7. Milane Frantz $5.5 billion
Frantz has an astounding net worth thanks to inheriting pipeline company Enterprise Products from her father. She inherited $3.1 billion when her father died, but today she is worth an estimated $5.5 billion. Enterprise Products’ assets include nearly 100,000 miles of pipeline around the world.
6. Elaine Tettemer Marshall $8.2 billion
Marshall has stated that her net worth has been inflated by the media, but estimates show she is worth approximately $8.2 billion. She is the fourth richest woman in the United States and is currently one of nine members on the board of Koch Industries. She gained her fortune after her late husband left her significant holdings in Koch Industries.
5. George Kaiser $9.8 billion
When Kaiser took over Kaiser-Francis Oil following his father’s heart attack, the company was just a relatively small drilling and oil prospecting company. By 2010, Kaiser had grown the company into the 23rd largest non-public energy exploration Company in the U.S. He is one of the 100 richest people in the United States and has an estimated net worth of $9.8 billion.
4. Philip Anschutz $9.9 billion
Anschutz bought out his father’s drilling company, Circle A Drilling, in 1961. Since then he has earned billions from more than just oil and gas exploration: He has heavily invested in sports such as MLS, co-founding the league and numerous MLS teams. He also has a stake in the Los Angeles Kings and L.A. Lakers. He’s even backed Hollywood films like The Chronicles of Narnia. Anschutz is the 38th richest person in the U.S. with a mind boggling net worth just shy of $10 billion.
3. Harold Hamm $14.1 billion
Hamm currently holds the title of the 30th richest person in the U.S. and the 76th richest person in the world. He earned his wealth through oil extraction in the Bakken Oil Field in Montana and North Dakota. He has been CEO of Continental Resources since 1967, but before building the billion-dollar company he was just a humble gas jockey. Today he’s worth $14.1 billion.
2. David Koch $41.5 billion
The Koch brothers leave everyone else on this list in the dust when it comes to net worth. David Koch, and his brother, Charles Koch are worth $41.5 billion each. Koch Industries had revenue of $115 billion in 2013 and it’s the second largest privately owned company in the U.S. David Koch currently serves as the company’s Executive Vice President and co-owner. He’s the fourth richest person in the U.S. and the wealthiest New York City resident.
1. Charles Koch $41.5 billion
There are four Koch brothers, but following lengthy court battles over Koch Industries only David Koch and Charles Koch are involved in the company that was started by their father. Charles Koch serves as the CEO of Koch Industries and, like his brother David, owns 42% of the conglomerate. Like his brother, he’s worth an estimated $41.5 billion. The brothers were included in TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people, in 2011, due in part to their generous donations to Republican politics.