Paul G. Van Wagenen
Attorney, "Wildcatter" & Oil Company Executive

Paul G. Van Wagenen at BYH in 1963.
Paul Van Wagenen, BYH Historian in 1963

Brigham Young High School
Class of 1963

While a "Wildcat" at Brigham Young High School, Paul Van Wagenen was active in Debate, a member of the B.Y. High School Academic Bowl Team, a Youth Senate Representative, and a delegate to both Boys State and the Model United Nations.

In Band he was the Band Manager and Pep Band Director. As a writer and journalist he was Sports Editor of the Y'ld Cat student newspaper, the BYH reporter at KOVO, and a member of the Quill & Scroll writer's club. He was active in Drama, a member of the Science Club, and attended Seminary for four years.

In his senior year, Paul served as President of the Honor Society, and was also elected BYH Student Body Historian.

He graduated from Brigham Young University High School in 1963. He enrolled at BYU where he earned his BA in Political Science in 1970. He earned his JD degree from the University of Washington in 1973. He married Jeanine.

He then worked for Exxon in a variety of capacities in its Anchorage, Houston, Midland, New Orleans and New York offices.

Paul G. Van Wagenen, Houston
Paul G. Van Wagenen, Houston, 2006

Exxon made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, launching him on a career in the energy industry that led to his eventual position as chairman, president and CEO of the Pogo Producing Co. Founded in 1970 and headquartered in Houston, Texas, Pogo engaged in the exploration, development and production of oil and natural gas in the U.S. and around the world. Revenues topped $1.2 billion in 2005.

Most people in his position bring engineering or geoscience degrees to the table, says Van Wagenen, but it’s not unheard of for someone such as himself -- an attorney with an undergraduate degree in political science -- to run an oil and gas company.

As a lawyer with Exxon and later as Pogo’s general counsel, Van Wagenen soaked up a thorough knowledge of the industry. If oil didn’t flow through his veins when he started, it soon did.

“I enjoy the hunt for oil and natural gas,” says Van Wagenen. “When things are challenging, it’s fun, and when things are going well, it’s more fun yet.”

When not in his office, Van Wagenen was often looking over the shoulder of one of the company’s geophysicists, peering at computerized seismic images and “deciding where oil and gas might be hiding in those squiggly lines,” he says. “I’m a novice at it, but I enjoy rubbing elbows with people who are really good at it.”

When Van Wagenen took the helm at Pogo in October 1990, he was given a green light to chart a new course. Founded in 1970, Pogo was formed with the express purpose of acquiring licenses to drill for oil in newly opened fields in the Gulf of Mexico.

Two decades later under Van Wagenen, Pogo became an international player, acquiring licenses to operate off the coast of Thailand, where it ultimately drilled 500 wells, erected 22 platforms and extracted a trillion cubic feet of oil and natural gas.

As smart as that move was, Van Wagenen didn’t balk when the market dictated dealing away the company’s Thailand licenses. “You can’t name your cattle,” he says. “You have to be willing to sell your assets if the price is right.”

After using the $820 million it pocketed from selling its Thai assets to purchase Northrock Resources Ltd. of Canada, Pogo was looking to repeat its overseas success with newly acquired licenses to drill off the coasts of New Zealand and Vietnam.

Pogo's market capitalization was approximately $2.7 billion on December 31, 2005. Pogo's common stock was listed on The New York Stock Exchange, Inc. under the symbol "PPP".

Paul Van Wagenen was a director of the company beginning in 1988, and in 1990 was appointed Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Pogo Producing Co. Van Wagenen succeeded William C. Liedtke Jr., Pogo founder, who later died on March 1, 1991.

On November 6, 2007, Pogo Producing was acquired by Plains Exploration & Production Company (NYSE: PXP), and Paul G. Van Wagenen retired as Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Pogo Producing Company.

Stockholders of both companies approved the transaction at their respective stockholder meetings on November 6th, and the acquisition has closed. Each Pogo stockholder received cash, shares of PXP common stock, or a combination of both. Several Pogo board executives, Mr. Thomas A. Fry, III and Dr. Charles G. Groat, joined the PXP Board. Mr. James C. Flores continued as Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. PXP is headquartered in Houston, Texas. SOURCE: Plains Exploration & Production Company.

Inspired by how a much-needed scholarship helped make his dream of attending law school a reality, University of Washington School of Law alumnus Paul G. Van Wagenen '73 made a gift in 2009 establishing The Paul G. Van Wagenen Endowed Scholarship at the UW School of Law.

"One of the oldest existing endowed scholarships at the law school is named for William Wallace Wilshire," said Van Wagenen, retired chairman and CEO of Pogo Producing Company in Houston, Texas. "I received one of those scholarships, and now I can assist a new generation to get a good legal education."

Immediately after graduating, Van Wagenen joined the law department of Exxon where his experience in oil and gas exploration included contract and transactional work, joint ventures, litigation, and federal administrative law and governmental relations. He joined Pogo Producing Company five years later to head the legal department and rose to the position of chairman and CEO.

Now retired, Van Wagenen credits much of his success to "the good legal education I received at the law school."

Paul G. Van Wagenen, 65 in 2009
Paul G. Van Wagenen, 2009

"For more than 60 years, the Wilshire scholarship helped so many students," he said in November 2009. "Now I can continue in that tradition."

Van Wagenen was a member of the All-American Wildcatters and was a member of the National Petroleum Council. He served as a member of the Executive Committee of the board of directors of the Greater Houston YMCA.

He also served on the Executive Committee of the board of directors of the National Ocean Industries Association. He was also a director of the Domestic Petroleum Council and a member of the Executive Committee of the U.S. Oil & Gas Association.

Van Wagenen was an active member of the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association, the Center for Strategic and International Studies-Houston Roundtable, and the Greater Houston Partnership.

His parents: Dean E. Van Wagenen and Belle de Jong Van Wagenen [BYH Class of 1936] of Provo, Utah. He is 65 years old. @2010

Paul Van Wagenen, BYH Debate


Paul Gerrit Van Wagenen, BYH Class of 1963

Paul Gerrit Van Wagenen, oilman, attorney, missionary, soldier, student, father and grandfather, passed away peacefully on July 26, 2023, at the age of 77. Paul was born January 13, 1946 in Provo, Utah, to Dean E. and Belle deJong Van Wagenen, both now deceased.

Paul grew up in Provo and attended Brigham Young High School, graduating in the Class of 1963. He participated in a broad variety of activities as all good fellows tend to do. In his case, that included debate, drama, Utah Boys' State, Youth Senate, Model UN, sports editor of the school newspaper, bassoonist for the Utah All-State High School Band, student director of the school's pep band and local radio station reporter. He attended seminary classes for four years. In his senior year, he served as President of the Honor Society and was elected to the office of Student Body Historian.

Paul attended Brigham Young University from 1963 to 1970. He participated in various activities and was on the debate team. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, graduating cum laude in 1970. Paul took time off during those undergraduate years to serve in the U.S. Army Reserve, where he was stationed in Fort Polk, Louisiana, and El Paso, Texas. He was honorably discharged upon completion of his military commitment in 1970. Paul also took two years away from his undergraduate studies to serve a full-time religious mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan and was ultimately appointed Assistant to the Mission President.

After BYU, Paul attended the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle, on a William Wallace Wilshire Scholarship. He earned his Juris Doctor degree in 1973. In recent years, he served the law school on its Advancement Committee.

Following law school, he was admitted to the state bar associations of Washington and Texas. In 1973, he accepted the position of Counsel to Exxon Corporation. He served Exxon in Houston, Midland, New Orleans, Anchorage and New York City. While in Midland, Paul served as Adjunct Professor of Oil and Gas Law at the University of Texas, Permian Basin in Odessa, Texas.

In 1979, Paul accepted the position of Counsel at Pogo Producing Company in Houston. During the first 12 years of his 28-year career at Pogo, he served as VP, General Counsel, Senior VP and a member of the board of directors. During the final 16 years at Pogo, Paul was Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer, a career that concluded when Pogo was acquired by another oil company in November of 2007. With the acquisition of Pogo, Paul retired at age 61.

Pogo initially established a presence in the Gulf of Mexico. During Pogo's final 16 years, Paul was instrumental in growing Pogo in many onshore basins, including the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin as well as the Gulf of Thailand. Pogo was very active in business and civic matters, and Paul served on the Board of the Executive Committee of the National Petroleum Council, National Ocean Industries Association, Domestic Petroleum Council, US Oil and Gas Association, Houston Roundtable of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and several others. Paul has been a member of the All-American Wildcatters since 2001.

Paul's philanthropic causes varied, but notably included his two universities. He was extremely proud of his decade of service on the Board of Directors of the Greater Houston YMCA, including service as its chair for the 2007 year.

Paul cared greatly about Pogo, its brilliant and dignified board of directors, its long-time, supportive shareholders including State Farm Insurance, and its loyal and hard-working employees. He took pride in knowing the names of Pogo's employees, and he championed each of them to the board.

Paul was close to his large family, including his sister, Julie Aidukaitis of Provo, Utah, and two brothers, Ken Van Wagenen of Los Angeles, California, and Norman Van Wagenen of Mesquite, Nevada, all of whom survive him. Paul's six dearly loved children include Gregory Van Wagenen of Salem, Oregon, Michael (Elona) Van Wagenen of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Jennifer (Les) Hill of Keller, Texas, Laura (Bryan) Walker of Pleasant Grove, Utah, David (Lauren) Van Wagenen of Dallas, Texas and Emily Van Wagenen of Austin, Texas. He has 14 grandchildren and two great-grands. Although Paul has now passed, he remains hugely proud of them all. So sayeth Paul, and further he sayeth not.

A memorial service will be held for family and friends on September 23, 2023 in Houston. For more detailed information on the service, email
Legacy Remembers, August 7, 2023.

Brigham Young - Biographies
BYH Biographies