FARMINGTON — He's so much the ubiquitous face of San Juan Basin's oil and gas industry that it was only a surprise that he had not yet been honored before.
The Desk and Derricks Club of Farmington, now in its 62nd year, feted area industry titan Tom Dugan with its annual Distinguished Service Award at an industry appreciation banquet Thursday at the San Juan Country Club.
With more than 150 employees and around 1,000 wells in the area, Dugan's signature business, Dugan Production Corp., founded in 1959, is one of the basin's largest independent natural gas producers.
"Over the 50-plus years that Tom Dugan has owned Dugan Production Corporation, he continues to be an ardent supporter of Desk and Derrick," said Philana Thompson, former president of the group's board, at the dinner. "Not only has he generously given of his time to speak at meetings and at industry appreciation events like this, he has always supported the Farmington club as well."
Thompson read a long list of accomplishments taken directly from Dugan's biography page in his 2002 book, "Gas!," co-written with Emery Arnold. Thompson covered numerous high notes in Dugan's chronology, from his 1925 birth in an oil field lease house in Kansas to getting awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star for bravery as a tank commander for the U.S. Army during World War II. Thompson then presented Dugan with the group's annual service award.
The more than 100 guests gave Dugan a warm standing ovation as candles twinkled under miniature oil derricks on tables throughout the club room.
"I think that was a rather long description," Dugan said upon receiving his award. "But since I'm going to be 88 next month, I guess it takes a lot talking to get through that many years, but thank you very much. I'm proud to be honored. I've always been interested in Desk and Derrick."
The women-led oil and gas industry group, started in 1957, holds its annual dinner to celebrate a person who has made significant contributions to the energy industry.
The evening also squeezed in the business of nominating members to its 2014 board of directors.
Earlier in the evening, Paul Gessing spoke and showed a slide presentation that decried "Washington mismanagement" and the "Obama economy." Gessing promoted opening up federal and Bureau of Land Management lands to natural gas production, citing the financial benefits of exploiting potential resources in the state.
"There's no reason we should be on a slow-growth track in this state," he said. "Forty-one percent of New Mexico's land is federally owned, which could mean, even conservatively, a large economic boost to the state in revenues (if drilling on federal land was allowed)."
Gessing is the president of the Rio Grande Foundation, an economic policy advocacy group from Albuquerque, whose mission is "dedicated to increasing liberty" and emphasizing "individual freedom, limited government and economic opportunity," according to the group's website.
James Fenton covers Aztec and Bloomfield for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4631 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @fentondt on Twitter.