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DIVISION of Gas and Oil

VIRGINIA DMME Gas & Oil industry awards

The Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy's (DMME), Division of Gas and Oil (DGO) in partnership with the Virginia Oil and Gas Association (VOGA) recognize outstanding achievements by members of the gas and oil industry in Virginia. The gas and oil industry operates safely, and in an environmentally conscientious manner and performs activities in a very professional manner. The awards are to recognize entities within the industry for their efforts throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. The awards will be presented during the October VOGA meeting in Abingdon, VA.

How to Enter: **UPDATE** The deadline to submit entries has been extended! Entries must now be submitted to the Division of Gas and Oil (DGO) by June 15, 2020. Click here to access the nomination form. Completed forms should be emailed to

2018 Awards

Operator of the Year
CNX Resources

You will never find complacency at CNX Resources. While it has been an operator in Virginia for more than 30 years, the company continuously evaluates its processes with a goal of always making things better. It is an ever-evolving business model and the operational culture keeps up with the pace seamlessly. Gathering and using data and successfully overcoming challenges has increased production and reduced operational costs while keeping the safety of its workers and the protection of the environment a priority. The new emphasis on data guided decisions in 2018 required CNX to undertake significant changes that proved challenging at times, but that led to these significant improvements. CNX’s willingness and ability to adapt and overcome has given it the reputation in Virginia of a prudent and astute operator. Your 2018 Operator of the year is CNX Resources.

Service Provider of the Year
Nichols Construction

In the natural gas industry it’s important to first work safely, solve problems quickly and to have access to the best technology to ensure production continues. Nichols Construction proved all of these in 2018. In one single day Nichols team solved the problem of the Buck Knob Transmission project. The transmission line was becoming less reliable due to the load placed upon it and EnerVest did not need an interruption in this very important operational area. Nichols construction decreased the load and installed another option for the area without any interruptions to the gas company. For a service provider that is multi-faceted like Nichols Construction, these uncertainties mean being ready when called upon. Their employees have the latest training and technologies for their job sites and place the highest priority on safety and health, efficiency and the environment on every site they work. For those reasons Nichols Construction is the 2018 Service Provider of the Year.

Localized Distribution Company of the Year
Columbia Gas

To say 2018 was an impressive year for Columbia Gas Virginia would be an understatement. With 275,000 customers covering 55 Virginia gas companies the company managed to be recognized by the National safety Council for being in the top one-percent for its safety culture. You’ve heard tonight about their benevolence in providing basic human needs and a successful campaign to feed the hungry. The company opened a state of the art training center in Chester where gas employees and first responders receive hands-on training. Columbia gas continues its commitment to have the best natural gas infrastructure that results in fewer leaks and reduced greenhouse emissions. In September, after a tragic explosion in Massachusetts, the Virginia team responded to help their sister company. One young man lost his life and gas services were interrupted for 10,000 customers. Experts on the Virginia team helped restore the services and were key in implementing safety enhancements. They also executed the largest natural gas restoration project in NiSource’s history by replacing 43 and a half miles of natural gas pipelines. Their excellent safety reputation, care for the communities they serve and for their willingness to step up when called makes Columbia Gas the 2018 Local Distribution Company of the Year.

Partnership in CSG Interconnection
CNX & Kinzer Woodman

In 2018, CNX Resources demonstrated its mission statement of empowering its team to embrace innovative change that would create long-term value for its shareholders and customers. The first third party gas interconnection in the Cardinal States Gathering System was completed in 2018. Thanks to a partnership between CNX Resources and Kinzer Woodman, gas is now transported and marketed via the Cardinal States Gathering Pipeline system. The companies worked together to design, install and operate a pipeline system through CNX Resources’ existing Brown Mountain Processing Facility in Buchanan County. The interconnection is a stepping stone for new business and an economic gain for the region. For those reasons CNX Resources and Kinzer Woodman are also recipients of the 2018 Partnership Award for the CSG Interconnection.

Partnership in Experiential Learning Program

As the natural gas industry continues to grow and advance technologically, it is imperative for companies to have a well-educated workforce. Educating the current natural gas workforce has been a challenge—until now. In 2018 Virginia Natural Gas invested in its employees. Through a partnership with Tidewater Community College an Associate’s Degree program was developed to add value to the experience many employees have. It also provided them knowledge necessary to move up within their companies. The Experiential Learning Program is one-of-a-kind in that it allows those working to obtain 23 college credits. An agreement was reached with Old Dominion University for interested industry employees to continue their education seamlessly and receive a Bachelor’s Degree. Classes are offered online for those that can’t make it to the classroom. And, many employees are eligible for tuition reimbursement. This program is expanding to other community colleges and because of its success—Virginia Natural Gas, Tidewater Community College and Old Dominion University are the recipients of the 2018 Partnership Award for their Experiential Learning Program.

Partnership in the Live Feed Elk Camera
SWVA Sportsmen, CNX & VADGIF

Southwest Virginia is home to a large number of avid sportsmen, as well as outdoor and wildlife enthusiasts. The interest and curiosity associated with the elk re-introduction has spawned interest from areas over the world. Over 82,000 viewers from 40 states and 40 countries tuned in to peek at an elk herd in Buchanan County thanks to a live feed camera set up in their new habitat where they were reintroduced a few years back. Southwest Virginia Sportsmen, CNX Resources and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries knew the interest in bringing these once-lost animals back would spark the interest of outdoor enthusiasts and just curious people. The Elk Cam was set up in September 2018 and views continue to increase. Those watching can also learn how of gas wells, pipelines and reclamation of coal mines benefited this habitat. For those reasons the Southwest Virginia Sportsmen, CNX Resources and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries are also receiving a 2018 Partnership Award for the Live Feed Elk Camera.

Safety Stewardship
Columbia Gas

Focus on people, not numbers and engage as many folks as possible to be extension of your pipeline safety Team. That’s how Columbia Gas approaches pipeline safety.
Less than one per one thousand. That’s the damage prevention ratio Columbia Gas ended with in 2018. The company credits their workforce of over 400 people for establishing the culture of safety. New initiatives in 2018 helped establish that culture. Colombia created a new safety program, developed partnerships with outside agencies and companies to share safety goals and turned leaders into advocates for this safety culture. Additional training, outreach and recognition of employee successes, among other initiatives, certainly contributed to an exceptional safety record. For those reasons, Columbia Gas is this year’s recipient of the Safety Stewardship Award.

Environmental Stewardship
EMI, Inc

A culture of care has been the backbone of successful business for many decades for Environmental Monitoring, Inc. (EMI). The world of groundwater and surface water monitoring is a dynamic one. Many new regulations and emphasis on gas and oil environmental monitoring have been coming online in the past couple of years. New programs were created to ensure that EMI met the industry’s needs, but also educated all involved to the best practices and best available technology. The dedicated field staff at EMI is always informed and professional, even when plans unexpectedly change or their talents are needed with only a moment’s notice. For these reasons, EMI is the 2018 recipient of the Environmental Stewardship Award.

Community Outreach
EnerVest Operating, LLC

Affordable healthcare is not always easily accessed in Dickenson County, Virginia. That’s where EnerVest Operating is located. In 2018, employees joined forces to serve those neighbors who were in need. With the help of the Health Wagon, a local non-profit, Enervest turned its Clintwood office into a doctor and optometry office. Employee’s lent a helping hand to turn the space into a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere for patients. Over 18-thousand dollars of services were provided to 150 attendees at no charge. EnerVest also answered the call for volunteers at the Remote Area Medical event in Wise which also serves those who can’t afford care. The event helps thousands and takes about as many volunteers. EnerVest employees are true community servants. When not helping at health events you’ll find them picking up trash, volunteering at local schools and churches and much more. That’s why EnerVest is also receiving the 2018 Community Outreach Award.

Community Outreach
Columbia Gas

A creative social media hashtag and charitable mission of providing essential human needs led to 240-thousand meals provided to those hungry in Virginia. Columbia Gas started a social media campaign in 2018 offering to match dollars for shares of their posts that not only bore the hashtag “Share to Care” but also educated followers about hunger in Virginia. Six Virginia foodbanks received a total of 10-thousand dollars. Columbia’s President and C-O-O Brent Archer also serves at the Chesterfield Foodbank where he fills the role of Board Chairman. But, Columbia Gas didn’t just provide food to the hungry, they donated 350-thousand dollars to more than 100 organizations across the Commonwealth in 2018. In addition to the food pantries, their benevolence and employees served programs involving public safety, community development, education and the environment. Because of their efforts and commitment to continue to positively impact the communities it serves—Columbia Gas is the recipient of this year’s Community Outreach Award.

Safety Outreach
Virginia Natural Gas

Virginia Natural Gas operates under its core value. SAFETY FIRST, and keeps it at the center of all of its operations. SAFETY FIRST means that the safety of Virginia Natural Gas employees and customer is paramount.
A commitment to safety and an aggressive year of public outreach led to Virginia Natural Gas’s lowest damage ratio in history. The company created numerous programs and successfully marketed their Safety First core value to, not only employees, but customers, first responders and entire communities. VNG made their primary focus on pipeline safety- even making significant improvements to its own pipeline infrastructure-- and safe digging. In fact, they started a student education program about the importance of call before you dig that now reaches 10,000 students. VNG spread their messages on television and radio, in movie theatres, on social media and on foot to ensure its success. And, it’s that success that’s earned Virginia Natural Gas the 2018 Safety Outreach Award.

Distinguished Workmanship
Johnny Combs

There are people in the gas industry that dedicate their careers to see improvements and to provide support to the communities in which it operates. Johnny Combs is one of those people. He began his career 38 years ago and drilled some of the first and only oil wells in Virginia. He was part of the drilling of the first conventional well in the Commonwealth and worked as a pipeline inspector for CNX Resources until his retirement this year. He has served as a Chief pipeline inspector for CNX Resources’ pipelines installations since 1998. Because of his experience and dedication, Johnny Combs is the 2018 recipient of the Distinguished Workmanship award.

Excellence in Operational Leadership
Darrell Elswick

He was on site when some of the first coal mine methane was produced in Virginia and when the sixth coal bed methane well was drilled for CNX. With 49 years of experience, Darrell Elswick has been a key player in the success of the natural gas industry in southwest Virginia. Today, Darrell is a Field Manager for Delrick Construction Company and has worked the last 33 years without a lost time accident. He has an endless list of certifications that qualify him for almost any job associated with the production of natural gas. He’s been an asset in helping citizens that may have questions or complaints and has a high regard for workplace safety and the environment. Darrell has managed up to 250 people and defines a good leader. For those reasons Darrell Elswick is the 2018 recipient of the Excellence in Operational Leadership award.

Excellence in Operational Leadership
Darell Boyd

Darell Boyd worked his way through a variety of jobs to a leadership role at Noah Horn Well Drilling where he’s spent the last 30 years of his career. He now serves as Vice President of Field Operations. His focus is on safety and his reputation has resulted in several injury-free days for the employees of Noah Horn. Darell is involved in choosing those that will join the Noah Horn team and takes great care in offering the positions to the best. He has numerous specialized trainings that make him the expert for many of his co-workers and others in the industry. When he’s not promoting safety and finding quality employees—Darell is overseeing all the details associated with the drilling process and always striving to make it better. For his efforts and for being an example to those in the industry—Darell Boyd is also a recipient of the 2018 Excellence in Operational Leadership Award.

Environmental Excellence
Chris Moore

His regard for the environment is evident every day that Chris Moore reports to work. With 25 years of experience, Chris has quite the resume in the natural gas industry and shares his knowledge with the employees he supervises. Before spending his days in the gas fields, Chris served his country. He did a tour of duty in Desert Storm in Iraq. As a Senior Construction Foreman at Enervest, his focal point is developing safe and environmentally sound well sites as well as, eliminating drilling pits. Chris ensures citizen safety and environmental protection while those pits are open. He has a reputation of being persistent in following up on issues to assure problems are resolved. He is passionate and enthusiastic about his work and that’s why Chris Moore is the 2018 recipient of the Environmental Excellence Award.

Individual Community Outreach
Oley Dameron

Sometimes what you do after work, is just as notable as what you do on the clock. Oley Dameron has 46 years of experience in the gas and natural coal industry. For 27 years he traded his hard-hat for a Royal Rangers hat at his local church. He served as a role-model for boys in Kindergarten through 12th grade. It is a church ministry designed to empower the next generation of Christian men to be excellent leaders—while having a little fun. Today Oley works at SERI Incorporated as lead electrician. He also responds to emergency calls on behalf of CNX. And, he still makes time for his wife of 47 years, three daughters and eight grandchildren. Because of his work off the job, Oley is receiving the 2018 Individual Community Outreach award.

Excellence in Leadership
Nimmie Hickman

She serves as a voice, an activist and a true leader in the natural gas industry. Nimmie Hickman has 26 years of industry experience and spent the last decade working in energy acquisition at the Washington Gas Light Company. Although she has now retired from Washington Gas, during her career there, her daily responsibilities were many; she oversaw important tasks like having a secure supply and managing system interruptions. And, Nimmie’s passion continues after the work-day. She serves as chair of the Washington Gas Directors Council, is a board member for the American Association of Blacks in Energy and sits on the Virginia Oil and Gas Association’s Board of Directors. Her work with government organizations, the media, suppliers and on policies and processes has made a dramatic improvement to Virginia’s natural gas industry. That is why Nimmie Hickman is the winner of the 2018 Excellence in Leadership award.

Traci Warner

When the lights go off here at the Martha Washington banquet hall tonight—Traci Warner will start planning the 2020 event for the Virginia Gas and Oil Association. Her commitment to VOGA over the last decade has been a great part to the Association’s success. Traci’s dedication allows all of us to enjoy our events without ever knowing the efforts underway behind the scenes. She coordinates 80 VOGA member groups and ensures they’re all properly registered, fed, have hotel rooms and tee times among many other details. She also works for sponsorships and helps to market the association’s efforts and events to all interested parties. In addition to her dedication to VOGA—Traci also has a job. She is an employee at Enervest Operating, LLC. Because she is able to gracefully manage this balancing act and create true experiences for those of us in the Virginia Oil and Gas Association—Traci is the recipient of the 2018 VOGA Leadership Award.

Excellence in Community Outreach and Education
Sally Ketron

When an opportunity arises at the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy to talk about the agency’s efforts with the natural gas industry—you will find Sally Ketron there. It’s not only because of her willingness to volunteer or her passion for education but because of her talent in explaining a very technical industry so even sixth graders can understand. In 2018, Sally stepped up as the agency’s coordinator of the 7th Annual Energy Expo held at Ridgeview Middle School and was instrumental in the success of the event. She keeps up with Virginia Standards of Learning so she can share information that is current with what’s happening in the classroom. When Sally isn’t educating—she serves as Permit Specialist for the Gas and Oil Division at DMME. Her work there has led her to help design and implement the water monitoring data required in Virginia. She is also crucial to the organization and implementation of these very awards we’re presenting tonight. That’s why Sally Ketron is most deserving of the 2018 Excellence in Community Outreach and Education award.