Recollections of Lloyd N. Unsell
Lloyd N. Unsell (1923-2007), a founding member and sponsor of the American Oil & Gas Historical Society in 2003, was the long-time president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA). He received the petroleum industry’s prestigious Chief Roughneck Award in 1986, the only person not affiliated with an oil company to do so since the award began in 1955.
Beginning his career as a journalist in his native Oklahoma, Unsell would soon develop national energy policies after joining the IPAA in 1948. His leadership role in Washington, D.C., during major oil and natural gas events became a significant part of the modern U.S. petroleum industry. In December 2004, he gave AOGHS exclusive permission to publish the forward and early chapters of his then in-progress memoirs, “Recollections of Lloyd N. Unsell.”
This historical society is proud to offer the forward and first five chapters of Mr. Unsell’s fine writing (an unfinished work, alas). Fortunately, thanks to the help and encouragement from his son, Lloyd N. Unsell Jr., the senior Unsell completed another 10 chapters and participated in several video interviews). In 2018, Lloyd Jr., deputy mayor of Delmar, Maryland, preserved his father’s “Anecdotes from a White-Collar Roughneck” for publication.
When the Oil & Gas Journal noted the death of Lloyd N. Unsell on April 7, 2007, at age 84, the magazine described how he rose from “reporting for a small Oklahoma newspaper to become one of the U.S. oil and gas industry’s most influential leaders in Washington, D.C. as president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America.”
AOGHS here preserves a remarkable early career during some of the most challenging years representing domestic production. Unsell joined the IPAA in 1948 as a staff writer, later managed public and media relations, and became executive vice president in 1976 and president in 1985.
Born in Henryetta, Oklahoma, Unsell spent his early years in Seminole. After serving on overseas Army newspapers during World War II, in 1945 he became a reporter for the Seminole Daily Producer. He later worked at the Tulsa World before joining IPAA. According to his son, Unsell was retired and living in Coltons Point, Maryland, when he began writing about his five decades working on behalf of independent producers — often during the industry’s most historic legislative debates. Unsell also was the key person in overcoming congressional objections to building the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, dedicated in 1982.
For those who knew Unsell, these chapters offer a reminder of his wit and intelligence. His writing skill are a reminder of hundreds if columns from his early “Losing Circulation” and “Waitin’ on Cement” columns written for IPAA’s membership magazine, Petroleum Independent. For those who never met the man or heard him speak at industry gatherings on testifying on Capitol Hill, enjoy this introduction and his “Oil on My Boots” early exposure to the industry — and oil patch summers in Oklahoma…
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