Kelcy Warren Celebrates His Hart Energy Hall of Fame Induction by Reflecting on His Career

Towards the end of 2023, Energy Transfer cofounder, Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board Kelcy Warren was inducted to the inaugural class of the Hart Energy Hall of Fame, an honor awarded to groundbreaking energy sector pioneers, and leaders who, over the past 50 years, have helped change the way the world was, is and will be powered.  In announcing his induction, the Hart Energy team revealed that Warren’s recognition celebrated his ability to build “a pipeline empire in less than three decades that he is still growing ever larger with each new deal.” And, in sitting down to reflect on the induction, Warren himself said, “It’s a big honor… I look at the other people that are going into this with you guys, and I’m saying, wow, I’m even included in that group. It’s pretty amazing.”

In Good Company

Despite Warren’s humility, he stands among other inductees as an industry leader, and as a gamechanger in the world of pipelining. His career began with stints at Lone Star Gas Co and, later, at Endevco. But the real story of Warren’s impact begins in 1996, when he co-founded Energy Transfer with two partners and about 200 miles of natural gas pipelines, clustered in east Texas.

From its founding onward, Warren has worked tirelessly to expand Energy Transfer’s footprint, adding more than 120,000 miles of pipeline to the company’s network, along with vast storage and processing capabilities for natural gas, natural gas liquids, refined products and crude oil. While Warren humbly credits some of Energy Transfer’s explosive growth to “pure luck,” it was also smart decisions and industry insight that helped him oversee game-changing acquisitions, turning his company into an industry leader, as well as one of the largest public companies in Dallas, TX.

Among the many transformative decisions overseen by Warren, he sites two specific events—capitalizing on the collapse of Enron and acquiring Sunoco—as being true gamechangers for Energy Transfer. Beginning in 2001, after Enron imploded, Warren said, “Because of the Enron collapse, many assets that would’ve never been for sale came on the market very quickly.  There was a dumping of assets because, people forget, it wasn’t just Enron that had this business plan. There were a lot of Enron wannabes that had copied their plan and were doing a very similar type of approach to business.”

After growing from the ashes of this industry implosion, just over a decade later, Warren oversaw the 2012 acquisition of Sunoco, a moment that makes him reflect, “I wish my dad would’ve been around to see [this],” since “It was just emotional for me. I mean, I couldn’t believe it. I remember the day that it closed. In my prayers, I talked to my dad about it.”

So, what made this acquisition so notable for Warren? He says, “It was a big deal,” in large part because “it was also a fabulous acquisition for our unitholders.” Of course, in addition to his leadership position at Energy Transfer, Warren is also a heavily invested shareholder—as of August of 2023, he owned more than 103 million company shares, worth close to $950 million dollars at that time. Now, deeply invested—both personally and professionally—in the energy sector, Warren has a message for those who believe that natural gas and similar energy sources are soon to become obsolete. He says, “don’t believe any of this nonsense that we’re transitioning out of energy. We’re not. That can’t happen, it’s impossible.” And, with visionaries such as Warren at the forefront of the industry, his confidence is not just admirable—its virtually guaranteed.

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