About Us

Excellence, Innovation & Experience in Oil & Gas Production

Our Name

Starting a company is full of dreams and pitfalls. We believe our name successfully captures this unique state of mind.

The word Zavanna is inspired by the word “savanna” and its reference in Bernard DeVoto’s book, Across the Wide Missouri. One only has to replace fabled lands and the riches that lie just over the horizon with words like “prospects”, “dry holes”, “DSTs”, and “discoveries” to capture the essence of Zavanna.

“It was a word of poetry and power. A savanna was of the mind only, of the mind’s edge, of fantasy. It suggested meadows in sunlight, groves beside streams, something lovely and rich and distant. While the pioneer was still in the piedmont, savannas were what you would see from the Cumberland Mountains when you looked down into a country still mostly fable, Kentucky. The Spanish sailors with bearded lips found savannas in Florida as long as that province too remained fable. The trouble was that Florida and Kentucky came out of fable, came out of it diminished by fact, and savannas moved on west.”
– Across the Wide Missouri, Bernard DeVoto,
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Copyright 1947

Our History


Zavanna, LLC was founded in 1994 to leverage a unique computer-based technology for oil and gas exploration, development and acquisitions. This proprietary technology was incorporated into The ExplorationStation, and was the result of a 16-year multidisciplinary effort. The power of the technology was in its unique ability to integrate several types of databases and to apply statistical analysis in a very compressed time frame.

This allowed our expert users to perform unbiased and exhaustive quantitative analysis of geological, geophysical, engineering and production data compiled for large geographically defined areas of up to 30,000 wells, or areas defined by a trend, play or concept. It gave Zavanna, and its joint venture partners, the capability to conduct new exploration in existing producing areas, unmatched by any other oil and gas company.

Zavanna pursued a strategy of forming strategic alliances, joint ventures or joint exploration agreements with industry partners designed to complement the technology. Joint ventures were formed during the late 1990s in portions of East and West Texas, the Anadarko Basin of Oklahoma, Florida, the Williston Basin of North Dakota, and Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada.


Zavanna concentrated its efforts in the Williston Basin of North Dakota to develop two of its significant discoveries: the Foreman Butte Field and the Briar Creek Field.

In 2005, Zavanna sold a portion of its leasehold to Brigham in an effort to develop Bakken production. In the fall of 2008, Zavanna drilled its first two operated wells, which together have produced a total cumulative value of nearly 300,000 barrels of oil.


Between 2011 and 2014, Zavanna helped start Liberty Oilfield Services and River Bend Oil & Gas and became part owner of 1804 LTD, a gas processing facility in North Dakota. This strategic activity fortified Zavanna’s vertically integrated operating model. Zavanna successfully implemented a new artificial lift technique in 2014, pioneering the way forward for new methods, and infill drilling began shortly thereafter in several prospects.

Zavanna is in the process of transitioning to an employee-owned model. Through a Profits Interest Program, employees now share in the benefits of company growth without being exposed to the associated risk of loss and liability. This new structure better reflects Zavanna’s employee-centered culture and the core tenet that we want everyone to care passionately about the company’s success.

Our Vision

Zavanna’s focus has never been on short-term gains or rapid success. Rather, our vision reaches much further and is the reason we choose to operate differently. We’ve achieved our success one step and one relationship at a time, taking action today that ensures a bright and sustainable tomorrow. Whether it’s engaging with the local community or leveraging innovative techniques to minimize impacts on the environment, Zavanna strives for excellence in every aspect of operations.

Our Corporate Social Responsibility program is an integral part of company culture. Each year, Zavanna participates in outreach and philanthropic activities designed to strengthen the local community. We work with Habitat for Humanity and Junior Achievement in Colorado and support the 4-H Youth Development Program and the Special Olympics in North Dakota. We look forward to forging new relationships for many years to come.

As our name suggests, we find inspiration in the great natural resources of North Dakota. We carefully manage our role of harnessing raw energy while imparting care and respect for the lands for which we operate as our own.

Zavanna has a proven track record of not only meeting but exceeding regulatory requirements governing many of its operations. One example of this is demonstrated through Zavanna’s gas capture program, which demonstrated an efficiency nearly half of the limit mandated by the North Dakota Industrial Commission in 2020. We strictly adhere to all environmental regulations and work alongside state and federal agencies to ensure compliance of our development and production activities.

All of these values work together seamlessly and naturally to create Zavanna’s ESG Report.


Our Team

William L. Coleman

Chairman of the Board & Founder

William L. Coleman has been managing Zavanna’s growth and strategic direction since its formation in 1994. In 1981, Bill founded

Prairie Petroleum, Inc. (Prairie), to market oil and gas prospects in the Williston and Powder River Basins. Prairie formed the foundation for Zavanna. Bill received his BA in Economics from Duke University in 1973 and his MBA from Tulane University in 1978. He began his career as a Landman with Atlantic Richfield in 1975, working in its Denver, Dallas and Midland offices. In 1979, he moved to Aminol USA in Houston to work the offshore Gulf Coast and moved on to become a Division Land Manager for the Rocky Mountains.

David Hodges

Chief Executive Officer & President

David Hodges was elected President and Chief Executive Officer of Zavanna, LLC by the board of directors as of October 2018.

David has a passion for growing the company significantly beyond what it is today by focusing on the personal and professional development of each individual employee, believing that the key to a successful company lies in its people. David joined Zavanna in August of 2012 as the Senior Vice President of Operations and in August of 2015 became the Chief Operating Officer. During this time, David helped Zavanna grow its gross production base from 3,000 boe/day to a peak of 25,000 boe/day. David spent the first six years of his career on the service side. During 2005, David made the switch from service to operator and joined Ultra Petroleum as an Operations Engineer. David grew with Ultra from 2005 through 2012 in various roles with increasing management responsibilities. David now has more than two decades of experience in the energy industry and extensive field level operations experience in multiple basins including the San Juan, Green River, Marcellus, DJ, and Bakken. He has provided executive level leadership, guidance, and vision for 60,000 acres in Bakken development with over $1.2bn in gross capital spent to date. David has successfully led companies through multiple industry downturns, always finding creative ways to deliver returns during those times.

David obtained his BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Buffalo and his Executive MBA from the University of Denver.

Matt Ott

Chief Financial Officer & Executive Vice President

Matt Ott joined Zavanna, LLC in February 2017 to head up the Business Development group, taking

responsibility for company strategy, growth initiatives and the company’s reserves. He recently moved into the roles of Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President. An Engineer by background, Matt’s drive comes from finding new and creative ways to generate value for the company. He loves to leverage his knowledge of the entire oil and gas industry to create value. Matt’s favorite part of the industry is the people and he feels fortunate to work and have relationships with some of the best and brightest. Matt spent the first nine years of his career working for Venoco, Inc., first as an Operations Engineers based in California working in multiple basins offshore and onshore. He then moved to the Denver office and became the Manager of Corporate Finance and A&D, spearheading A&D, corporate strategy and restructuring initiatives.

Matt is excited to be a part of taking a company with such a successful history into the future.
Matt obtained his BS in Petroleum Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines.

Scott McKenzie

Chief Accounting Officer

As Chief Accounting Officer at Zavanna, LLC, Scott McKenzie is a hands-on leader who focuses on optimal efficiency and employs a careful eye for detail.

His lengthy career at Zavanna has focused on delivering key metrics, careful guidance and reasonable approaches to Zavanna’s leadership team which has helped transition the company into what you see today. Before joining Zavanna, Scott was with Petrogulf Corporation in various creative roles serving the owner and CEO. Prior to that, Scott served as an Accountant for Weins Capital Management Company. Scott graduated with a BS in Accounting from Metropolitan State University of Denver & University of Phoenix. He earned his MBA from the University of Phoenix. He served as a full-time AmeriCorps member in 1998 and 1999, working for various government offices.

Carissa Berres

Vice President of Administration

Carissa Berres is in the business of supporting people.She began her career as an Administrative Assistant and moved into an Administrative

Coordinator role through her seven years working at a tax, business consulting and accounting firm in Lakewood, CO. After a brief stint as a legal assistant, she was hired on to the Zavanna team as Land Administrative Assistant in May 2014. She became Chief of Staff in January 2015, taking over payroll and HR while also supporting the Executive Team and moved into the role of VP of Administration in early 2020. Carissa has enjoyed the growth and development she has experienced not only in supporting others, but also as a part of the Management Team, where she derives great fulfillment in helping to make Zavanna a great place to work.

Carissa has a BA in Linguistics from the University of Northwestern – St. Paul.

Kelsi Wallace

Vice President of Operations

Kelsi Wallace graduated with a BS in Petroleum Engineering from Colorado School of Mines in 2013. She started her career in

the Uinta Basin with Newfield Exploration gathering essential field experience with drilling, completions, production, and facilities teams. She joined the Zavanna team in 2014, initially focused on production optimization. During her time at Zavanna she continued to expand her role, ultimately assuming responsibilities covering workover operations, planning special field projects, and eventually leading the completions program. She recently moved into the role of VP of Operations. Cultivating a multidisciplinary approach has been a critical focus in her career. With a passion for creative problem-solving and building efficiencies into daily operations, she and her team have been able to make small but impactful changes to dramatically improve large-scale projects at Zavanna. Kelsi is excited to continue incorporating agile decision-making and effective data analysis into future operations and development.