Petroleum Sector - Era of Change

Dodd DeCamp, ARCO

The petroleum industry, today, is entering a new era of lower commodity prices, while at the same time, is challenged with industry-reshaping opportunities.  The recent price of West Texas Intermediate crude is far below the average prices realized over the last 30 years.  Inflation-adjusted oil prices haven't been lower since the depression era of the early 1930's.  Financial markets and not cartels are beginning to determine the supply, demand, and price of energy commodities.  Both the U.S. and International (non-OPEC) rig counts have hit all time lows which will likely result in a significant non-OPEC supply response.  Technology has revolutionized not only the way in which oil and gas is found, developed, and produced, but is revolutionizing how it is consumed as well.  Concerns over global warming, clean air and water are slowly, but inexorably shifting the policies of governments around the world toward environmentally more friendly energy technologies.  Mega-mergers, as well as smaller mergers have occurred or are underway.  The opening of previously closed countries and the worldwide restructuring of the regulated natural gas and electricity business will present huge opportunities.  The roles of national governments, supra-national organizations, corporations and non-government organizations are changing to adapt to this rapidly shifting environment.

Through-cycle strategic management and transformation to successfully negotiate this exciting future will be enormously challenging.  We can anticipate these changes; evolve successfully to prevail in this environment... or not.  Obvious implications for education and employment present themselves here.  Realistically, the petroleum industry is increasingly under relentless pressure to innovate more streamlined processes and lower costs.  Corporate restructuring throughout industry and additional consolidation will continue, but the challenge to capture and training the right skills and personalities that can thrive in this jungle and successfully renew this industry will be as acute as ever.

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