Opening Remarks

Willam Drennen

Good morning!   I see that everybody's got his or her coffee and pastries. You know, it is a good deal to be the first speaker in the day.  I have your attention.  I can pretty much say what I want.  It's the
speakers after me that have to worry about it.  I usually say it's best to be either the first or the last speaker.  If you are the last speaker, then you can correct everybody else's mistakes during the day.  Well, for those of you who I did not get a chance to meet last night, my name is Bill Drennen.  I'm the geoscience Vice President at Exxon Production Research Company, your corporate host for this event.  And on behalf of Exxon, the American Geological Institute, and the organizations that have helped put this conference together, it's a real pleasure to welcome you to the first AGI corporate associate's conference.  We have scheduled what I believe are two interesting days focusing on unifying the geosciences, improving
corporate and academic communications.   Through focused discussion, we hope to develop a set of well-defined issues and action items, which will be used as a catalyst for improving communication between the private sector, academia, and the government. Now one might legitimately ask why are we doing this?  Why would AGI and the geoscience private sector invite department chairs or representatives from 60 institutions across the United States, about an equal number of professionals from busines, and several government agencies to spend a couple of days together?

The objective of our co-host, AGI, is to serve the wider geoscience community by fostering improved communication between academia, the private sector, and government.  Specifically, that means to develop a more effective public presence for  the geosciences;  ensure a sufficient supply of well-trained geoscientists to support industry, government, and academia; facilitate the dissemination of ideas between the various sectors; and improve basic communication.   In today's marketplace, we recognize that there is intense competition for the best students.  To not only maintain, but continue to improve the success that my industry, the oil and gas industry, has had throughout the decade, we must attract the best trained and educated people available.  But with the uncertainties that face the private sector, such as commodity pricing, supply, demand, etc., there is a need to develop fundamental geoscience skills in today's students that can be applied universally.  None of us expect students graduating today to have skills across the entire spectrum of upper end technology.  In that arena, industry must educate new employees.  All of us on the
corporate side like to think that when you graduate, you are only beginning your next phase of education.  And also, we recognize that industry may not have communicated as sufficiently as we could have in the past to you and your predecessors about opportunities for geoscientists that exist in oil and gas, environmental, hydrology, mining minerals, or the government.  Now for our attendees from academia, perhaps the biggest question that you have for this conference is this, why should graduates enter the
corporate world given the cyclical nature of the business?  That's a real good question and one I'd like to address up front.  First, the business world that is connected to geoscience, is tremendously exciting,
very intellectually stimulating, and technically challenging -- attributes of a career that we all desire.  Second, the magnitude of these challenges is great, often involving the business decision to spend or not spend hundreds of millions to several billion dollars. Consequently, geoscientists in this business have access to the latest and best technologies available.  And let's face it, the world's economy is fueled by hydrocarbons for our lifetime, our children's lifetime, and probably even another cycle and probably one more cycle.  Therefore, the world needs a strong petroleum sector.  This business is always going to be
here.

Now another exciting part of the corporate world is the ability to work global geology, whether from the office or in the field.  Today's geoscientists can work the Gulf of Mexico one day, the Caspian Sea region the next, and the Far East the day after that.  Moreover, tomorrow's geoscientists will probably get a chance to live in every area in between these geological provinces. Coupled with this global aspect of our industry is the business and personal satisfaction that stems from effective interface for the wide cross section of people, from universities to politicians, national oil companies, and government leaders.  I think communication is the glue that keeps this business moving forward.  And finally, let's make no bones about it, right sizing occurs in every business.  It is not unique to the energy sector.  Just look over the last several years at what has happened in  Silicon Valley,  the  aeronautical and  automotive business , Wall Street or  even  IBM.  It doesn't matter who or where you work.

To facilitate the discussion during this conference, the morning speakers have been asked to address the following three questions.  One, what knowledge, skills, and personal traits does it take for a geoscientist to succeed in your industry?  Two, in the immediate future, what type of employment positions will be available and where will they be located geographically?  And three, what is the most important
problem or issue that will effect geoscience employment trends in our industry over the next five to ten years?   Likewise, for the educational speakers, a common theme was suggested: what knowledge, skills
and personal traits does your academic segment seek to instill in geoscience students?  And what is the most important problem or issue that will effect geoscience employment education in your segment over
the next five to ten years?  I think with a clear understanding of these issues and strategies in which we work, our expectation is that the panel discussions today will go a long way towards improving these
lines of communication.

So before we start the day's proceedings, I would like to give you my perspective as to why I am supporting this conference.   First and foremost, the future of my company, Exxon, depends on an internally sourced uninterrupted supply of product.  That supply chain starts with a geologic interpretation; whether it's
the identification of a new play, a Wild Cat well, or an ore body evaluation.  Exxon spends about $10 billion a year exploring, producing, refining, and marketing hydrocarbons, coal, and minerals.  Our oil and
gas exploration business operates in about 30 countries, drills about 100 Wild Cats globally per year, and employees about 1,200 geoscientists in either operations or research.  We found an average of over one
billion oil equivalent net barrels per each year since 1993.  To add these reserves to our ledger, however, we had to discover in excess of 38 billion gross oil equivalent barrels, all of this at a cost averaging about $1.00 or less per barrel.

Second, to accomplish this level of performance requires skilled practitioners.  We spend considerable effort training our geoscientists on the application of new state-of-the-art technology, which for the most part is developed in-house at our lab, which you will get to see tomorrow.  In 1997, for example, we had over 800 Exxon employees attend in-house one to three week training covering about 50 available courses.  We, therefore, need to be very familiar with new trends, techniques, and technologies that will facilitate next generation technology development.

Consequently this form will serve Exxon and industry well to hear from you while at the same time being able to express our needs.  And given the importance of geoscience to our industry, it is vital that Exxon's vision for the future includes a commitment to enhance our relationship with academia and improve our recruiting process if we are to hire the best talent.  We look to improve our relationship with you, our partners, who greatly influence the training and development  of the Exxon employees of the future.

Exxon has a commitment to maintain our  communication with you and form an alliance that will enable you to better understand the needs of Exxon geoscience new hires and prepare them for entry to the energy sector. Obviously, a partnership comes with an investment commitment to both parties, and this
one is no different.  Consequently, Exxon decided to underwrite the cost of  a large portion of this forum; to give you a peek inside our research lab tomorrow; and as we have done previously, conduct a geoscience department chair conference at Exxon to show many of you first-hand our technologies and just exactly what do we do in the oil patch.

Recognizing the important contribution geoscience makes to Exxon, and I believe my colleagues would say to their organizations as well, this chart highlights several of the expectations industry holds regarding new hire employment.  It is critical that tomorrow's graduates have mastered the fundamental classic geoscience
skills.  They must demonstrate technical strength and depth in their areas in expertise and have a sound understanding of first principles .

Again, it remains industry's responsibility to train new hires in the use and application of advanced tools  specific to the business.  Second, they must be creative.  No two geoscience problems ever seem to be quite
the same.  An employee must be able to integrate multiple technologies and disciplines in order to develop a practical economic solution.  And third, they must possess communicative skills, both written and oral,
that facilitate the effective transfer of thought, solutions, or focused questions.  Probably for me, this is one weak point that I do see in graduates today, the inability to succinctly articulate their message. Fourth, oil and gas exploration is global.  As I mentioned, at Exxon we have upstream operations and offices in 30 countries, and tomorrow's talent must be willing to live abroad.  Flexibility is key. Moreover to my first point, we look to universities to incorporate not just U.S. geology in the classroom as classroom examples, but instill a global geo-technical understanding as well.  And finally, a business sense sure helps.  This is not something we often see in recent graduates, and perhaps it could be a subject of conversation this afternoon during one of our panel discussions.

Earlier I asked the question, why would we invite you to spend a couple of days with us?  Well, I hope I have provided a few of the reasons.  It is our vision that this conference will serve as an immediate method of improving our communication and that it will provide each of you with a better understanding of how we work, how skilled geoscientists apply the  technologies industry has developed, and the career
Opportunities we have to offer new geoscientists.  This conference also serves as the initial opportunity for my colleagues and I to meet many of you and is the first phase of a lasting commitment we have made to better communicate with you and through you to your universities and students. So I hope you have an enjoyable and informative visit and I look forward to our next two days together.  I would be more than happy  to answer any questions that you might have at this point.  I need to also mention to this crowd that everything is being recorded for posterity, so choose your words carefully.  More importantly, wait until a
microphone comes forward to you to ask your question. Thank you.