The Texas Rose Festival and the petroleum business in East Texas have deeply entwined roots, Anadarko Petroleum CEO Al Walker told the Texas Rose Festival Men’s Luncheon on Friday. And they have flourished alongside each other.
Now, however, the oil and gas industry is experiencing some tough times, as Saudi Arabia and OPEC keep pumping oil despite a supply glut that has resulted from advancements in hydraulic fracturing technology — fracking.
“I don’t have any pearls of wisdom on where we are, or why the Saudis are doing what they’re doing,” he said. “But it’s been worse. It’s not as bad as it was in 1986.”
And it’s going to get better, he said, when the laws of supply and demand eventually level out production.
Anadarko is one of the world’s largest publicly traded oil and gas firms in the world. Walker also serves as a director of the Houston Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
From his vantage point, he told the nearly 500 men gathered for the luncheon, he can see light at the end of the tunnel. But it won’t be immediate.
“In the coming five years, I see a lot of volatility,” he said. “I’m afraid there will be a period of great destruction.”
That will also be a period of great opportunity and innovation.
“We, as an industry, in the next 10 years will find new ways of recovering existing fields more efficiently,” he predicted.
That could have a huge impact on East Texas, where producers have extracted much of the oil that’s easy to get to — but vast reserves remain, reserves that will be more and more accessible as technology improves.
“And artificial intelligence will play a role,” Walker said. “This will be disruptive technology. Rather than just letting it hit us in the face, we should turn around and ride that wave.”
Petroleum producers already collect a vast amount of data — so much that human eyes can’t process it all.
“We need to use machines to help us with the data,” he said. “We’ll process all that data more efficiently, and marry it with new technologies to help us recover the oil in East Texas and elsewhere.”
Walker has been instrumental in efforts to convince Washington to lift the oil export ban, put in place during the 1970s energy crisis. Congress is convinced, he said. And behind the scenes, he added, even the White House “gets it.”
“But the president can’t look like he’s in favor of this, because he’ll alienate the environmental left that’s going to build his presidential library in Chicago,” he said. “So we need 60 senators — a veto-proof majority — to give him cover.”
Lifting the oil export ban would help stabilize prices, Walker said.
In the longer term, he concluded, “fossil fuels will always have a role” in energy production. But Anadarko is focused on sustainable energy development.
“As long as we’re using fossil fuels, I like being part of a company that does it responsibly,” he said.
This article was written by Roy Maynard from Tyler Morning Telegraph, Texas and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.