Learn more about Hart Energy Conferences
Get our latest conference schedules, updates and insights straight to your inbox.
At Hart Energy’s 50th Anniversary Hall of Fame Awards on Dec. 5, a trio of oil and gas mavericks sat down to discuss the state of energy, the policy shaping it, the energy transition, OPEC and more.
Jordan Blum, editorial director, Hart Energy: Apologies to Warren Buffett: He's an oracle of oil known for his wit and no-nonsense wisdom. He co-founded Tudor Pickering Holt & Co., and now again leads Pickering Energy Partners as Chief Investment Officer. Please welcome your moderator, Dan Pickering.
Dan Pickering: Hello, everyone. I am trying to see if my mic is on, which I don't think it is. Now it is. Perfect. What a pleasure to be here with this crowd. Allow me, because they're not going to toot their own horn, but allow me to thank the folks at Hart [Energy] for their work over the last 50 years and putting this together, which is a great event and bringing folks together.
I told someone that I was doing this event tonight and they said, "Who are you going to get a selfie with?" And I said, "There's too many." So congratulations to all of the Hall of Fame honorees. Well deserved. And we'll be watching for the Agents of Change, for sure.
We're going to do about a 45-minute fireside chat here. I have the easiest job in the world. I was joking earlier, all I need to do is introduce our three panelists and then say, "How are things going in the energy patch?" And that will essentially be 45 minutes and we'll be off and running.
But it's my pleasure to welcome to the stage, I'm going to introduce your panelists tonight alphabetically, Harold Hamm. Harold's the executive chairman of Continental Resources. He's the executive chair of the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance and he's the founder of the Hamm Institute for American Energy at Oklahoma State University. Harold.
Next to Tom will be Chris Wright. Chris is the chairman and CEO of Liberty Energy. He's the founder and chairman of Liberty Resources. He's the former founder of Stroud Energy and Pinnacle Technologies. Chris.
We've got a very knowledgeable crowd, but I think we're going to learn a lot in the next 45 minutes. I think the greatest place to start, and I'm going to exclude shale because we'll have shale as its own topic, but if you think about 1973 to today, what one or two things stand out in your mind? And for this one, we're going to go to my left. Harold, you first, and then we'll go Tom and Chris.
Harold Hamm: Well, I think the biggest thing that has happened, excluding shale, ... it's horizontal drilling that really gave us the ability to access what I call generation two rock, and that's tight rock. It doesn't have porosity and permeability that would produce when drilled vertically, but could be saturated with both oil and gas, and once you put a straw in it and gets well bore exposure.
DP: Those are technical terms. Put a straw in it.
HH: Well, you get that multiplier up to a million times the producibility of a reservoir that drilled vertically wouldn't produce, so that to me was a big turning point that made so much possible, the energy renaissance possible. We don't talk about shale, but okay.
DP: We'll get there. What about you Tom?
Tom Petrie: I think it was mentioned earlier about the Yom Kippur War of '73. It was an important event and it took on a certain significance for me, because the day I graduated from West Point, six years earlier than that, just as we were about to go out on the plane for graduation parade, the speakers came on in central area and they said, "We just want you to know, not only do we congratulate you on being commissioned in the United States Army; we want you to know that Israel and Egypt are at war as of last night." And that was the Six-Day War.
It underscored for me that the geopolitics that I'd been studying about for the prior four years, and some before that, were going to be important. I didn't know I was going to be in the oil industry. I knew I was pretty likely to go to Vietnam. I knew I was going to Ranger School in Germany, but that really came home to me six years later and became a key element, guiding some of the judgments I tried to make over the years since then.
It's more than a half century ago, but it still reminds me. I was in London when it was announced and [Saudi Arabian] King Faisal had his concerns about what was going on. The first tripling occurred, and we had a second tripling three, four years later and so on. Not that price alone was the sole driver by any means, but when we started to see really new territory, when three became 13 and 13 became 39, that was an underscoring for me. We still needed to understand a lot of the technical merits.
And the one other thing I'd say is I learned a lot about Yates when they decided some half century after Yates was discovered that you could still double production in a field like that, that had been discovered after three dry holes on the Yates' family property. But somebody figured out how to go against that rule about there's no oil west of the Pecos [River]. They found the best over the horseshoe they could, where it was clearly well west of the rest of the river.
DP: One thing I take away from that is 39 was an amazingly good number then, so inflation is alive and well, because I think 39 would not be viewed as a particularly good number today.
TP: We do revisit it, but the wrong way.
DP: Yes, exactly. Chris, what strikes you?
Chris Wright: I can't add to these industry historians, no implication on their age there.
TP: Thanks, Chris.
CW: Well, I'll step back a little further and say the economic growth, industrialization, the start of the modern world is really the late 1800s Northern Europe. It's spread into Central Europe and the United States, but had not touched most of the world until after World War II.
After World War II, we saw this tremendous growth of industrialization and economic growth, and the rest of the world starting on this pathway to the modern world. And to do that, that's just massive increases in energy. Once you got into the post-World War II era, there was a momentum going that could only keep going with massive increases in available energy. So that economic growth was the pull, and then the innovators in our industry and people around the world responded to that pull.
DP: Great. We did get to shale and we got there pretty quickly. Let's talk a little bit about the shale revolution. It's definitely a revolution. Tom, talk a little bit about how you feel it's changed the U.S. industry and the global industry.
TP: It was astounding, really, when you think about it, the idea that we could see enough innovation, creativity in that drilling process to realize that if we could go down and begin to tap with a horizontal well and have the kind of integrity to the completion of those wells that came about, then the first 100 years changed the whole business, and with us tonight is one of the people who really saw that.
I love the story of Harold going out, I believe to a Lyco well there in the Williston, and a truck was coming out. I read it a long time ago so I may get it a little wrong, but Harold said something to a truck that was loaded with oil, and he said, "So you got a full truckload here." And, "This is my second trip today." And I think Harold's comment was, "Game on."
There's a lot of technology that really came about and all kinds of things. George Mitchell gets a lot of credit for what he did on the gas side and the Barnett. I sent Harold a report I'd written I think about a month after I moved to Denver in 1980. I sent it to him when I was cleaning things out as I move into my emeritus status with my old partners at Petrie Parkland and Petrie Partners today, and it was amazing to see what kind of transformation could occur.
What was really amazing was how it became energized in this country, because we were like a pin cushion. We drilled lots and lots of wells for more than a century. We logged them, we had the state records, and we had the ability of people who drilled a lot of dry holes to learn a lot from their mistakes and go back and figure out that if you're going to drill for source rock, it could be a different story on just the wells that you walked away from.
You need a good environment, you need to have that demand that Chris talked about. I talked about the tripling and the second tripling. It doesn't stay there. And as Dan really brought out, it doesn't, and that's an important thing, too, because it needs to benefit the consuming population, and we have to keep that in mind too. It can trigger change in innovation, but it still needs to be delivered at an acceptable price.
And luckily in this country, we do have a market that will respond both ways. It's very interesting. I was at a board meeting very recently talking about the next few years, and OPEC's got its own set of new challenges as the geopolitics of the world say that demand pattern may be a tougher call in some of these years.
DP: We'll get to OPEC in a minute. Chris, thoughts on the shale revolution?
CW: Well, I'm glad I get to go before Harold, because he's going to say it's all about horizontal drilling, and of course, he's wrong. It's all about fracking. And when they wanted to badmouth us, the New York Times put a K in "fracking," not drilling. Of course, it's the combination.
But I'll start off with a hat tip to the Mitchell family. I'd love to meet you at the reception afterwards. I wrote a memoriam for George Mitchell on what would've been his 100th birthday, maybe about 10 years ago, for a publication in Europe, just trying to frame the importance of what the shale revolution was.
And it was by far and away, the most transformative event in the global energy system in our lifetimes. Just this incredible, this radical increase, first in available natural gas, and therefore lower priced natural gas; then in oil, and therefore lower oil prices -- over a trillion dollars a year of savings to consumers around the world. For lower income people, the cost of energy is just the most impactful thing on their lives by far, because it sets the cost and availability of everything else.
So the U.S. went from largest importer of oil in the world, largest importer of natural gas of every country in the world, and just now, we're passing Russia as the largest net exporter of natural gas. How can you go in 15 years from the biggest net importer to the biggest net exporter? By far the biggest importer of oil in the world to now a net exporter of oil.
It's not just the economics. It's the geopolitical transformation of power where United States' position in the world has just risen dramatically. We show this data. China, about the time of the start of the shale revolution, produced about as much energy as it consumed.
It was a tiny net importer, and we were by far the world's largest importer. Now of those two together, we're a meaningful net exporter, and they are by far and away the largest net importer. So our biggest challenge or worry today in the energy isn't with China. You hear all about that, but no one talks about the radically better energy situation the United States sits in than China or virtually any other major power in the world.
I met George Mitchell once. I gave a talk in East Texas, young naive kid in Tyler, Texas, a Mitchell guy had me come to Fort Worth, said, "Maybe we'll try that idea." Took me to Houston. I met with a crew there who were awesome. I didn't even know what shale was. I went to college to work in nuclear energy and then solar. I never had a class in oil and gas in my life, so all I knew was it doesn't flow easily through shale. I didn't even get it was the source rock.
But I had an idea, and another colleague of mine, Mike Mayerhofer, one of my colleagues at Liberty, had an idea and Mitchell Energy decided they've been trying since 1982, for 15, 16 years, open-minded to try different things to see what might change the game and bring production out of shale. And so late '97, '98, three of these huge slickwater refracs on vertical wells started commercial shale gas production.
Certainly I, and probably most, had no idea how transformative this would be to the world. We thought this was great that this place north of Fort Worth was going to be able to produce more gas. And for Mitchell with a gathering contract with a utility in Chicago, it had big economic implications. But it was exciting time for me, but no appreciation of where it was going until Harold came along with this drilling idea that really was the game changer, right, Harold?
DP: Sooner or later, sooner or later. You're our anchor man on this, Harold. Talk to us about shale.
HH: I'm glad we got off that fracking stuff, get onto the real deal. No, Tom brought it up, dealing with a source bed. That's what it's all about. Once you're able to go into those source beds, that's where 85% of the reserves are in the world. We'd been living for 165 years off the 15% that leaked off of them. And up until then, that's what the world had gotten by on.
That just opened up a whole new world, and even though the first real field that we developed, basically it was Cedar Hills Field, that wasn't source rock. That was Red River B, but it gave us a good field for what we could do. So we began looking for the next thin bed reservoirs that we could use horizontal drilling in, and that was the Bakken. We mapped down Cooley 1996 and then waited for the technology to catch up where we could actually produce it.
I was excited when we had some help from Lyco and a few of these other guys that went out there experimenting with Halliburton's money. We really liked that. It helped us along a path, and that became the big deal, was Elm Cooley. That's where the Bakken started, was in Montana, and of course, took it into North Dakota.
It wasn't easy. It wasn't easy breaking the code. It was totally difficult. One of the greats here is Bill Barrett, and I remember that they'd kind of busted their pick west of the Nesson Anticline about the time that we went public, which didn't help our IPO very much in the Bakken. It took some time to break the code in the Bakken to turn it on.
That was the big kahuna, that was the big deal, and that's what we live off of, and that gives us the great supply that we have today -- that and what we're doing in the Permian and everywhere else with shales. So it is quite tremendous. And now, we have to share that responsibility and supply the world, but not oversupply the world. That's a big part of it as well.
DP: My only comment on this topic is everybody in this room understands how hard it is to fight decline, so when you think about how hard it is to grow production and the U.S. went from five to 13 million barrels a day, wow. That is a revolution.
HH: 13.24 [MMbbl/d] today.
DP: Give or take. Give or take. We're now in the dangerous part of our agenda because we've spent 15 minutes, that gives us 30 minutes, but the topic is policy. And I say it's the dangerous part of our agenda because we could talk about policy forever. Chris, I'm going to let you start with just if you think about over the past number of years, talk about what have we learned and where have we gone wrong. And please limit your answer to two minutes or less.
CW: I'll take two recent ones, and my colleagues can probably go further back in time. The first one that was truly transformative was getting rid of the oil export ban that had been in place for 40 plus years. Everybody assumed we were going to be a net oil importer forever. It basically made Alaskan crude come down and be refined in California.
This sort of view that I would say pre-embracement of free trade. So we couldn't export oil from the United States. We could refine other people's oil and export refined products, but not export oil. I would say Harold was the leader on this, a number of other people in this room, but this was ceaseless attempts to sell why this was good for America, why it wouldn't undermine our security.
Maybe took a little curious political circumstances at the time to get it done, but the world would be a very different place, geopolitically and the energy situation would be a very different place, if that ban had not been lifted when it was, coming up on now, Harold, correct me, I think eight years ago.
If that had not happened, it couldn't be done politically today. Couldn't have been done two or three years ago. It would be a very different energy system: higher energy prices, lower security, less efficiency in how products moved around the world. This one was awesome. So policy, governments can do something right if appropriately prodded.
More recently, I think, is very much the opposite. I've talked a lot in my world about what Europe did with their energy system, and it is truly a calamity. An absolute calamity. The birthplace of the industrial revolution, the United Kingdom, has had a 30% decline in their internal consumption of energy. Most of that is because all their energy intensive manufacturing has just been outsourced to the U.S. or Asia -- more to Asia, but a lot to the US.
Germany is going down the same road. Their biggest source of greenhouse-gas emission reductions is just to export them elsewhere. And then the other sources, if you make something expensive and unreliably, shockingly, people will consume less of it. This last winter in Europe, everyone said, "Oh, well, thank God we had a warm winter in Europe and there was no calamity," because of their struggle with shortage of natural gas. They didn't stop, but they reduced their imports of Russian gas.
Well, I beg to differ. Industrial production down 20%: that's a calamity for a country and for an economy. And those factories that shut down, they're not coming back. They're continuing this export of their thing. And a public health data: 68,000 more people died in the European Union last winter, in a mild winter, of the cold than died the previous number of winters. When you make energy expensive, you kill people in large numbers and you export industry.
And with the Inflation Reduction Act in the United States, we've set in place, it's very similar to the European policy, just massive uncapped subsidies that will attract private money that'll be matched with these subsidies to get an acceptable return, and we could be on this pathway to drive our electricity grid to become more expensive and less reliable.
Now, electricity is only 20% of global energy consumption, but if you mess that piece up, people won't locate manufacturing or data centers or processing there that do use electricity in a critical faction. Now, I hope we're more sober than Europe. I hope we don't let the IRA bring the calamity upon us that it's brought on Europe, but if there's not a different American response to it, we're going down that road. This is way more destructive than I think people appreciate.
DP: This is a fun event, Chris.
CW: I'm going to be light again later.
DP: Yes. Okay, there we go. Tom?
TP: What Chris is talking about are second-order consequences that are shallowly analyzed, usually for other political purposes within our system. And look what's happened with the creation of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and then the president who made a crazy bad policy decision in his first day in office: cancel the [Keystone] XL pipeline. We don't need a close relationship with Canada just because we might be dealing with China.
The Canadians came down. Both private sector and the government said, "We will work with you on some of your environmental agenda, but don't do this." Ten o'clock the next day, he did it. When he had induced $48 oil, in less than two and a half weeks had moved to $60 oil, and then he begins to panic and says, "I think I'll become the grand manipulator in chief as I cut in half the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, dump it on the market, and now every once in a while they talk about buying a little bit of it back at a loss."
They just can't get it right. And I was thinking about it as we touched on one other thing, which is when you think about what was happening with the other policies that were there when we put in place the ban on selling American oil in the aftermath of Yom Kippur back in '73, that second-order consequence of if you do go through a transformation, are you going to actually diminish the benefits to be had?
The real mantra for the electorate in our country is for those of us in the industry to do a better job of making the case for genuine free market decisions on policy. If we don't and we end up with short-term political decisions to correct other bad decisions that were made only weeks earlier, months earlier in this case, we've got a problem. That depth of perception of good policymaking is our challenge.
We still have better recognition of letting markets work, but I took the first third of Following Oil when I wrote it in 2014. I really had to thrash through the series of bad decisions we made in the second half of the '70s and a good part of the '80s on natural gas, tearing up contracts that were there and really redefining a lot of things.
The industry adjusted to bad decisions and overcame that. It's going to have to overcome other bad decisions when shallow, short-term political objectives are the driving force, which is sadly what we've seen certainly for the better part of the last three years.
DP: Harold, this is a fun event.
HH: It is, until you brought up politics. Well, I think everybody here will agree that politics is about power, and what we've seen growing with the green movement is a power change, and basically to take power away from our sector, from oil and gas, because they know that we're totally involved in political process and they see us as conservative business people, primarily Republican—
DP: — those all sound good —
HH: —that they like to squelch. One way to do it is promote all the green, and that's what's been going on. And we've got some people that are really good, really good at lining up at the trough. Elon Musk is one of the best. All this stuff is subsidized, and these guys are so good at lining up the government trough and getting in line to feed off of it, and that's what's happening. Isn't that fun?
DP: That is fun. I don't know if anybody saw the recent press clippings of Elon Musk and what he told the audience. We're not going to do that here.
HH: We all saw it.
DP: Yeah. Let's talk a little bit, and I'm going to give this to Tom as a one panelist answer. OPEC. OPEC's been important. We started off this whole thing with 1973 and Arab oil embargo. Last week, we had an OPEC meeting and people cared very much about the outcome. Talk to us about how you see OPEC and its influence over the next decade.
TP: It's important to recognize that this is a family enterprise. A relatively small group got control of the country, and through the last half century, they took the advanced course in mistakes you can make in policy. They're much better now than they used to. They've really incentivized unaccountability in their economic system.
They're going to try to control the available oil on the market, but they need it because they still don't have a lot else to export. They're trying some innovative ideas, and they'd love to have tourists come there and so on, but that's not everybody's choice to do that. And how big can that be versus the kind of oil that they've sold over the years? So it's a big challenge.
The four years that we were an adviser on their gas initiative, '99 to 2003, I was impressed with the quality of analysis that they were working to do to come to grips with the reality at that time. That said, I don't believe that the people in charge now -- they've actually made a geopolitical realignment buy-in with the reorganization of power structures in the Eastern Hemisphere.
I talk about that in the overlapping power triangles in Following Oil, and it's more alive today than when I talked about it a decade ago.
DP: Chris, you're going to be our anchorman on this topic. Harold, tell us about the energy transition. Is it the real thing? Is it a hoax? Is it somewhere in between? How do you think about decarbonization, energy evolution, whatever word you want to use around it?
HH: Well, we have to do our part. A lot of us are involved in different things to do that: carbon capture, underground sequestration. Certainly that can be our forte. We're good at all those things. Whether that be pipelining, handling pressure, working with underground reservoirs, all that stuff. So that can play a big part.
But it's all about addition more than anything else. We're using more of everything. We're using more wood, more coal, more natural gas, more oil and gas. We just talked about that, the highest level ever here in the U.S. And nuclear, certainly that's going to need to play a part. People are consuming a hell of a lot more energy than ever before, and that's growing. It's not going down. That's growing.
I think all of our midstream brothers and sisters out here will admit that we're moving a lot of product. We're moving a lot of natural gas. The lines are full. I think, looking forward, we need to make sure that we've got the fuel for the future, and we do have it. We've got a 100-year supply of natural gas. I believe that as geologists.
We just had a summit in Oklahoma City that a lot of very knowledgeable people talked at. We think we can see 50 years of oil usage ahead of us, and a foreseeable future there over 50 to 100 years of natural gas. So we've got the supply. We need to manage it and use it to the best advantage of our entire society. So we'll do that.
But I mentioned earlier that we need to always be mindful of what the market is and what demand is and where it's going, what that's doing, and be smart about our business, because we're going to be looked at to actually provide this.
I know that people think that they transition is like a switch over there on the wall to turn lights on off. We're not in that. We're in the evolution here, and our industry, we've seen that evolvement, and we're going to evolve further as we go down the road and do things a lot different than we are today. But I see good things coming, and a lot of us are involved in those things that are happening out there as we go forward.
TP: I thought you were going to have... All right, I get you now. The thing I am struck by is that there is this big question of global economic growth, and OPEC, with its desire to rebalance things, is probably making a commitment that's going to be really challenging for them.
Harold's right about the growth elsewhere, and there's a state of economic or energy poverty in Africa and many other parts of the world, and that's why going to what Chris has talked about is so important, that, in fact, we can play a role where that economic poverty is diminished.
And we need to be doing that in a way that then in this geopolitical system where the two big communist countries: the largest landowner in the world, Russia; and the largest population until just recently, China -- and now with India going beyond them -- we need to be addressing how that energy poverty that exists in the world can be diminished, and therefore, there's an uplifting in which Chris has been very articulate on this. I think he's right on with it. It's a role we can play.
When I started citing the tripling of oil in '73 and the second tripling in '79 after the Iranian Revolution, it was not to welcome that, not to bring it on and think that's great. What it provided us was a wake-up call for innovation to have been stimulated here in North America, especially in the U.S., certainly alongside us, Canada.
And in the global power confrontation that we're in, and we're going to be in it for some time, when you think about what happened in the aftermath of this crazy, irresponsible, idiotic, may I use that word once, abandonment of Afghanistan in a way that sent all the wrong signals. But what do we have today? Does anyone think that Afghanistan had nothing to do with what Putin decided he would do in the Ukraine?
And we've got a situation where those kinds of conditions really need to be addressed in a system that's as resilient as our system has proved to be across the cycles, and we can't let that pass without ensuring that we recognize the realities and we work with them, because the power structures in the Eastern Hemisphere are lining up in a different way now.
They used to talk about the game of power in the late 1800s in that part of the world. We're going back to a modern version, a 21st century version of that with some of the alignments that are coming up right now... Our industry has a big role to play.
One last thing: our president bought into everything that was in the --- about three years ago, there was an article in The Economist magazine about how we go with a totally electric economy. What we're beginning to realize is you can't do that without so disrupting everything else that's going on and weakening your actual strategic positioning in a way that the Chinese love, because Sun Tzu said this three millennia ago, that if you can get your enemy to do stupid things that weaken them, you much improve the odds you'll prevail in the long run.
We have a president who's dropped right into that misjudgment in not understanding how the Chinese think and how much they revere the philosophy of Sun Tzu from it's 2,700 years ago, just short of 3000 years.
DP: Chris, if you like that, you're going to love this.
CW: No, I was going to say, before I share some sometimes unpopular numbers, the quick background. I went to college to work on nuclear energy. I worked in solar energy in graduate school. I've worked in geothermal energy soon after that. I'm not from the oil and gas business. In fact, if not for this awesome gal I met a long time ago, I wouldn't be in the oil and gas business. Heck, I wouldn't be married and I wouldn't have two kids, and I wouldn't be nearly as happy. So a life full of luck.
But I, of course, take issue with that term "energy transition," because where we are today, we can't even see the start of an energy transition. Transition implies something is replacing something. We can't see that today. Not to say it won't ever arrive. We can't see it today.
So what's the biggest problem? And both Harold and Tom hit it. Look, we live these awesome lives. We're in this beautiful theater and these great drinks and we're going to go home to our heated houses. Most people don't have that. There's eight billion people in the world, and only about a billion even live remotely recognizable lives to us. Clearly, to me, the most urgent challenge in the world by far is just more energy.
The world needs more energy and better energy, and by better, I mean more affordable and cleaner. That's challenge number one. Climate change is real and it's global and I write a lot about it, but it's just nowhere near in urgency of getting more, better energy to the world.
Let's look at the numbers of what's actually happened. So in 2010, just coming out of the financial crisis, the world consumed 500 exajoules — very nerdy unit there from the metric system — 500 exajoules of energy in the year 2010. And in the year 2022, just last year, the world consumed 600 exajoules. So total energy produced grew by a hundred exajoules, 20% better quality of life. We need obviously a lot more of that.
Where did that extra 100 exajoules come from? I think 2010, we came out of the financial crisis, and that was the original Build Back Better. We're going to replace our energy system, as the other time we said we may have hit peak oil, and we're going to build new now. And trillions of dollars globally: mandates, subsidies, every possible way to change it.
Where did those hundred exajoules of new energy come over the last 12 years? Well, the runaway winner and the fastest growing energy source in the world by far is natural gas. A little over 40 exajoules, over 40% of that incremental energy, not total. I'm forgetting the 500 we already had, that extra 100 exajoules, a little over 40%, came from natural gas; 25% came from coal; 20% came from oil; 85% of the new energy in our energy transition has come from additional natural gas, additional coal, additional oil.
Wind was 6% of just the additional energy in the last 12 years. Solar, 5%. Hydro, 4%. Obviously none of that in the wealthy countries, but that's still a great electricity source that's able to be built in developing countries. And unfortunately, zero from nuclear. We retired and decommissioned roughly the same amount of nuclear as new nuclear that's been built in the last 12 years, so that should change.
To me, nuclear is the only reliable, dispatchable, energy-dense technology that actually could scale and become a meaningful addition to the global energy system. I am all in on nuclear, but it's going to be hopefully the secondary partner with hydrocarbons for the foreseeable future.
This tiny, tiny contributions of wind and solar, the only visible impact of them is everywhere they've penetrated, they make electricity more expensive and grids less reliable and industries leave. Now, if they didn't do all that, then they're still just a very tiny slice. All the noise, all the investment, all the whatever. Look, you can have all your own opinions about that, but just look at the numbers. Energy transition is just a shameless false marketing term. May happen someday, but we have no sight of even the start of it.
DP: We're in the home stretch here, and I wanted to finish with something that should make us all smile. Tell us a little bit about someone or something that influenced you in your energy career. Tell us a fun story about that person or that event that got you involved in energy. Chris, you can go first.
CW: Starting at the kids' table.
DP: That's right.
CW: I heard earlier, I think I'm under 40. Unfortunately, I didn't Google birthdates. I began my oil and gas career where everyone does, in San Francisco, California, and I spent the majority of my career in the oil and gas industry in San Francisco, California. So a lot of bad decisions except for meeting that awesome young gal.
To me it was all from a distance, and who are the people that excited me and got me to go into this industry beyond that awesome gal? One of them is right here. Tom Petrie and Dan Yergin were the people I read and heard when I was young. I was a mountain climber. I traveled around the world. I was very interested in geopolitics and history as well as energy.
Tom and Dan connected those to me. Energy is geopolitics. If you're in this business, you're an international business that affects world relations. I'm like, "Oh," for this nerdy guy who knows nothing about oil and gas, that's a sexy factor that got me interested.
And then I've been a lifelong entrepreneur. I look at Harold Hamm, and I did look at Harold Hamm when I was a young guy, as well. Here's a guy, he didn't take an entrepreneurship class or get a Harvard MBA. He was a scrappy entrepreneur that I aspired to be, with just incredible success. And he doesn't need to be here chatting with us about energy, but that passion. He, to me, was a role model of an entrepreneur.
And a little bit later in my life, Bill Armstrong. People who just took it on themselves to say, "I'm going to take a risk. I'm going to believe in people and I'm going to make big things happen." Those were inspirations to me.
The last one I'll mention, sorry I'm going too long, is David Miller, who I saw from across the room. I haven't talked to him. I didn't know anything about finance. I met a guy who invested $100,00 in my company, and I sort of bootstrapped it. I was well into my career before I dealt with any real bank. I didn't even know what private equity was.
I heard about it about a week before I had a dinner with David Miller, and we made a deal, and he opened my eyes to the broader capital availability, banking, equity capital and just knowing that stuff. So there's a lot of people in the room today that are the only reasons I'm in this industry and have inspired me.
And the last one I almost forgot is that guy, the funniest thing, Dan Pickering. This one, he was shocked. I told him this right before walking up here. But when I was in San Francisco with my own little company and sort of figuring it out, I only knew customers or potential customers.
When he first started to write a daily note that talked about companies and macro developments and what was going on in this short bullet format, that was my first intro to all the different companies, the players. The internet was just starting. This is 20 something years ago, but reading Dan's stuff sort of opened my eyes to the companies, the business, and, "I got to get to Houston more and I got to meet these people and I got to meet that." So it's hilarious that three of my five influences are sitting on the stage with me.
DP: The diplomat. You may talk as long as you wish. Tom, who would be influential?
TP: When I was 12 years old, my grandmother gave me a copy of a dictionary, and she said, "I want you to have this dictionary because you're going to have to learn to write," and you should know there's one word in this dictionary that's my favorite word of all the words that are in the dictionary.
When I was stepping into this adventure called retirement or whatever it is, I said essentially this to many of my partners and colleagues at Petrie Partners. I talked about her favorite word for my grandmother was perspicacious. She said, "That's the most important word in my life." And you need to be ready to persevere in the face of obstacles on this adventure in life and use that to judge who you interact with, how you interact, how they can help you, how you can help them.
And it came back to me. I didn't think about it a whole lot more for another decade and a half, but then as I started that adventure, having come home from time in Germany and then Vietnam and starting as an oil analyst who didn't know too much about it at the time, I decided that I'd keep that in mind. And this whole adventure for the last just under 60 years of dealing in this great industry that we are all part of, I've been guided by that time and time again.
My first employer founded Colonial Management in the heart of the Depression, and when I left after only two years working for the firm that managed endowments for MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] and Dartmouth [College] and a number of mutual funds, he stayed with me for another decade, coming ...from Boston down to New York, and a series of others.
But most importantly, that inspiration from my grandmother who, when she qualified after graduating from high school in Northern Vermont, she took a test and was able to become a teacher. She came home and her father who'd walked down from Canada with his total capital, two draft horses to clear land and then have a farm, and she told him that she'd just been able to become a teacher at the age of 18, but she wasn't sure she wanted to do that. And he said to her, "Let me tell you something: you are going to do that. You're part of this family. You're going to help make something happen."
And that was that perspicacity that she then wanted me to think about. You look it up, you have to really look, because you get one version of the word and then there's all the other adjectives and adverbs and so on and the usage of it. But overcoming, pursuing your goals in the face of obstacles is critical.
Harold's whole story is about that. I just finished his second book, and his optimism about what can happen in the face of that. I commented to him, "I feel today that we're celebrating the last 50 years." But I think there's a really reasoned case, not a crazy case, that the next 50 years, the role of our industry in overcoming that energy poverty that is still rampant in the world. The role we can play with the system, if we respect it, that has served us well for more than two centuries can really make a difference.
TP: One word.
HH: Well, Tom meant he's got to read my book.
DP: Copies in the lobby.
HH: Yeah, hope that bails us out. With me, Chris mentioned passion. Passion for this industry, and for me, that came about in high school, came about from John Frank's that had Frankoma Pottery, and he'd go around talking to a lot of kids in high school and talk about passion. You need to really find something that you can be passionate about.
I looked around and I was in the middle of a boom, actually, in Oklahoma, and when I graduated in high school, it was 1963, 1964, so I looked around at home Champion Petroleum. I decided that, "Wow, I want to do a study about petroleum and find out."
So I did that for a thesis in my DE class, and I just got my arms wrapped around this industry, and I loved it then, and I decided that's what I wanted to do, and I've never wavered from it. I love this industry. It's been really good to me and my family and we've done well in it.
But when I look at all the people, all the people, all those 50 people, one of the reasons I got involved in this industry was because of the people. They were so generous. In Oklahoma, they built everything. They've done so much. And I like the excitement of it too. They're so charismatic. I couldn't wait to get involved in it.
It's all those people that I learned from, the mentors. They took a young kid like me and you just ask the questions and they'd answer them, so give so much of their time, effort, energy, and so I tried to model my life after a few of them: Larry Nichols in this crowd, here. And I can't say enough about Larry just been such a great example to me over time. It's just tremendous.
But a whole lot more. Tom Petrie's one of them and a lot of the people that we meet, so it's all about people. And this is the greatest industry in the world, and I love it today as much as I did the day I got in.
DP: Let's give this panel... Harold, Tom and Chris, thank you for your time. I think we're going to finish right there. That's a great spot to end on, and I think we'll now turn it over back to [Hart Energy CEO] John [Hartig].
2024-01-08 - Here’s a roundup of the latest E&P headlines including the second biggest deepwater gas find of 2023 and new contract awards.
2023-12-18 - Here’s a roundup of the latest E&P headlines, including approval of an amended development plan for the Hebron Field and new decommissioning rules.
2024-01-11 - The Norwegian Offshore Directorate provided updates on 2023 activity, including 14 wildcat discoveries and eight projects going online and urging exploration in frontier areas.
2024-01-16 - The Port of Corpus Christi is the U.S.’ largest energy export gateway and in terms of total revenue tonnage as increased midstream investments have opened export markets for the prolific Permian Basin.
2024-01-19 - Guyana’s economy is expected to grow 34.3% in 2024, exceeding growth of 33% in 2023, as an Exxon Mobil Corp.-led consortium ramps up offshore oil production, according to Guyana’s finance minister Ashni K. Singh.