In the competition for markets, the U.S. oil and gas industry has turned the world upside down, surging to place among the top three countries in exports just a few years after re-entering the deepwater trade. In terms of coming to grips with the urgency of addressing and mitigating climate change, however, the gains have been much more modest. The industry must improve its position in the competition for capital and positive public sentiment. Speakers at the annual Energy Symposium held by the Price College of Business at the University of Oklahoma lauded the energy industry for its business accomplishments and exhorted leaders to step up environmental efforts by citing evidence that sustainable business is profitable business.
“The resource is there as long as we extract it in an environmental and economical way,” said opening speaker Dr. Mark Zoback, professor of geophysics and director of the Stanford Natural Gas Initiative at Stanford University “There is almost unlimited potential even if we are only drilling in areas where we are already allowed,” said Zoback. “Recovery of tight oil is still in the single digits [as a percentage of oil in place]. Tight gas is a little better. For the $77 billion invested, we are doing a bit better [than at the start of the shale era], but we have a long way to go.”
There was a strong, if unspoken, implication that the global energy market could move into oversupply. More producers of more molecules will be chasing demand growth that is changing quickly, and in some cases, already facing limited growth.