Deloitte Oil and Gas LLC held a Conference on Dec. 10, 2008, in The Woodlands, Texas. Topics at the conference included a number of the challenges facing today’s global and domestic energy markets: * Oil and gas economic outlook * Shifting dynamics within the world of commodities * Challenges and opportunities for international oil companies * The expanding role of national oil companies * The future for downstream: How are market conditions impacting the industry? * Global exploration & production environment: Challenge to replace reserves * The future of the US Energy Policy Deloitte also unveiled two surveys at the conference. One was a survey of registered voters and their opinions about America’s energy direction. The other was a survey of oil and gas executives and their opinions on how to overcome today’s business challenges The survey of executives (which was based on in-depth phone interviews with more than 50 oil and gas professionals, most holding C-Suite positions at petroleum companies with annual revenues of $100 million or more) indicates there is a growing concern about the affordability and sustainability of oil and gas. It also showed that these executives believe in the viability of renewable energy. “Our sampling offers a fascinating view into how a group of senior oil and gas professionals feel about the key issues facing the industry,” said Gary Adams, vice chairman, oil and gas, Deloitte LLP. Most notably, Adams said, half of the respondents interviewed (53%) believe the US could run out of reasonably priced oil within the next 25 years, and a similar number (56%) think the world will run out of reasonably priced oil in the next 50 years. According to Deloitte, most of the group also feels that oil and gas will not remain the world’s cheapest energy source. Survey results indicate 71% believe oil and gas is today’s most affordable energy source, but only 23% think it will still be the cheapest source 25 years from now. “Clearly, the oil and gas professionals involved in our survey are starting to think about the nation’s transition to renewable energy and other alternative fuels,” Adams said. Interestingly about 75% of the executives surveyed believe transitioning away from the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels for transportation is an appropriate goal. Interestingly, 5%4 think the best alternative in transportation fuels is natural gas. Executives surveyed also are strongly concerned about America’s foreign oil dependence, with three in four claiming the US can realistically achieve energy independence, with 55% of them saying this could happen in the next 15 years. “Our sampling of oil and gas executives paints an interesting directional picture – one that’s at odds with the common perception that petroleum companies are reluctant to embrace serious change in how we produce and use energy,” Adams said. “In fact, more than half of the executives in our study felt that petroleum companies should work toward helping America transition to the use of more renewables and other alternative fuels.” These are interesting results, in part because they are a departure from the expected. Too bad more people won’t see the survey results. It would be nice if the facts about the oil and gas industry were brought out into the open. Who knows? They might actually encourage Americans to change their perception of “big oil.”