On a special episode of Columbia Energy Exchange, guest host Dan Yergin and Ryan Lance discuss the state of the oil and gas industry. Dan is the Vice Chair of IHS Markit. He is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Prize and a member of the Center on Global Energy Policy's advisory board. Ryan is the Chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips and has more than 32 years of experience in the oil and natural gas industry. Ryan is a petroleum engineer and has served across a wide range of executive assignments at ConocoPhillips including responsibility for international exploration and production, technology, downstream strategy, integration, and regional responsibilities in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and North America. 

Dan and Ryan sat down in front of a live audience in April at CGEP's 5th annual Global Energy Summit. They discussed opportunities and challenges facing the oil and gas industry including, the outlook for global oil supply, regulation in the U.S., climate change and geopolitical risk across the world.

read the transcript

[00:00:00]

Jason Bordoff:  Hello and welcome to the Columbia Energy Exchange, a podcast from the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University.  From New York I’m Jason Bordoff.  Today we are bringing you a special episode of Columbia Energy Exchange with a special guest host this is a conversation that took place at our 5th annual Columbia Global Energy Summit in April.

 

A conversation between Ryan Lance, the chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips and Dan Yergin someone who needs no introduction to all of you who study and follow the energy markets and are probably listening to this podcast.  He's the Vice Chair of IHS Markit author of the Pulitzer prize winning book The Prize, and especially importantly for us a member of the Center on Globe Energy Policies advisory board.

 

Dan and Ryan sat down in front of a live audience on the Columbia campus to discuss the state of the oil and gas industry and some of the challenges and opportunities it faces today.  Few companies have played as important a role in the changed U.S., energy outlook as has Conoco, not to mention its operations in other key energy regions of the world from Asia to the Middle East to South America.

 

It was a highlight of the global energy summit, I have a change to hear Ryan talk about the companies views on the outlook for global energy supply, how they are approaching regulation in the U.S., how they are approaching actions to address climate change, and they view Geopolitical risk across the industry and the world, not to mention many other issues.  Ryan was also a key note when we launched the center five years, so it was especially meaningful to have him return five years later to help us celebrate our anniversary.  Here's that conversation.

 

[00:01:40]

Dan Yergin:  Hello, everybody, Ryan welcome back --

 

[00:01:44]

Ryan Lance:  Thank you --

 

[00:01:45]

Dan Yergin: --after five years.  Jason said a few words about the center I have to say as somebody who's been –was here five years ago and has seen it develop, it’s a really -- I’ve seen its worldwide impact.  It’s convening power, quality with its research, great credit to CIFA to Dean Gano which is of course the home of the center for the support of the center.  And it’s flourished under the CIFA banner and it’s really had a global footprint and continues to grow and develop and so I just have to say personally it’s been great to be an advisory board member.

 

And Ryan so we're back here, Ryan of course is one of the leaders in the global oil and gas industry.  I was thinking, Ryan if this was not the 5th anniversary, but the 10th anniversary, the U.S., would have been producing at that point five million barrels a day.  The day we were here five years ago it produced about 7.2 million barrels a day and today it’s producing about 10.4 million barrels a day.  So, that's a lot of growth, how do you see that growth?

 

[00:02:55]

Ryan Lance:  Yeah, so thank you Dan and Jason, thank you as well.  My congratulation Dean and Jason to, a wonderful five years it’s been pretty action packed over the last five years it’s been pretty action packed over the last five years, and I can't imagine how fast it will evolve over the next five.  So, we're thankful for the institution and thankful for Columbia for hosting it, you’ve done a remarkable job.

 

Yeah, Dan so it’s a, yeah its interesting five years ago you are the back cast and said if you were Rip Van Winkle -- yourself and said where -- I’m going to wake up five years from now would you ever imagine you’d be in a place you are today.  And I don’t think many people back five years ago would have done that especially with the revolution and what's going on in North America and the United States in particular with the Shale Revolution.

 

As you said this year now the prices have gone through a pretty dramatic down turn and the way I put that in perspective for people to think about is imagine losing 70% of your revenue over six months time as a business, that's what our industry went through in 2014 into 2015 as this down turn took hold.  Now as things have recovered, technology, innovation has taken hold the Shale Revolution is alive and well.  And this year probably the growth in terms of total liquids would be in the order of 1.6 million barrels per day.

 

So, if you compare December of last year to what we project December of this year to be that total liquids production just in the United States will grow 1.6 million barrels a day, plus or minus a little bit that's remarkable.

 

[00:04:23]

Dan Yergin:  So, what's been – I mean as you said lost 70% of your revenues obviously things have bounced back, what's generated this – what's happened in terms of the technology and the learning to enable this?

 

[00:04:35]

Ryan Lance:  And that's what has been really remarkable about the industry, so where we've been known or the mantra for the oil and gas industry is a low tech industry.  You have the picture of the rate, give the people on the Rig forward throwing the chain around all that, but that's as far from the truth today as it ever been at all.  And so now we're drilling wells that will start from this spot here and go two miles underground at the -- you know, 10, 20,000 feet underground and exploit some of the resource from a very small footprint.

 

So, some of that technology today -- this intersection of horizontal drilling, hydraulic fracturing that is unlocking resources out of rock that is hard as this stage that we're sitting on today.  And that's truly been remarkable and it hasn’t stopped, and it’s going forward there when you're thinking about data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning.  You know our industry like many industries around the world are starting to scratch the surface there as well.

 

So, despite the progress we made over the last five years we ought to see that move exponentially again over the next five and 10 years, which is what I think makes the business so exciting.

 

[00:05:38]

Dan Yergin:  You know, Jason mentioned that obviously there’s controversy – we're in New York State about this – you know the technology very well what is that people don’t understand about the technology in terms of the environmental debate about?

 

[00:05:53]

Ryan Lance:  Well, I think it’s a – you know, there is a – the energy can undermine the world today, is about how do you get affordable, reliable, cheap energy to all four corners of the world, yet understand we have to do that sustainably.  And we have to do that with the environment in mind, we have to do with safety in mind.  We have to do with both personal and process safety in mind as we think about that.  So, the operating integrity of our business is pretty important.

 

I think what people don’t appreciate is how much the growth and development the United States has gone, how much we've added to the global supply to keep energy cheap for really the whole globe and in particular for North American and the United States.  And we've been able to do that against the backdrop of declining emissions, declining methane emissions, declining CO2 emission.  We're getting better at our water footprint.  We're recycling much of our water that we use in the process that we're doing.

 

And just the actual footprint at the surface is reduced dramatically as we're able to institute some of this long reach horizontal drilling technology.  So, it is a much more sustainable business today than it was five, 10, 15 years ago, and it will continue to get more sustainable as we go in the future.

 

[00:07:07]

Dan Yergin:  Well, if you – I mean it is striking if you put it in geopolitical context U.S., has gone from importing 60% of its oil to importing about 20%.  And in fact the U.S., have become export as well.

 

[00:07:19]

Ryan Lance:  Yeah I think that was – that was a seminal moment in our industry, because we looked at five, six, seven years ago, we saw what this unconventional revolution was doing in the United States.  And the one thing that would get in the way of making us realize our full potential was the ban on export crudes from the – from North America.  So, that was a huge event in our industry was to eliminate the ban, let the free market work.  And let us start supplying affordable reliable cheap energy at all those four corners of the world, and in fact that's what's happening today.

 

Two million barrels a day of exports and our imports have dropped dramatically and what's that mean that means cheaper fuel prices at the pump, cheaper electricity for your home to heat and clear your homes around the United States.  So, I think that's added a lot of economic growth to – to the GDP sitting in the United States today, so we're having a huge impact.

 

[00:08:11]

Dan Yergin:  With that kind of growth if it continues what kind of constrains in terms of people pipelines..?

 

[00:08:18]

Ryan Lance:  Yeah, I think the next challenge for our industry will be some of the regulatory environment and it will be the infrastructure.  It will be being able to move the energy, generally from the center part of the United States out to the coldest part where it’s needed.  And they will say, heresy it probably is getting natural gas, ultimately you would hope past New York up into the north east part of the country where people can start getting oil fuel, burning fuel oil.

 

And getting them burning a more sustainable product called natural gas that has a lower carbon footprint than what they are burning today.  And I think that's the restrictions that we place in terms today its getting that infrastructure permitted, built and in place to move the products around the United States to the demands centers, and then to the coast to be exported out to the rest of the world.

 

[00:09:07]

Dan Yergin:  Is one state maybe what about Texas, I mean a lot of growth in Texas and…

 

[00:09:13]

Ryan Lance:  No, there is, so Texas is going through remarkable growth.  A lot of the geology is conducive to a lot of what you're seeing today, it started in the Eagle Ford in the upper Texas gulf coast.  And now its moved into a big way into the Permian Basin where there is a tremendous amount of resource and a tremendous amount of growth that will occur over the next five years.  And part of the issues will be getting the crude oil out, getting it to the market, getting it to the export channels.

 

It will be dealing with the associated gas, getting gas pipelines out of there into the demand centers around the United States into the export facilities and then giving it to the global community.  That's a challenge specific to Texas today, because there’s a tremendous amount of growth going on in the Permian Basin, because this technology is just unlocking a tremendous amount of resource.

 

[00:10:03]

Dan Yergin:  So, we're here in New York of course the center of the financial industry and different kinds of constrains, different type of demands from shareholders, in terms of capital discipline, which maybe wasn’t there before the price collapsed.  How does that affect growth expectation?  How does it affect how people run companies?

 

[00:10:23]

Ryan Lance:  Yeah, I think the – this whole revolution, the resources rich constrained I think our belief and we said back about five years ago, looked at our company, looked at our plans, looked at our portfolio.  We saw what was happening in the unconventional space.  We saw the growth coming.  And again back -- this is at a $100 oil when we're making some of these decisions, is that when you look over the last 15, 20 years in the E&P the Exploration and Production side of the business it wasn’t a very profitable business for investors.

 

We typically spend a 100% of the cash flow that we have or more and put it back into the ground to further and develop and grow our production.  And some of the returns weren’t meeting the hurdles certainly the SNP500 and some of the other investment choices and options that shareholders have today.  When we looked at outer head we saw an abundance of resource coming in the world, we saw potentially mid cycle prices moving down.

 

We saw a lot more volatility coming into the business today, because this unconventional production that we're getting out of the U.S., we can bring it on pretty fast.  We can throttle back pretty fast.  So, we're seeing a declining mid cycle, we're seeing lots of more volatility, shorter time between peaks and valleys and you have to change your portfolio to deal with that, and you have to deal with the issue that your returns aren’t good enough.  So, you have to start executing capital discipline.  You have to do in the best of the opportunities that you have in your portfolio and more importantly you got to test it against the low side cycle and the price tags.

 

So, we'll watch you doing work at a $40, $50 world, as well as, in a $70 or an $80 world, because we think we're going to see that kind of volatility in our business and as a company we decided we didn’t want to chase that volatility.  Add a bunch of people in rigs and processes you go up, only to have it cut it down on the down side, maybe one or two years later.  So, we're tried to build the company that works through the cycle through the portfolio that can manage at $40 and $50 is easily as we can at $60 and $70.

 

And I think that's starting to manifest itself in higher returns, I think it’s starting to get noticed a bit in terms of the market and share holders …

 

[00:12:28]

Dan Yergin:  And be demanded of other companies, yeah.

 

[00:12:30]

Ryan Lance:  I think it will, so the – it was a lonely place and we talked about this kind of a value proposition, a returns focused, work through the cycles, kind of value proposition.  But now more and more companies are coming to that space just because they see it’s a well supplied world, yes demand is growing, but the supply is growing as well.  So, you have to be dealing – how do you deal fundamentally with a volatile price tag that you have to -- again we're not priced, markers or price takers, we take from the market and then we have to deal with that volatility.

 

[00:13:01]

Dan Yergin:  So, you came up with this term sustainable capital?

 

[00:13:05]

Ryan Lance:  We did, I think the important thing in the E&P business and the business that we're in is what is your sustaining capital and consequently more importantly your sustaining price.  And what I mean by that is how much do you have to invest into your portfolio to a minimum hold your production flat?  So again we're declining resource, it’s a natural decline.  We always have to invest money to grow our production grow our cash flows, but the real critical number is how much capital do you have to invest in your business to at least hold it flat.

 

And then what price does it take to fund that kind of a capital program and fund your dividend or your returns to your share holders.  And if you can drive the price would you get enough cash flow coming into the company to afford that capital program and your shareholder distribution.  You want to drive that price down as low as you can and today in our company we've driven that down to $40 a barrel.

 

So, what that means is at $40 a barrel I have enough cash coming in to the company to afford a capital program that will at least keep me flat for a long, long period of time, and it will fund my dividend to my shareholders.  And that's an important thing to do in a cycling commodity business where the volatility is and the cycles are getting shorter.

 

[00:14:18]

Dan Yergin:  So, in one sense you are somewhat are contrarian in the sense that I think people in this room some have written and talked about this obsession with the Permian Basin.  Permian I think it’s been duped, but you don’t seem to be quite caught up in that, you're looking at other places.

 

[00:14:39]

Ryan Lance:  Well, you know, we believe in a global diverse portfolio, so we operate in 17 countries around the world.  We have a large operation in Alaska, Canada, U.S., Fort Lauderdale.  We're operating in Asia.  We have business in Europe.  We have a business in the Middle East.  So, we do believe in a balance sort of global diverse portfolio, for a company of our size we also have a large Permian position as well.  And I think there’s people here in this room today from my business that even have a bigger Permian positions that are important in their portfolio.

 

And it’s going to be a huge resource and an important basin for decades to come, but you know, it’s quite expensive to do business today.  We're getting inflationary forces in the basin.  I talked about the infrastructure constrains to evacuate the product we have from the basin.  Now those things will work through.  There will be capital that will be attracted there to deal with those issues, so it’s not like it’s going to become like a trapped resource, but it’s a tremendous resource for our country.

 

But as we sit with our company today we do believe in a global diverse portfolio and I think has benefited in our company…

 

[00:15:42]

Dan Yergin:  So, what are the areas?

 

[00:15:44]

Ryan Lance:  So, Alaska today about you know, 12%, 13% of our production Canada, both in the unconventional and in the heavy oil, U.S., is a big part of our company.  It’s about 40% of our company.  We're active in all the unconventional plays.  We're active in the Permian.  We're active in the Eagle Ford and Niobrara and Bakken, names you might hear in our business.  We have a big business in Europe, both in the UK sector and the Norwegian sector and have a large business in Asia.

 

We've been in China since it opened up in the 70s.  We've been in Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia and we have production coming out in the Middle East.  So, we're pretty balanced across the United – and across the globe.

 

[00:16:22]

Dan Yergin:  And how do you see the LNG business?

 

[00:16:26]

Ryan Lance:  You know, I think we have a similar view to a lot of people in the LNG side.  It’s an over supplied market today.  So, it’s a buyer’s market, so the buyers are being able to demand lots of terms and conditions from the suppliers, because there was a lot of projects that were built over the last decade that have now come on.  But the demand is growing, primarily in the Asian side, China in particular, India growing as well.

 

So, we see that demand catching up with the oversupply and eliminating that differential sometime in the next decade, probably 2022, ‘22, ‘23, ‘24. So there will be more investment needed in green field LNG projects both here in the United States and around the world in order to meet that growing demand overtime.  But the projects do take quite a bit of time to execute, so the cycles in the LNG business are still quite wide.

 

So, we go through valley and peaks and troughs and those are probably six, seven, eight years in terms of time frame.  Will you be oversupplied for a period?  Then no, no projects will get built.  Demand will catch up.  There is a – the price will have to --  price has to rise in order to incentivize those projects to be build and we see that cycle coming again probably early in the next decade.

 

[00:17:38]

Dan Yergin:  Right, so I’d like to ask you about two emotive words regulation and reregulation and they are both used in very broad senses as though the whole world is changing.  Can you kind of pass it for us and actually your business what's happening in regulation or when we talk about deregulation what's been deregulated, what's been not regulated additionally and just how to think about it.

 

[00:18:05]

Ryan Lance:  Yeah, so I put the regulation, deregulation there’s already even this discussion that we're having as a country now and I put it kind of into three buckets.  In the first bucket I will tell you is the – what the industry is doing.  You know, we are working hard to self regulate ourselves we're not about lowering the floor.  We're actually about raising the floor.  We understand that it is our license to operate in the world and we have to do that sustainably.  We work under local, state, federal regulations global regulations as well.

 

So, this isn’t an industry that's trying to eliminate all the regulations.  So, we are about policing our own, we do that through API, through the associations that we're members of and try to get everybody to follow all the recommended practices that we think are the best for our industry.  So, it is about raising that floor, second I think it does have to be a balance between cost and the benefit.  We have to look at regulations and say are they worth.  And let me give an example here.

 

So, at the end of the last administration and this is the way we've gotten to Washington D.C there are over a 190 new regulations, promulgated on our industry alone in the last 10 days of the prior administration.  And that's because --

 

[00:19:15]

Dan Yergin:  A hundred and ninety.

 

[00:19:18]

Ryan Lance:  A hundred and ninety and that's because they could through executive orders, so a lot of what you're seeing today is an unwinding of a lot of those that didn’t make a lot of sense and were an unnecessary burdens on business, and let me give you an example for the people who doubt what I’m talking about.  So, I was having conversations with the EPA and we were talking about methane regulations.  And we actually as an industry -- we're agreeing to regulating methane emission on new facilities going forward.

 

The question became what about existing facilities and there’s 1000s of existing facilities across our country and it would have been impossible for the EPA to regulate that in a cost benefit way that made sense.  We agreed to do that voluntarily.  We agreed to implement a lot of those regulations voluntarily as industry whether it’s a FLIR of cameras checking for volatile or fugitive emissions of pipe lines whether it was tank catches being open.

 

And at the end of the day they said no, we're not going to go do that even though industry was ready to -- and submit the third party validation of that.  So, it’s just an example of over reach by the regulatory side that really at the end of day wasn’t going to achieve the objective that they wanted to achieve.  You could actually get there through a voluntary program much quicker, much cheaper and actually get more done out of that program.

 

So, that's a second area, third area I’ll just say is durability that concerns us with the way that we're making policy, the way we're running regulations right now, are we concerned about the durability.  If you can whip some that fast between administrations that doesn’t make a lot of sense for business as we go forward.  So, those are the three areas I’m talking about regulations that we're trying to impact and the conversations we're trying to have with the regulators.

 

[00:21:05]

Dan Yergin:  And so what do you see ahead?  I mean we have…

 

[00:21:08]

Ryan Lance:  Well, unfortunately I don’t know if we're going to get a lot of hope in dealing with those kinds of issues.  I think we do see a – we do see some progress.  I think the question for us is going to be on the durability.  Can we – depending on what – whoever – what administrations in the White House next or whose controlling congress, it’s just important for business.  We're making very long-term decisions.  We make investments and we don’t get cash flow for three, four, five and in some cases 10 years.

 

So, the stability, predictability and durability is really an important concept for business in general, but in particular for our business.

 

[00:21:45]

Dan Yergin:  So, out of that 190 are most still in the factor?

 

[00:21:49]

Ryan Lance:  Most of them have been unwound.

 

[00:21:51]

Dan Yergin:  Right.

 

[00:21:52]

Ryan Lance:  Of course in the last two years.

 

[00:21:53]

Dan Yergin:  Right, so you mentioned long-term investing we've got to ask you, a well known institutional investor sent out a letter saying that companies – managements need to think about long-term when they invest rather than short-term.  Do you think about long-term or short-term what do you, what's your reaction?

 

[00:22:12]

Ryan Lance:  Yeah, well I got my letter --

 

[00:22:14]

Dan Yergin:  It went out to a 1000 CEOs.

 

[00:22:17]

Ryan Lance:  Yeah, I think you know I kid with Dan a little bit on this particular point, I think our industry is the poster child for long-termism, and I just described we're making investments today that we may not see cash flow for five or 10 years from today.  So, we make very long-term investment.  We are very active in the communities that we operate in.  A lot of our philanthropic dollar on our – you know, our donations what we talk to, to make sure we're sustainable in the communities.

 

We like to be involved.  Our people live in the communities where they work.  And so we're very active in that kind of realm.  You look at -- socially we pay -- our industry pays quite well.  You can be a blue collar, high school educated individual and earn a six figure income.  And probably have a 401(k) and a retirement plan in our business today.  So, when you think about sort of that full sustainability of this business from employees to the communities that we work in to the long-term investments they were making I think we checked all of Mr. Fings boxes.

 

[00:23:18]

Dan Yergin:  So, you’ve given the name away, yes.  There are several questions here about climate change, the oil and gas industry ConocoPhillips, maybe start with the other form of shareholder demands not in terms of capital discipline, but on climate issues.  How do you see that – experience that?

 

[00:23:40]

Ryan Lance:  Yeah, I think that the – when we call the ESG issues the Environmental, Social and Governance issues they are not going away.  I don’t know where they will be 10 years from now, but there will be certainly more – more conversations about that as we go forward in time.  And I think again it’s about delivering affordable cheap energy to all four corners of the world, but doing that and sustaining that, I think as a company we've engaged in this conversation for a long time.

 

We were actually part of the Waxman-Markey bill for cap and trade, you know, 15 years ago.  We were part of – trying to do that, so we understand the impact that it has and how we need to think about it as a company.  So, we think about how do we reduce our emissions?  We're one of the few E&P companies that have set an emissions target.  So, our commitment to our shareholders and to the public is to reduce our greenhouse gas intensely over the next you know, 20, 30 years substantially.

 

So, we understand we've got to be doing that, we understand we have to be sustainable.  We're addressing water issues making sure that we can clean up the water, reuse the water that we use and pumping the down the well for the hydraulic fracture stimulations that are leading this renascences.  So, we understand that we have to sustain.  We're trying to lead and participate in that conversation as a company and recognize that it’s important, not only to shareholders, not only to our employees, to me, but also to the general public at large.

 

[00:25:03]

Dan Yergin:  On the water recycling question, since you mentioned it came up, what about – how much water gets recycled, a couple of people asked that?

 

[00:25:12]

Ryan Lance:  Well, it’s a – it’s quite a lot I think in the Permian Basin today for every barrel of oil that's produced that's four barrels of water that's produced.  So, it is about recycling that water, reusing that water, properly disposing the water in our business.  So, it is a very important thing to able to put the technologies in place to clean it up, reuse what we produce.  And again we don’t, we don’t take out of you know, drinkable aquifers.  We are taking salient water, deep -- deep in the earth out trying to figure out how to use that in our operations.

 

We don’t touch drinking aquifers that are down at 5000 feet into the ground.  We're talking about water that we're taking out very, very deep in the ground.

 

[00:25:56]

Dan Yergin:  Okay.  There are also a couple of questions here about the great slow down in the offshore and where the ConocoPhillips tends to be active in the offshore and the deep water.

 

[00:26:05]

Ryan Lance:  Well, we made a – again this goes back to the strategic decisions we made as a company when we looked at our portfolio.  We looked at the advances that we're making on shore in the Sun [phonetic] [00:26:13] Conventional Revolution we made decision as a company not to pursue the deep water – the deep water exploration and all that business.  We felt like it wasn’t going to be competitive.  It wasn’t going to compete for capital.  We think the world will need that as a supply source going forward to meet the growing demand in the business.

 

It just wasn’t going to compete for capital inside our company.  So, today we have no plans to go back into that deep water province.  We just don’t think it will be competitive with the rest of our portfolio.

 

[00:26:42]

Dan Yergin:  Of course what happens in United States is not in a vacuum, your thoughts about OPEC non OPEC your thoughts about geopolitical risk today?

 

[00:26:51]

Ryan Lance:  Well, I think you know we just – you read the paper and you see you know, missile strike in Syria, you see what's going Venezuela, you know, certainly not going well today.  We have production in Libya it’s been coming back following the over throw of the Colonel Gaddafi, but it’s been a slow – kind of slow--

 

[00:27:10]

Dan Yergin:  We do – we do have production there --

 

[00:27:12]

Ryan Lance:  Yeah, we have about 15,000 barrels a day of production today in Libya, so we're part of that.  The re-growth and the redevelopment of what's happening in Libya, so I would say you know -- I think it’s a pretty safe world today.  I don’t think there’s any you know, big, big significant existential threats out there.  But you have to monitor them pretty closely.  It doesn’t take a lot to jumble.

 

And I would call the supply and demand balance very thinly balanced in the world today, even though it’s a well supplied world it doesn’t take much on the demand side if we reduce demand a little bit, prices can fall down pretty rapidly.  We increase supply prices can fall down rapidly.  If we decrease supply due to some geopolitical events you can watch prices rise pretty rapidly as well.  Again this goes to this volatility that we're – that we think is in the business today.

 

[00:28:00]

Dan Yergin:  So, let me ask you about another kind of force that's working on the industry, new technologies, big data, artificial intelligence, block chain I mean where do those fit in the picture?

 

[00:28:13]

Ryan Lance:  Well, that's our next step function change in the business, you know, we can't drill a well on zero days, but we're getting pretty darn close.  And you know, the technology when you think about our operators out in the field with their hand held mobile device being able to interrogate all the data that they have to make decision, and how they do their job on a daily basis, think about how we're analyzing data today.

 

You think about block chain, data analytics, artificial intelligence machine learning, our industry just like many other industries out there are at the -- kind of at the front – front end of all that stuff.  And I think that's just going to be another revolution that continues to lower the constant supply, continue to lower the cost of doing business and being able to make our industry much more resilient.

 

[00:28:54]

Dan Yergin:  So, what does that mean in terms of the next generation, the people coming to the industry, what kind of people are you looking for and are they there?

 

 

[00:29:02]

Ryan Lance:  Yeah, I think STEM is still important, our STEM graduates are still very important for our industry.  And I think we need to have engineers, geologists, geophysicist we need to be training them, but they need to be incredibly data analytics and computer literate today, because an engineer coming out -- I was just meeting with my alma mater yesterday, talking about you know, talking to the dean, saying what do you think need to be thinking about for these next generation of engineers and geophysicists.

 

And they really need to have these data analytics skills.  They need to understand machine learning.  They need to understand artificial intelligence, robotics and some of these things that are coming down.  It’s going to put a big challenge on our educational institutions to start delivering these people because we're having to train them immediately with these kinds of skills in order to be effective in their job today.

 

[00:29:48]

Dan Yergin:  And so that will change – change the profile of the industry in terms of production output how it does things?

 

[00:29:56]

Ryan Lance:  Absolutely, again I think it’s lowering the cost supply, its making the resource more – the abundant resource more affordable, more competitive on the global scale.  And it won't just be the unconventional, it will eventually – it will go to the deep water it will go to all four – all different countries and all different areas around the – that produce oil and gas.

 

[00:30:15]

Dan Yergin:  Right, so Ryan let me thank you very much for coming back after five years the world does change and your perspective, and insights are very much appreciated, so thank you indeed.

 

[00:30:25]

Ryan Lance:  Thank you Dan.

 

[00:30:26]

Dan Yergin:  Thank you.

 

[00:30:29]

Jason Bordoff:  Thanks for tuning in to Columbia Energy Exchange and as always please take a moment to rate our podcast on iTunes and leave a review.  My co-host Bill Loveless and I read every comment and your feedback helps us improve the quality of Columbia Energy Exchange as we grow and move forward.  For more information about the podcast or the Center on Globe Energy Policy please visit us online at energypolicy.columbia.edu or on social media at Columbia U Energy.  We'll see you next week till then I’m Jason Bordoff.