Symposium Launches Bauer Prof’s Study for U.S. Dept. of the Interior

Published on October 15, 2008
Bauer College Director of Global Studies Tyler Priest lectures about the history of deepwater oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico.

Bauer College Director of Global Studies Tyler Priest lectures about the history of deepwater oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico.

Technology, environmental concerns, politics and economic concerns which have historically impacted the oil industry will determine the future of global consumption levels, a panel of industry experts said at a discussion in late October.

“All of the projections show oil will be the main source of energy,” said panel member Renato Bertani, president and CEO Thompson & Knight Global Energy Services.

Presented by the University of Houston Global Energy Management Institute, the event called “The New Golden Triangle: Comparative Perspectives on Deepwater Oil and Gas in West Africa, Brazil and the Gulf of Mexico” included a panel of experts that consisted of Bertani, UH Bauer College Director of Global Studies Tyler Priest and Mitro Consulting founder Tom Mitro.

Priest is heading up a new collaborative research project, sponsored by the Minerals Management Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior, to begin compiling the history of deepwater oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico. To launch the study and help establish the research agenda for the project, the UH GEMI held the panel symposium to reflect on the historical milestones and compare the major issues that have arisen in the world’s three major deepwater regions — Brazil, West Africa and the Gulf of Mexico — which have been referred to as the “New Golden Triangle.”

“The industry’s going to have to find new deepwater fields,” Priest said. Current offshore drilling is done at a depth of 1,000 to 5,000 feet and has been redefined as more exploration has been conducted over time, he added.

Previously, deepwater depths were considered to be 50 feet, Priest said. Despite being an expensive enterprise, the oil drilling industry employs new innovations to improve oil extraction and production. “There’s a variety of solutions being employed,” Priest said.

Understanding both the scientific areas of geological concerns and oceanic depths as well as the current political and economic climate of a country is vital in the oil drilling industry, the panel said.

In more recent areas of exploration, South America has also become an area of interest for oil reserves. West Africa, eastern Brazil and the Gulf of Mexico are prime areas that are receiving attention from major oil companies, such as Shell, British Petroleum and Petrobras. As a result, those areas of the world have garnered attention from political, business and technological changes.

“Brazil, in all likelihood, is going to become a major exporter in the next few years,” Bertani said.

The oil drilling industry is influenced by countries’ political situations, the panel said. Various African nations did not initially get involved with oil drilling and production, Mitro said. Warfare, political instability and lack of bureaucratic experience led to governments gradually being more involved in the oil industry as a way to change fiscal policies.

In South America, the politicization of a country’s population has led to changes in trade, as has been the case between Venezuela and the United States in recent years.

While trade between countries is affected by innovations and economic circumstances, oil is ultimately about production and consumption. “The old law of supply and demand,” Bertani said.

Click here to see the video of the symposium (Quick Time Player required to see the video).

By Mayra Cruz

About the University of Houston

The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.

About the Bauer College of Business

The C.T. Bauer College of Business has been in operation for more than 60 years at the University of Houston main campus. Through its five academic departments, the college offers a full-range of undergraduate, masters and doctoral degrees in business. The Bauer College is fully accredited by the AACSB International – the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. In August 2000, Houston business leader and philanthropist Charles T. (Ted) Bauer endowed the College of Business with a $40 million gift. In recognition of his generosity, the college was renamed the C.T. Bauer College of Business.