Gulf Coast Section ELP: Program Series Examines the Energy Value Chain

The Gulf Coast Section (Houston) chapter of the SPE Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) has dedicated this year’s program series to “The Rest of the Energy Value Chain.” What happens after oil is put in the pipeline? How is it traded, bought, or sold? How are oil and gas companies financed? What legal and political issues are facing the industry today? What types of management styles have led to individuals’ success? Basically, what happens past our small view of the energy industry, past our cube, desk, or rig? Young engineers spend 4 years in college and immediately start in a company training program to perfect their technical skills and knowledge, but what about the rest of the value chain that we never see?

In May, Brian Gahan of the Gas Research Inst. spent an evening with 50 young engineers explaining the recent developments in laser drilling. This technology is based on the Cold War “Star Wars” program, and it is the next potential paradigm shift in drilling. With the ability to drill monodiameter wells in a fraction of the current rate of penetration, the race is on to develop this next-generation technology. Who better to embrace this future tool than the leaders of tomorrow?

In June, Dave Gibbs discussed how to start an E&P company on the basis of his professional experience starting at ExxonMobil as an engineer and eventually becoming President of TDC Energy. He listed the business pitfalls that technically focused engineers often overlook when starting out on their own. Gibbs stressed principles such as “management eats last” when checks are cut, and explained what level of risk is appropriate for a startup. SPE members from all backgrounds, companies, and ages attended this 120-person event. Eighteen percent of today’s Fortune 500 CEOs are engineers (the 24 July 2001 issue of USA Today reported that 18% of the chief executive officers for the Fortune 500 companies earned bachelor’s degrees in engineering). With an eye to the business of energy, the ELP conducted a forum with representatives from the top 5 MBA programs available in Houston. Program Directors from the following schools discussed the merits of each program and how to determine which school is right for the individual: U. of Houston, Rice U., U. of Texas, Texas A&M U., and Tulane U. This spirited discussion among the program directors and SPE attendees was a chance to see beyond the polished brochures and flashy websites and into the vision each program director has for his or her MBA school.

Members of the Gulf Coast Section ELP.