Some of the brightest minds in the oil and gas industry recently gathered in San Antonio, Texas, for the 2012 Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition.

Saudi Aramco’s Mohammed Al-Qahtani, vice president of Petroleum Engineering and Development, opened the general session on behalf of conference chairman and Saudi Aramco president and CEO Khalid A. Al-Falih.

"We must transform beyond conventional wisdom and apply, on a continual basis, an unconventional mindset to all aspects of our business. These include investment, technology, health, safety and environment and human talent."

Mohammed Al-Qahtani

Vice President, Petroleum Engineering & Development, Saudi Aramco

Al-Qahtani provided opening remarks to the panel session titled “Making Unconventionals Conventional,” which featured four industry thought leaders, including: David Lesar, president and CEO, Halliburton; Mark Albers, senior vice president, ExxonMobil; Timothy Dove, president and COO, Pioneer Natural Resources; and Steve Holditch, director, Texas A&M Energy Institute.  Each offered a perspective on the need to employ unconventional wisdom to the challenge of meeting the world’s ever increasing demand for energy. 

A few common themes emerged from the discussion: 

  1. The need for industry to better communicate to the public and key stakeholders the economic benefits of unconventional resource development.
  2. The industry’s continued commitment to environmentally friendly and sustainable development with regards to unconventionals.
  3. The need for industry to not only compete but also cooperate with more knowledge-sharing to advance technology and field development schemes.
  4. The global potential of shale gas and other unconventionals toward unlocking supplies of oil and gas around the world. 

Al-Qahtani noted that the petroleum industry has always risen to challenges in exploration and production and that the key to addressing these challenges has been the timely development and deployment of new technology. The phenomenal growth of shale gas production, for example, has been made possible by “out-of-the-box” technologies and practices, he said. 

He also emphasized that the conference was about more than shale gas, tight oil or other unconventional approaches. “What faces our industry is more than just modifying a conventional enterprise to be able to produce from unconventional sources,” he said. “It is not about an oil producer getting into shale gas. It is about transforming an entire industry and its various elements to operate in a new and dynamic environment.” 

Al-Qahtani, who serves as chairman of SPE’s Executive Advisory Committee, concluded his remarks by encouraging the petroleum industry to raise its sights and aim higher. “Our brightest era is yet to come,” he said.

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