Oil and gas are important to every aspect of our economy, yet the oil and gas industry is distinguished by its combination of increasing demands and decreasing discovery volumes--and it is an industry shrouded in an environment of extremely volatile pricing. Although the profits enjoyed by the oil and gas industry are enormous, the industry remains one of the most capital-intensive in a world where rising expenses continue to threaten to squeeze profit margins.
Geopolitics may continue to be the most important variable in maintaining existing assets and in successfully achieving new discoveries and carrying out their subsequent development. But finding new oil and gas reserves is becoming more challenging and the places where hydrocarbons are being found are more remote. Thus technology advances are also a key variable to enable exploration, drilling and development to become economically feasible in some of these more difficult operating environments.
For the last century oil and gas additions have exceeded demand but has this industry now reached a "peak oil" situation? Some experts argue we are on the cusp of maximum oil production while others suggest we are still about a decade away. Natural gas demand however, is rising at a slightly faster rate than oil. Natural gas may be the immediate replacement fuel for oil as a source of clean and efficient electric power generation. Three out of the top ten Fortune 500 companies were oil/gas companies in 2011.
This short introduction to the oil and gas industry will focus on history, operations, major companies, outside market forces, regulation and the current challenges the industry faces. Such factors as finite natural resources, the environment, economics, geopolitics, and technology will all come into play in the narrative. The book will demonstrate how the leaders of this industry, former champions of progress, are now coming under scrutiny and being depicted as the biggest culprits of environmental degradation. Yet the industry is likely to continue to grow until some form of alternate fuels is developed. The oil and gas industry will continue to have an enormous impact on life on the planet.