Change In Industry's Future

That the natural gas drilling market has been slow wasn't much of a surprise to the audience at the 15th Oilfield Breakfast Forum in Houston. But, said Robert Parker Jr., president of Parker Drilling, "we're seeing activity really pick up in Indonesia." Parker said he doesn't expect gas prices to remain low for too much longer. "It has to change," he said. "It can't stay like this."

That the natural gas drilling market has been slow wasn't much of a surprise to the audience at the 15th Oilfield Breakfast Forum in Houston. But, said Robert Parker Jr., president of Parker Drilling, "we're seeing activity really pick up in Indonesia." Parker said he doesn't expect gas prices to remain low for too much longer. "It has to change," he said. "It can't stay like this."

Matt Simmons, president of Simmons & Co. International, re-emphasized the need for accurate data to forecast demand. "The idea that we don't have the data is just stunning to me," he said. Given the lack of solid export and production data coming from Russia, the former Soviet Union is a wild card in the world's energy supply, he said.

Marianne Kah, Conoco's chief economist, said she expects a shallow recovery from the recession that Alan Greenspan said was now over. "There is still a risk out there based on business confidence," she said, citing concerns over planned business investments in technology and hiring of personnel.

Panelists also considered the future of energy.
"Before Sept. 11, I thought nuclear was looking very promising," Kah said. Simmons echoed those thoughts, saying the industry needs to "embrace nuclear more than anyone anticipated."

Deepwater "couldn't be more important," he said, but "deepwater may not be the panacea so many believe it to be." These concerns stem from the steep decline rates associated with deepwater fields. With this in mind, he cautioned, new energy sources, like wind, take time to make a dent in meeting demand. "If it can't be nuclear and it can't be natural gas, it's got to be coal."

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