Sunday, August 18, 2013

Strategic Decision-Making and Current Problems: An Online Course

Technological breakthroughs which have enabled companies to recover oil and gas that was previously unrecoverable have transformed the U.S. energy industry, and have helped lower dependence on imported oil. Some economists have predicted energy independence by 2020 (Citigroup, 2013, Energy 2020: North America, the New Middle East?). We can already see a change: in 2005, the U.S. imported 60% of its oil, while in 2012, only 40% was imported (U.S. Energy Information Administration, August 2013,

Understanding the opportunities and gaining knowledge of the multiple challenges that accompany the goal of sustainable expansion of oil and gas supplies (via exploration, production, transportation) and the appropriate / effective use of new technologies are vital. To that end, here is a course which one can take (open courseware), or receive certification and credit in an instructor-led e-learning setting (AAPG -- American Association of Petroleum Geologists). It can also apply toward an MBA with an emphasis in Energy Leadership (Texas A&M Texarkana). For information contact 

Energy Strategy, Technology, and Current Issues in the Oil Industry
Energy Overview / Current Issues in Energy

Learning Objectives: 
Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to list current issues that can impact growth and sustainability of oil and gas ventures. They will also be able to explain the reasons for the potential problems, and evaluate possible solutions. 

Who Should Take this Course?
This course will help energy professionals, investors, geoscientists, engineers, business owners, managers, and service providers a clear view of many of the issues that accompany the rapid expansion of oil and gas supplies. It will place them within a strategic context that will help identify specific opportunities, and also places where changes can be made.

The future of oil and gas ventures is complex due to a number of challenges facing the industry. Although demand for oil and gas remains high, especially in the new giants, India and China, complications have emerged, particularly in the U.S., where the “shale revolution” has resulted in an oversupply of natural gas, and plunging natural gas prices. In the meantime, lack of infrastructure in some of the major plays (the Bakken in North Dakota, the Eagle Ford in south Texas), has made it necessary to employ expensive methods of transporting liquids-rich petroleum such as hauling via truck and rail, vs. pipelines. Further, the lack of natural gas processing and transportation infrastructure (gathering systems, pipelines, compressors, conditioning) has made it difficult to get natural gas to market. Water management remains a challenge as well, particularly in times of drought and public sensitivity to environmental issues.

At the same time, enormous opportunities abound, primarily due to the emergence of transformational technologies, which have allowed previously unproductive and unproducible resources to be exploited. Further, new technologies are making it possible to return to mature fields and to recover oil and gas that has been left behind.

In order to make strategic decisions in all industries, it is very important to have an understanding of the issues facing the energy sector. 

Course Units (Issues):  

Select four issues, click on the links for access to the readings and course materials. Then read the materials and respond to the Guiding Questions by writing responses. Support your ideas with information from the readings and also by conducting your own research using reliable sources. 
1.  Current oil and gas exploration / production efforts hampered by insufficient cash / undercapitalization.

2.  Skyrocketing costs in energy technology. 

3.  Environmental challenges.

4.  Shortages of qualified personnel.

5. Bubble Economies and Carbon Economies / Fire sales and “vulturing”.

6. Alternative Energies: Easy-to-find, cheap-to-produce oil no longer exists.

7. Health and safety issues are increasingly complicated. 

8. “Green” energy must combine with oil and gas.

9. Geopolitical power shuffles.

10-11. Non-renewables are “dirty” and difficult; Renewables are expensive. 

12.  Global outlook: Sustained, worldwide growth. 

Susan Smith Nash, Ph.D.
- 2013 -

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