This story originally appeared on Houston Public Media.
The IHS CERAWeek 2016 Energy Conference is looking at the booms and busts of the international oil market, as well as the industry’s stance on climate change. Ryan Lance is chairman and CEO of Houston-based ConocoPhillips, which is adjusting to the downturn by cutting costs and making business model changes.
“We’ve unfortunately had to make some pretty significant reductions on our personnel, as well. Those are terrible, those are hard to do. But you don’t want to over-correct. There will be an upturn, there’ll be a recovery in prices, and you wanna maintain capability as a company. So it’s really an opportunity for us as we affectionately refer to it as sharpening the saws — give that opportunity to the workforce to really enhance their skills.”
Fossil fuels will continue to play a big part in the world. But Ali Al-Naimi, Saudi Arabia’s minister of Petroleum & Mineral Resources, says hydrocarbons are not the only solutions to the world’s energy needs.
“I am a big supporter of renewable energy, particularly wind and solar — for Saudi Arabia, and for that matter, for Texas. But I believe a mix of sources is the best and most secure way forward.”
But while hydrocarbons are so widely used, Al-Naimi says technology should be further developed to help eliminate harmful emissions.
“The problem, really, is not fossil fuels themselves. The problem is the harmful emissions we get from burning coal, oil and gas. The answer is not to leave the world’s greatest, most plentiful and economic energy resource in the ground.”
Ryan Lance with ConocoPhillips says this business is cyclical, but he’s optimistic that demand will pick up.
“You know, I’ve been through six downturns and five upturns. There’s gonna be another upturn. The sixth upturn is coming! It will come, it’s just, you know, you can’t bet on it coming quickly and rapidly. You’ve gotta be prepared for it taking a little while longer.”
The IHS CERAWeek Conference continues through Friday.