Houston’s CERAWeek 2019: More D.C. and Tech, Less OPEC

Houston’s CERAWeek 2019: More D.C. and Tech, Less OPEC
Photo credit: Andaolu Agency

This year’s Houston-hosted CERAWeek event, “New world of rivalries: Reshaping the energy future,” made it obvious: The times they are a-changin’.

As U.S. influence over global oil skyrockets, IHS Markit’s CERAWeek 2019 saw historic increases in U.S. government attendees and record lows in Saudi, Russia, and OPEC representation - both confirmations that, thanks to the innovative shale industry, we’ve officially earned the title of world’s largest oil producer.

Foreign oil imports are quickly becoming a thing of the past for the U.S., after enjoying record growth in domestic production with oil output exceeding 12 million barrels per day. And tech companies are scrambling to get in on the action.

OPEC’s Scant CERAWeek Turnout

A sign of the changing times, OPEC, Saudi, and Russian officials were scarce at CERAWeek, showing the lowest attendance in at least five years. In stark contrast to years past, OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo stressed OPEC’s desire to collaborate with U.S. shale.

According to American Petroleum Agency President Mike Sommers, “OPEC is a less important player because the United States is the number-one producer of oil, natural gas and refined products.”

Pompeo Protective of U.S. Oil

Washington D.C. had some historic representation as well. The U.S. Department of Energy contingent attending CERAWeek was the largest on record, and Mike Pompeo delivered the first-ever keynote address by an active U.S. Secretary of State.

Pompeo emphasized our need to protect oil supplies and hold bad faith actors accountable.

“We’re not just exporting American energy, we’re exporting our commercial value system to our friends and to our partners… Our model matters now, frankly, more than ever in an era of great power rivalry and competition where some nations are using their energy for malign ends, and not to promote prosperity in the way we do here in the West. They don’t have the values of freedom and liberty, of the rule of law that we do, and they’re using their energy to destroy ours.”

In a private meeting with BP PLC, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron Corp. and BP plc, Pompeo and energy advisor Frank Fannon reportedly discussed strategies to boost foreign purchase of U.S. oil.

Amazon, Microsoft Boast Energy Tech Advances

Another sign of the shift, more and more tech companies are vying for a spot in oil and gas. As covered in my new book, Giant Shifts: Energy Trends Reshaping America’s Future, energy execs know that digitalization, AI, and automation throughout every stage - exploration through exportation - can increase safety, cut costs, and amplify output.

This presents a massive opportunity for established tech companies, startups, and digital investors alike. Exxon has teamed up with Microsoft, while Shell and Haliburton are excited about what Amazon can offer – including a data-storage assembly that Amazon submerged in water during CERAWeek to show off its durability.

Among this year’s over 4,000 attendees were leaders in energy digitalization, including Microsoft Corporation, Amazon Web Services, inRobotics Inc., MicroSilicon Inc., Aveva Group plc, Tachyus Corp., Siemens, and PrecisionHawk.

CERAWeek’s tech-focused sessions, grouped under “Innovation Agora,” covered everything from subsurface Cloud intelligence, robot inspections, AI-based software and digital twins, to integrated asset analytics, virtual reality, smart drones, and on-demand aerial intelligence.

Emerson execs showed up to demonstrate the company’s latest and developing energy applications, including its industrial Internet of Things technologies and novel organizational capabilities.

“Technology is transforming the global energy landscape, driving implications for how the industry operates, staffs and performs today and for years to come,” said Emerson chairman and CEO, David Farr.

You can learn more about how tech is transforming the oil and gas industry in Giant Shifts: Energy Trends Reshaping America’s Future.


Attorney Jimmy Vallee is an energy Mergers & Acquisitions lawyer, oil and gas industry commentator, and frequent resource for media outlets including USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Oil & Gas Monitor and others. His new book, Giant Shifts: Energy Trends Reshaping America’s Future, released in May, 2017 hit #1 in two Amazon categories the week of its launch.
Connect with Jimmy at [hidden email]
Noted Energy Futurist” – Mensa AG 2016

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