ConocoPhillips is looking for 2004 to be another good year for the oil and gas industry in Alaska. At the monthly luncheon meeting of the Kenai Chapter of the Alliance last week, Darren Jones, ConocoPhillips Vice President for Cook Inlet and Kuparuk operations made an optimistic forecast, "Just don't ask me to predict oil price and I'll be okay, but given where the industry is at the moment, we can use all the oil we can produce.
So we're working hard on our new projects on the North Slope and trying to maintain gas production here in the Inlet and I'm looking forward to having another good year like we did last year," said Jones. Alaska still has its challenges of remoteness to the markets for its oil and gas, which means the discoveries have to be large enough to overcome the added transportation to make production cost effective, "The thing that is going to make Alaska successful in the long term is continuous technological advancement and lowering development construction costs as we engineer new prospects and opportunities," predicted Jones. Another component of Alaska's future oil and gas industry will depend on attracting more independent oil companies to invest in the state as a means of sharing exploration, development and transportation costs and Jones said ConocoPhillips is always looking at ways of partnering and lease sharing to help that growth process.
Regarding getting North Slope gas to market Jones feels there is still a lot of work that needs to be done before that will happen but said that all the natural gas demand studies that have been done show that they will be need that gas in the Lower 48 and he believes that when the market needs the gas, the project will happen.
Another challenge confronting the oil and gas industry is the aging of its workforce, and Jones said that this is a great time for young people to be looking at a career with the industry, "It's a higher technology industry than most people may appreciate or be aware of at first thought, we have automated a lot our processes and our focus is to do more of that in the future. What always drew me to the industry was that is a big and important industry to our economy, so it's an exciting career and it's a global industry, and as we move from the age of oil to the age of gas there will be continuing changes and even higher tech to be developed than we can imagine today," said Jones.
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