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Farmington conference to examine impact of low prices on oil and gas industry

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Farmington conference to examine impact of low prices on oil and gas industry

Event's goals are sharing ideas, strengthening industry

By James Fenton The Daily Times
Updated:   03/21/2015 04:36:25 PM MDT


More than 220 people attended a presentation by Ken McQueen, WPX Energy’s San Juan Basin director, in May 2014 about Mancos Shale on horizontal wells
More than 220 people attended a presentation by Ken McQueen, WPX Energy's San Juan Basin director, in May 2014 about Mancos Shale on horizontal wells in the San Juan Basin during the Four Corners Oil and Gas Conference at McGee Park in Farmington. McGee will be one of the speakers during the San Juan Basin Energy Conference taking place this week at San Juan College. (Daily Times file photo)

FARMINGTON — A two-day conference this week will examine the impact of low oil and gas prices on the energy industry.

Sponsored by the San Juan College School of Energy, Four Corners Innovations Inc. and the New Mexico Center for Energy Policy, a division of New Mexico Tech, the San Juan Basin Energy Conference takes place Tuesday and Wednesday at San Juan College's Henderson Fine Arts Center.

WPX Energy's new CEO Richard Muncrief is the keynote speaker. He will address the low prices the market is experiencing. Muncrief is credited with introducing greater efficiency for ConocoPhillips' San Juan Basin operations over his 13 years there.

Gov. Susana Martinez; F. David Martin, New Mexico's secretary of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department; and Dr. Michael Knotek, deputy undersecretary for science and energy at the U.S. Department of Energy, will be among the officials and industry leaders to speak at the conference.

Randy Pacheco, dean of the San Juan College School of Energy and the organizer of the event, said sharing ideas and strengthening the industry is the goal of the conference.

"This conference will provide answers to questions being asked, information from industry leaders, the opportunity to network and to better understand what's going on in the oil and gas energy field," Pacheco said in a press release for the event. "When we began planning this conference six months ago, we had no idea of the challenges that lay ahead. It is more important now than ever, that we share the information we need as an industry to continue to move forward and to strengthen our energy resources throughout our country."

Dr. Daniel Fine, associate director at the New Mexico Center for Energy Policy at New Mexico Tech, will lead one of the panel discussions Tuesday afternoon.

Fine said the conference will echo the current environment the industry currently faces in the wake of falling oil and gas prices. The reduced ticket price of $265 for both days, including meals — down from a peak price of $450 — is one way the event is a reflection of the times. Tickets were still available last week.

"(We are in) the down side of the cycle, and the conference will reflect that," Fine said. "There (will be) an atmosphere far different from the first conference in 2012. The conference will try to adjust to the current situation with discussion about the future."

Analysis of the impact of falling world oil prices, the market share held by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, and the geopolitics of world oil production will take center stage at the event, Fine said.

"I will offer a realist analysis, an objective analysis ... of the duration (of the current low-price environment) and share where the stabilization of prices might be," Fine said. "I will also discuss the conflict between OPEC and the U.S. shale oil producers."

A look at issues surrounding industry infrastructure like rail, pipelines and refineries, and the price negotiations between companies and their vendors also will be discussed, Fine said.

Ken McQueen, WPX Energy's vice president of the San Juan Basin region, said he will focus his message on the Mancos Gallup oil development and share his insights into improved operations and new technologies like a "walking rig" that alleviates the need to disassemble and assemble drilling rigs at the same well pad.

WPX Energy has sped up drilling time from 45 days to a mere eight days, thanks to improvements in equipment and experimentation with (drilling) bit technology and improved mud systems, he said.

"I'll talk about some of the best practices we've learned over the last few years," McQueen said. "You would expect to see some of these efficiencies at other places. We've done a lot of experimentation with bit technology and variabilities with bit design that allow us to drill faster. Improved time is a big metric in the equation that keeps us bullish on (the) San Juan (Basin)."

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