ConocoPhillips CEO talks new strategies at Bartlesville forum
BY ROD WALTON World Staff Writer
Thursday, September 13, 2012
BARTLESVILLE - ConocoPhillips CEO Ryan Lance sees his job as captaining a really big ship through some fast-moving waters, carefully but resolutely changing directions.
“We’re not trying to take a supertanker and turn it over,” Lance told a Thursday brunch crowd at the Bartlesville Community Center. “We’re going to chart a course down the middle.”
The separation of integrated oil and gas giant ConocoPhillips into two independent companies earlier this year was the apex of a long-term repositioning started out of the wreckage of the financial crisis four years ago. The other half of that separation, Phillips 66, is now one of the nation’s largest refining, marketing, midstream and chemical firms.
The new ConocoPhillips is clearly the largest independent - purely focused on exploration and production - in the U.S., averaging 1.5 million barrels of oil equivalent per day. The five-year focus, Lance told the Bartlesville Area Chamber of Commerce forum, will be to grow 3 to 5 percent annually up to 1.8 million BOEs daily.
The growth will be mainly domestic in unconventional oil and gas plays such as the Eagle Ford and Bakken shales. ConocoPhillips has bought up about 700,000 acres since the end of 2011.
“We’re going to grow through the drillbit,” he predicted. “We’re going to try to grow organically.”
Organic growth is something new. The former ConocoPhillips, forged out of the 2002 merger between Bartlesville-based Phillips Petroleum Co. and Houston’s Conoco Inc. - previously expanded mainly via acquisitions such as the Burlington deal several years ago. ConocoPhillips moved its corporate center to Houston but still employs nearly 2,000 people at the support facilities in Bartlesville.
Lance is one of few ConocoPhillips executives who never spent time working in Bartlesville, unlike his successor Jim Mulva and Phillips 66 CEO Greg Garland, who spoke to the chamber forum only two days earlier. He was adamant, however, at how smooth the separation worked locally and how important Bartlesville is as a support function for the company.
“It’s gone remarkably well,” Lance said, adding that once the dust settled from the separation everyone from royalty owners to employees still managed to get paid. “We didn’t turn over any large rocks here.”
ConocoPhillips CEO Ryan Lance