November 2008 President’s Letter

Landing on our feet
 It is a good thing that the oil industry is good at dealing with uncertainty. Risk is one of those things that are second nature to us, and right now, that capacity for dealing with risk and finding our way through it is coming in awfully handy. It has been quite a roller-coaster year for oil prices, and predicting where we are going to be in another 6 months, 1 year, or 5 years is a critical issue for our businesses. So what do we do? Deal with it. Make it work. Our bets are made and now we need to make the best we can out of difficult financial times.
 As I write this, oil prices are around $80 per barrel, down considerably from their earlier record highs. That is still a pretty good price, given that it has not been so long since we were pretty happy with $60 per barrel oil. The upside of the current situation is that it is going to create some opportunities to buy solid assets. Oil and gas are still irreplaceable commodities and we can juggle our future plans; if demand goes down now, it gives us a breather to regroup and prepare for the long term. If prices continue to fall, there will come a time to pick up some of those assets that hit the market at reasonable prices. There will be winners and losers in this market, but as an industry, we have a tendency to land on our feet, and I believe we will do it this time too.

Just for grins, I will buy a drink ticket at any HGS dinner or lunch for the person who comes closest without going over in predicting the price of oil at the close of business on March 31, 2009. Email your picks to me at
 This month at the General Dinner meeting on November 10th, we will hear Tucker Hentz and William Ambrose of the Texas BEG present a regional picture of the Woodbine Group. I am looking forward to seeing what they have pulled together.
 On November 17th, Brian Tucholke presents the annual Sheriff lecture. This is a fun annual event with posters from UH students and the presentation of HGS student scholarships, followed by the talk. The Northsiders this month will host Charles Fried of BP, with a new twist on mapping geologists, instead of geology. The Environmental & Engineering dinner will feature Bob Patton from the TCEQ speaking on dry cleaner remediation. 

The General Lunch speaker will describe mapping the Daisetta sinkhole, which appeared suddenly from the collapse of a salt dome and grew to enormous size, consuming cars and drilling equipment as it grew. 
 The public comment period for input on the new Earth Science 4th year high school science curriculum has begun. The proposed curriculum can be found at Please take the time to support our science by reading the curriculum and making your opinion known to the Texas State Board of Education by contacting your State Board Representative (find your board rep contact information by filling in your address at then going to the bottom of the page).  We need to strongly support the curriculum as it has been designed, and not allow the program to be diluted by pseudo-science. This curriculum design will determine the content of text books to be used in Texas, and will have a ripple effect because California and Texas strongly influence the text books that are used in schools across the country. So give your state Board of Education rep a call saying, “I like this curriculum,” (or whatever you think) and send constructive commentary on specifics of the curriculum to HGS member Alison Henning, who has been actively involved in the curriculum development committee.

November 2008 HGS Bulletin
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
From the President