Making Sound Decisions: Interview with Bill Haskett

In anticipation of the AAPG Fall Education Conference, Decision Strategy’s Bill Haskett talks about risk, uncertainty, and decision-making. He shares his perspective on the industry and the needs that exist right now.

1.  What is your involvement in the oil industry?  How did you get started? What do you do now?
I’m a geologist with a background in Finance, Organizational Development, and Emergency Medicine. I help companies, governments, teams, and individuals create, evaluate, and implement strategies and decisions in the upstream energy industry. I like to say that we build the bridge between science and business, but that sounds a bit lofty. Ultimately, in order to make things happen companies must be able to decide with confidence between competing alternatives, and in so doing, create a meaningful competitive advantage.

Bill Haskett AAPG Fall Education Conference

Bill Haskett

I started my career as an exploration and development geologist with Unocal Canada Ltd. in Calgary. There weren’t many of us in the office so we had to handle both upstream realms. 12 years later, in a massive downsizing of Unocal’s Calgary office, I was transferred to the Company’s Sugar Land office where I became the Sr. Financial Advisor for Worldwide Exploration and started to create a more industry based reputation for Risk assessment, Evaluation, and Decision Support. Unocal and I parted ways (happily) in early 2000 and I joined the then very small consulting company Decision Strategies. As Senior Principal – Energy Strategy, my team and I continue to expand our thought leadership, strategy implementation, and project support for companies and governments around the globe.

2.  You’re very respected for your work decision-making, risk, and uncertainty. What should geologists know about risk and uncertainty today? What they already know about Chance and Uncertainty is a very good foundation to help their companies succeed (we are trying to leave the word “Risk” for the Risk Management profession for negative financial and catastrophic events). The principles they have learned in resource evaluation and reserves assessment are applicable well beyond the rock and if used correctly can create significant competitive advantage for their companies and their personal career.

3.  How can geologists make better decisions?
First and foremost they need to recognize that there is a decision to make that is broader than drill it or don’t drill it. Successful earth scientists will recognize that we are in a business and that there is an opportunity for them to be involved with business decisions… and this demands that they embrace uncertainty and leave behind the bias inherent in advocacy approaches to decision making (“This is my interpretation… there can be no other worthy of investigation”).  One of the ways to do this is to examine what causes the poor results to occur… you have to figure out what causes the downside in order to avoid it. While this doesn’t create alternate hypotheses, at least a learning plan can be created to provide early warning of interpretation failure.

4.  What makes you excited about the industry right now?
While international unconventional activity is replete with “snake-oil salesmen” and “truthiness” watching and assisting companies to test and position themselves in plays has been fascinating. Watching the domestic gas industry turn from the expectation of LNG import terminals to consideration of LNG trains has been interesting too, although I don’t believe that the US will ever be a significant exporter of LNG.

5.  What area do you think most geologists tend to overlook in their training and professional development?
While most might think I’d mention some technical or calculation skill, they’d be wrong. The most critical aspect that most geoscientists ignore, to their loss, is the ability to stand up in front of a group of people and speak confidently, coherently, and clearly. Confidently communicating ones ideas while respecting the capabilities of the audience will give you significant competitive advantage over your peers.

Bill’s Course:  Tools and Tips for Unconventionals Assessment and Decision-Making October 17-18, 2013, Houston, TX.

New Event: Sign up today for the Reserves Forum and JCORET Course, Oct 31 – Nov 1, 2013, Houston, TX.

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