Energy executives at the Howard Weil Energy conference in New Orleans are fairly upbeat about the outlook for global oil and gas exploration, despite ongoing turmoil in the Middle East and Africa and the Obama administration's slow pace of issuing deepwater drilling permits.
Anadarko CEO James Hackett told investors during his presentation he was glad to see the Department of Interior issue its first permits last week and expected his firm would get approval to get back to work in the Gulf of Mexico by the second half of this year.
"American consumers are suffering from high gasoline prices," Hackett said in an interview following his presentation. "The quicker we get back to work the in the Gulf of Mexico—which is an oil province—the better off we all will be."
It has been nearly a year since the BP disaster off the coast of Louisiana resulted in a prolonged deepwater drilling moratorium. Anadarko held a minority stake in the ill-fated Macondo well. But BP has maintained that as a partner, Anadarko should shoulder part of the costs of the leak and the clean-up, which could run as high as $40 billion.
"We continue to be in a position where we have a cordial relationship with BP," Hackett said about the continuing legal wrangling. "We understand we have a legal dispute and we're continuing to play out that process."
The dispute with BP has not dissuaded him from the importance of deepwater drilling for the United States, particularly in the face of supply risks in the Middle East and North Africa.
"What we've got to do is get $4 gasoline lower, and the only way you get lower is more supplies," Hackett says. "We are eager to do it, we need to get the right safety systems in place,"