I am Mark Moody-Stuart. I am a geologist and a businessman who has worked with oil, gas and mining companies in ten different countries. I was formerly Chairman of Shell and of the mining company Anglo American, and serve or have served on boards of major companies such as HSBC and the Saudi state oil company Saudi Aramco. I have been involved with the United Nations Global Compact since its foundation in 2000 and I am Vice Chairman of its board.

I am particularly interested in the effect of resource extraction on developing economies – Depending on viewpoint people speak of the “resource curse” or “resource endowment”. What are the responsibilities of the companies concerned? In the best cases there can be a development partnership between companies, countries and citizens; in the worst cases governments do not serve their people and corruption diverts the revenue.

If something is going wrong, what should the company do? Withdraw or continue to engage? Alone, or in partnership with civil society? And what is the role for sanctions or ultimately military intervention?

In my career I have seen the results of all of these, and I have just published a book - Responsible Leadership: Lessons from the Front Line of Sustainability and Ethics - on some of the lessons I learned.

I'll be answering your questions from 12.30pm (5.30pm GMT).

Many thanks for all your great questions. Hard work! I am going to knock off now after my two and a bit hours, but I will take a look back tomorrow and see if I missed something I should not have.

Proof: http://imgur.com/pe6XXEL

Comments: 183 • Responses: 20  • Date: 

Frajer17 karma

At our current rate of using gas and driving how long do you think it would take for us to run out?

MarkMoody-Stuart25 karma

That is a very important question. We are not going to run out suddenly or in the near future. I expect that there is a limit to the amount of daily production which can be maintained for any length of time. The world is using about 90 million barrels a day now and this consumption is still growing. Consumption in Europe and now in the US is actually going down mainly because of increases in transport efficiency but is going up in the developing parts of the world (China, India and many others) so that overall consumption is going up by round a million barrels a day. We can probably increase production gradually to 110 or 115 million and hold that for many years. I suspect production will turn down somewhere in the middle of the century say 2040 or 2050, because other forms of energy will be growing and everyone will be using energy more efficiently. The world is not short of reserves of oil - present production comes mainly from what we call conventional fields. There is potential from oil sands heavy oil in Venezuela and now shale several times that of conventional. So I do not think we are going to run out. We will use energy more effectively, use other non fossil forms of energy and save hydrocarbons for making chemicals rather than burning them for transport. And all of that is dependent on what we collectively do about climate and putting a proper price on carbon. Sorry long answer but it is a complicated question.

Leachpunk10 karma

Hi Mark, thanks for doing this AMA!

How long do you think the world can depend on unsustainable resources that Shell has participated in providing? What kind of future do we have in this area as we continue to deplete the world of unsustainable resources? Have you seen any technologies from the companies and countries you've worked with that drive toward an effort of renewable sustainable resources?

MarkMoody-Stuart4 karma

I have tried to answer the "how long" question above. I think that China has realised that they need to do something about energy efficiency and energy use since they import such a lot. They are now he largest windpower users (I am on the advisory board of a privately owned Chinese wind turbine manufacturer called Envision Energy and they have some really smart ideas). China is also experimenting with a carbon cap and trade system and carbon pricing. I think that is a smart idea too.

fearsin9 karma

Hello Mark,

I think at the heart of the matter is how does a company whose primary objective is to maximize profits align that with governments or peoples objective of maximizing quality of life. Is this something you address in your book?

MarkMoody-Stuart10 karma

Yes. In the seventies, in the wake of a corruption scandal affecting the industry in Italy a man called Geoffrey Chandler drafted the first Shell Business Principles. I think they were advanced for their time, although we modified them in the nineties after the 1995 events of Saro Wiwa and Greenpeace/Brent Spar to cover human rights and sustainable development. The principles spelled out our obligations to our shareholders, employees, customers and society - what we would now call stakeholders. We said that our obligation to our shareholders was to give them "an acceptable return on their investment and to protect its long term value" This is not maximising profit and is I think absolutely compatible with the interests of governments and people.

MarkMoody-Stuart7 karma

I have lived and worked in Nigeria. Major companies certainly do use Nigerian companies in their supply chain and in fact would regard that as a contribution to developing the local economy. In Shell and other companies we would require such subcontractors to meet our own standards and not use them as a way of getting round problems. This often requires working with those companies to help themt raise teir standards so that they can compete with international competitors. But there can be problems relating to ownership of those companies and to whom the benefits actually flow. One of the mistakes we made in Shell when dealing with communities was to assume that the visible authority structure - often traditional chiefs - in communities reflected reality. We gave contracts to companies apparently representing communities when in fact the chief then hired in outsiders to do the work and the community do not actually benefit. So there certainly can be problems. When dealing with communities anywhere I think the resource industry needs to work with civil society organisations and the community to make sure that the governance structures are actually working in the community. The company cannot doe it itself s it is plainly an interested party. I give some examples in the book.

randomoutliar5 karma

Have you done any follow up to determine how much your version of events matches up with the local population? I'm probably going to buy your book, give it to Nigerian students, and ask them how much your account coincides with their experience.

I have had a few students in my office lamenting the apparent hypocrisy of how I teach ethics and the behavior of western companies and their subsidiaries in their home countries. Often, they laugh and explain how if they behaved they way we teach, they would be unemployable back home (even though the oil play, as a whole, is owned by large multinationals).

MarkMoody-Stuart2 karma

I will be very interested in their responses. I was talking last week to an audience which included Nigerians and others from east African countries where oil has been found. They did not seem to think that was the case, but maybe they were being polite. Where corruption is really endemic it is very tough to fight, but I think it is worth a try and Transparency International has developed some very good methods. The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative requires a signatory country to form an independent panel overseeing the process and this is already a big step forward.

Ogre4146 karma

Do you feel that the oil industry might have problems with its selection of workers due to its public image?

Due to the pervasiveness of "oil people bad, oil companies evil etc," do you think more responsible leaders avoid your industry for ones that have higher moral ground like medicine, which in turn causes the events which further damage the industry's public image causing a downward spiral?

Recent psych grad thinking about going into OH&S.

MarkMoody-Stuart9 karma

For much of my career into the mid nineties, although the oil industry had a mixed image (environmental damage, which can be limited, versus what many regard as a social good in te supply of the reliable cheap energy on which modern economies depend for everything including food) the trheat of climate change reared its head in the nineties (of before for some but for most of us in the nineties. That was when Shell and BP both acknowledged climate change as a threat. So the balance tipped somewhat against the industry for many people. But it remains and will remain for decades a fascinating geological and engineering challenge. My son who is mid forties is in the industry and we can still recruit engineers but not enough. If you think we have image problems try nuclear (which I think is a pity because nuclear has to be part of the solutions)! I think your ideas on health and safety are very sensible - that is need ed in any anad every industry and the skills are highly transferrable

Ogre4144 karma

I'm mainly interested in stress in the workplace, from what I've read, the oil industry can be a wild place, physically and mentally.

Where I live, which is anti-oil central, I think it's a shame that all people hear, listening to NPR in their VW Toureg, drinking out of a plastic Starbucks cup, is how irresponsible a company is whenever something goes wrong. The demands of the industry seem underappreciated, myself included.

If you were to say just one problem in the oil industry, what would that be? What kind of education is needed to be the person that can help solve it?

MarkMoody-Stuart4 karma

In the oil industry and in any industry we need people who as well as having the technical skills have an ability to listen to others, including those who they think are wrong or ill informed. There is normally a good reason why they think that way and it is not stupidity.

Moeabyss5 karma

Hello Mark,

I want to start off with thanking you for doing this AMA. My question to you sir is this; What do you believe the long term environmental effects of fracking will be? Are the stories from Josh Fox's documentary "Gasland" and it's sequel "Gasland Part II" statistical outliers of the process or will we find these problems commonly associated with fracking sites?

MarkMoody-Stuart6 karma

I believe that the issue with fracking is not what goes on down the hole and in the reservoir, provided the regulatory control over the standards is good - particularly cementing the casing. For the company's own protection there should also be a good based line survey on pre existing methane in ground water. Some of Gaslands footage was nothing to do with fracking. Having said that regulation in the US, being in the hands of the States, is very variable. Federal regs are much tighter - look at flaring from the Bakken shale. The problems are often to do with land usage, the continuous drilling operations needed to support production and the use of water in water short areas. The US is also unusual in that land owners often have subsurface rights which in most other countries belong to the government.

ha_ya8 karma

There's also the matter of what they do with the chemical waste left over from fracking, right? We just learned last week about chemicals from offshore fracking being simply dumped into the waters off California.

MarkMoody-Stuart4 karma

I had not seen this. It would be surprising because the Federal regulations are strict - normally stricter than the individual states.

zvrk1585 karma

Hi, thanks for doing this AmA. I've always wondered: did you actively choose to ignore all the human rights abuses your corporation was doing or did you get some kind of sick pleasure out of it?

Also, since you were a managing director during the time of Ken Saro-Wiwa's execution, how can you live with yourself knowing that nine innocent people were hanged because of Shell's lawyers and other Shell workers?

MarkMoody-Stuart19 karma

I and we did not ignore human rights problems. I was indeed in the top group at Shell at the time of Ken Saro Wiwa's execution and have thought about it a lot, including what we should or could have done differently. I have met Ken Saro Wiwa's son Ken since, so have certainly not tried to ignore it. Ken Saro-Wiwa and the others were hanged unjustly for alleged involvement in the murder of four Ogoni chiefs. Shell called publicly for a fair trial and for proper medical treatment and called for clemency. It was a surprise to me, to everyone I think, certainly to his daughter according to an interview she gave, that Abacha suddenly decided to carry out the execution. Withdrawal by Shell from Nigeria would not have changed that decision as the Shell operations were largely run by Nigerians who could not withdraw. And would it have been right for Shell just to withdraw and leave them. "Shell's lawyers and other workers" as you put it certainly had nothing to do with it. I have given more of the background and my views on it in the book. That sort of thing is not something anyone could forget and not lose a lot of sleep over.

Infernoo17174 karma

Have you ever found any other rare materials when looking for oil?

MarkMoody-Stuart8 karma

Nice fossils and nice structures in rocks. I still get excited by them. Was just walking for 3 days in the north of England Lake District with two geologist university contemporaries - and we could still walk, and with our spouses, although I am creaking a bit today as a result. But no gold. I suppose the most unexpected and unwelcome thing in the sixties was when we found natural gas instead of oil. Natural gas then had little value in remote areas. But now we can liquefy and transport it.

Paleoram4 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA

  1. I enjoyed your paper, "The Curse of Oil", with that in mind. Do you think there are any particular cautions companies should take to avoid "The Curse of Oil" causing strife in Mexico once PEMEX allows revenue-sharing deals?

  2. As fellow geologist, do you have any advice for a recent M.S. grad who's trying to get a job as an exploration geologist at an oil company? (currently stuck working as a mud logger)

MarkMoody-Stuart6 karma

Thanks. I think that many of the Pemex revenue sharing deals will be offshore where the problem of community expectations (as opposed to national expectations) will not exist. Where they are onshore, I do not think that there have been major problems with Pemex operations although the field development - from site preparation to drilling the wells was carried out by contractors such as Schlumberger. To avoid community issues I believe it is important for companies to work with civil society organisations to find what the needs of the community really are.

On you second question, well logging is good experience. After a while you might try to do a masters to upgrade your petroleum geology skills, depending on your present qualifications. And there is a lot of very exciting work in small exploration companies. Good luck!

AltaGrafica4 karma

Hi Mark, thanks so much for doing this AMA!

I am a young executive working for a multinational and I am trying to make my way up in the hierarchy of the company. In your experience, which three qualities do you consider a "must" for top level executive?

MarkMoody-Stuart6 karma

Do not just focus on the inside of the company but try to be open to outside ideas and listen to others, including critics, outside the company.

Cpt_squishy4 karma

My dad worked with shell/equillon/motiva in the early 2000s, I was wondering how many of these joint style ventures exist? And what is the benefit from having them versus a direct purchase or lease? Also, how do you see the change in allowable sulfur level in gas affecting production? Given that some crudes can be sulfur heavy do you think that will affect their pricing?

MarkMoody-Stuart4 karma

Thanks. Give your Dad my regards. The JVs came from the merger of company operations - Shell and Texaco and in the case of Motiva Saudi Aramco. So they were unusual and special cases. The sulphur has to be taken out to meet ever tightening environmental standards. As this increases costs, high sulphur and heavy crudes which need more treatment sell at a discount to light "sweet" crudes.

MurrayPhilbman3 karma

Do you consider a hamburger to be a type of sandwich, or an entity of its own?

MarkMoody-Stuart12 karma

A type of sandwich until the ration of filling to bun exceeds three and then it is something else.

philphan253 karma

What is your vision of the car of the future? Hydrogen? Electric?

Also, what is your favorite car?

MarkMoody-Stuart6 karma

I think electric will do very well when the battery cost is cracked which Mr Musk is having a go at. But I have always though that hydrogen fuel cells had future, although they have not made much progress for transportation. We worked at the onboard reforming of hydrocarbons into hydrogen in the nineties. My wide and I have driven various Toyota Priuses (Prii?) since 2001 when I was still chairman of Shell. Our first one is still going driven by our third son and with no change of main battery. They are beautiful pieces of engineering. For sheer pleasure and the education of my grandchildren as to what motoring used to be like I have a 1959 Aston DBII/IV Mark 3 which was built when I was nineteen and I thought then and still think is a beautiful car. I also have a 1951 Jaguar XK120. Neither gets driven very much, but they are beautiful bits of working history, including the fact that the spit large amounts of un-burned gasoline out of their exhausts. Engine technology ha moved on.

Spiritually_Obese3 karma

Have you met Daniel Yergin, and have you read his book The Prize?

MarkMoody-Stuart4 karma

Yes to both. And his next one The Quest - Energy, Security and the remaking of the modern world.. Both very good.

AltaGrafica3 karma

How do you think Oil prices trend will evolve during the next years?

MarkMoody-Stuart6 karma

Flat to gently up. But there can be downside surprises, although there is a floor as the marginal cost outside the large conventional Middle East Fields is around 80 dollars.

Jenology1 karma

Hi Mark,

I recently began my career as an offshore Field Engineer for a Service company. I got my background in Geology, hoping to get some field experience before getting an office position.

I am one of 5 women in my company that go offshore for long periods of time. I find it's a very male-centered workplace (as expected). I'm not sure if you have any thoughts on this matter, but do you see women playing a larger role in the offshore world of the oil and gas field in the near future?

For example I recently ran into a female rough neck and very few people took her seriously, do you think there will ever be an increase in women doing the more "manly" roles?

MarkMoody-Stuart3 karma

A lot has changed in the last thirty years. Back in the seventies there were still crazy superstitions about women working on offshore platforms, but those have I think long died, and there are many more women geologists, petroleum and reservoir engineers. It is still a pretty male dominated industry in parts but women are getting to the top. Cynthia Carroll, who was chief executive of Anglo American, a major mining company, started as a geologist with Amoco and mining tends to be more macho that oil and gas. She did a lot to increase the number of women in underground jobs in mining.

AltaGrafica0 karma

Hi Mark, thanks for doing this AMA!

What kind of advice can a Top Level Executive as you give to his sons / daughters that "normal" guy can´t?

MarkMoody-Stuart4 karma

I am not sure that there is anything different. Children are the same great pleasures and sometimes pains whoever you are. There is the difference that you can give them an extra help with a start in buying a house or starting a business if they need it. I have never asked anyone to give mine a job. My father said to me that all he had to leave me was a good education. Anyway Judy and I are on to grandchildren now. We have four children and thirteen grandchildren, so you can see that some people will think we are as irresponsible in that as in producing oil. But that is not how we see it!