Category Archives: Article

My Experience at CERAWeek 2017

I recently attended CERAWeek 2017 which took place in Houston, Texas. This annual gathering drew more than 12,000 attendees including energy industry leaders, experts, government officials and policymakers, leaders from the technology, financial, and industrial communities – and energy technology innovators.

My attendance was part of the Agility delegation that included several senior-level representatives from various parts of the Agility enterprise including Project Logistics, Tristar, GIL Abu Dhabi, and Agility Africa.

With innovation and technology at the forefront of CERAWeek, the conference offered several panels that discussed issues that face the global oil and gas industry, namely: the relationship between energy and the environment, the future of manufacturing, technology and infrastructure, economic challenges and price volatility, and the future of LNG exports and its impact on world markets.

Darren Woods, Chairman & CEO of ExxonMobil, joined the “Global Oil Dialogue” by sharing his interest in emerging technologies and reducing emissions. According to Mr. Woods, ExxonMobil has been focusing on innovative technologies that are environmentally friendly with the understanding that there needs to be a balance between the energy industry expansion and environmental policies.

Later that day, I attended a panel titled “Adapting to the New Energy Era” which focused on the oil and gas industry, specifically on how to do more with less. There was a lot of discussion concerning shale oil, and its viability in today’s market, mainly because of new techniques and technologies, reduced cost, and reduced production time.

Another interesting discussion took place during the “Energy Innovation Pioneers” panel. It is evident that innovations have been reducing the cost of renewables, and enabling the increased penetration into existing markets, such as the power sector, as well as new markets, such as transportation. On the panel was Thomas Healy, CEO of Hyliion. Agility is an investor in Hyliion and its promising technology that reduces fuel consumption by 30% for the trucking industry.

There was a lively panel discussion on LNG (Liquefied National Gas). The panelists discussed future forecasts, and stated that the demand for LNG will be doubling in the next 15 years, despite its plummeting demand due to excess capacity and low oil prices. With that in mind, industry leaders must look at LNG projects as an ecosystem that affects local communities as well as the environment.

In a related dinner address, Canadian Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau spoke about Canada’s energy sector. Canada has the third largest oil reserves in the world, and has three major pipelines under construction. These projects ensure North America’s energy security for many years to come. Canada is working hard to get ahead of the energy power curve, and it is actively preparing for the future while protecting the environment. According to Mr. Trudeau, environmental leadership and economic growth go hand and hand.

Finally, Agility Africa’s very own Geoffrey White joined the panel on Africa’s economic growth. In Africa, low oil prices have stimulated a focus on better execution and innovation. To be successful in Africa, Geoffrey said: “Local capacity is key. That’s why 98% of our people are locals. Our tech solutions in cargo visibility and analytics help de-risk Africa, opening markets to global business.” The bottom line is that there has been a slowdown in the flow of capital for major projects over the past two years. However, things are looking good for those who are willing to invest now ahead of the next surge, which is surely coming.

-Dan

British MoD Shows Our DoD How To Transform Defense Procurement

The “British MoD Again Shows Our DoD How To Transform Defense Procurement” by Daniel Gouré is on the mark. There is a lot DoD can learn from the UK MoD in terms of taking bold and innovative steps to improve procurement. Simply stated, the UK MoD takes a much more “partnering with industry” approach than DoD. The UK MoD looks for “win-win” solutions and truly engages as a partner for mutual success. Bottom line is: it works!

-Dan

Failing to Deliver on Increased Competition

Daniel Gouré once again hits the nail squarely on the head in his most recent Lexington Institute article “Better Buying Power 2.0 Failing to Deliver on Increased Competition.”

Simply stated, you can’t artificially create competition where it does not exist or where there is no incentive to compete.

On the other hand, you can create competition and reduce costs when you employ “win-win” solutions, much as Performance-Based Logistics contracts. The key is to make hard things easy, instead of making hard things harder. There is something to the “KISS” principle.

– Dan

Military Readiness Benefits from Use of Commercial Best Practices in Supply Chain Management

In Daniel Gouré’s recent article “Military Readiness Benefits from Use of Commercial Best Practices in Supply Chain Management,” he very appropriately links best practices, supply chain management, and Performance Based Logistics (PBLs). Each is important, but when you think in terms of applying all three to a given private partnership – then you are really cooking with gas. Unfortunately, more times than not, the powers to be within DoD fail to realize the full power of the triad. Yes, there are successes but we have to really commit to this smarter way of doing business. Change comes slow.

Read article here.

– Dan

Why Is It “Easier” For DoD To Cut Forces But Not Overhead?

Once again, Dan Gouré hits the nail squarely on the head with comments in his recent Lexington Institute article. There is no question that there are $billions that could be saved by DoD if they would get serious about adopting best commercial business practices. Reducing the overly burdensome DoD contracting and acquisition process would truly save $billions.

Also, as Dan correctly points out, DoD needs to get serious about Performance Based Logistics (PBLs) agreements. Using PBLs needs to be the rule rather than the exception. We all know that PBLs save money and are very effective in improving readiness, so why can’t we take it to the next level? Simply stated we can but “old school” thinking needs to be shown the door first. We need to accept that work which is not inherently governmental is a prime candidate for PBLs. There is no magic here: Mandate the use of PBLs and get on with it.

Read the article here.

– Dan

Logistician Christianson Retires from NDU

In the April edition of National Defense magazine, there is a short article announcing the retirement of LTG (R) Chris Christianson from National Defense University. Few if any logisticians have had a more profound impact on DoD logistics than Chris. He made all of us think more broadly, be more “joint” in our approach to logistics and always remember who we are ultimately accountable to – the soldier, sailor, Marine, and airman on point for our nation.

LTG (R)  "Chris" Christianson

LTG (R) “Chris” Christianson

Chris will be missed.

Read the article here.

– Dan

 

The Army’s Organic Industrial Base

AUSA’s recent article on the Army’s Organic Industrial Base strikes a chord with Army logisticians, past and present, and with the Army’s industrial partners. Clearly, this is a very important subject that is often overlooked at best and ignored at worst. Simply state, a viable industrial base is as essential component of any readiness and entertainment strategy. Thanks AUSA for highlighting the importance of the industrial base. Dan

 

Read AUSA’s article here

NDIA’s Year-End Review

As clearly stated in National Defense Industrial Association’s (NDIA) Year-End Review: Challenges and Opportunities for the defense industry in 2014 through temporary congressional fixes the DoD ship has been righted for the next two years anyway. There is still a lot of fence mending to be done if we are to get back to any degree of normalcy. So we have a workable short-term solution and that is good. Now we need to take the next step and get to a level of predictability that will work both the DoD and the defense industry.

I know that is asking a lot, but it is desperately needed. That is my two cents.

-Dan

See NDIA’s Year-End Review here.

NDIA President’s Perspective

In the most recent edition of NDIA, National Defense Magazine, NDIA President Larry Farrell nails the impact of sequestration on Defense. Larry correctly points out that it is the accumulative effect that must be considered and not just looking at individual services or weapon systems. Keeping a world class military ready to do the nation’s bidding is not something that you can just turn off and on. Short sighted actions like sequestration drive the services and the Defense Industry to take actions that, in the long run, will cost much more in so many ways. Larry, I hope someone is listening.

-Dan 

See Lawrence Farrell Jr.’s perspective here.

AUSA ILW Landpower Essay: Strategizing Forward

In a recent AUSA Landpower Essay (Strategizing Forward in the Western Pacific and Elsewhere), Huba Wass de Czege provides a broad brush of the AirSea battle concept as it relates to the development of a comprehensive strategy for the region. Now that is a mouthful. I knew Huba when we were serving in the Army and was always impressed byt he insights he brought to the big, tough questions faced by our armed forces. With regard to this excellent, very thought-provoking article, here is my comment:

What about logistics? In my opinion, leaving logistics out of any strategic conversation, is a mistake. 

-Dan

See Huba Wass de Czege’s ILW publication here.