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Former BP-Vann Visiting Fellows

Ian R. Vann

Ian R. Vann

Ian Vann retired in 2007 from the position of BP's Group Vice President for Exploration and Long-Term Renewal responsible for directing BP's global exploration effort. A renowned oil exploration scientist, he joined the Princeton Environmental Institute for the fall of 2007 as the first BP-Vann Visiting Fellow.

Teaching Activities at Princeton: Fall 2007

ENV 311: Business of Oil and Gas

During his appointment at Princeton, Ian Vann devised and taught a class entitled "Business of Oil and Gas: A Global Perspective." The class was built around the central idea that petroleum has driven much of the evolution of modern society and underpins the transition into the globalization of economies around the world. It aimed to provide students with the essential tools to both understand the complex history of the oil sector and assess its possible future developments.

The course introduced principles of petroleum geology, from formation, migration to entrapment. It examined the history of oil exploration and reviewed current techniques employed, ranging from applied field geology to seismic imaging. The class adopted a historical perspective to discuss the business of oil and gas. It explored the emerging role of National Oil Companies and described current business models and strategies. Finally, the course outlined the main political and economic implications affecting the sector.

Ian Vann designed practical assignments to immerse students in complex decision-making situations. One assignment, for example, put students in the place of an oil company having to decide whether to go ahead with production on an oil field in Angola. It provided students with a detailed Production Sharing Contract model (in the form of an Excel Spreadsheet) with a number of uncertain parameters, such as future oil prices, the actual production profile, or capital and operation costs. In addition to exploring possible outcomes from the contract, students were also asked to account for the political situation of Angola.

In another assignment students were required to assess the non-technical risks associated with the purchase of a stake in a state-owned oil company in Pakistan. In so doing, they had to consider a variety of issues that could affect the outcome of the deal as well as the reputation of the company, including the security of workers, risks of civil conflicts, sabotage, the risks of renationalization or how to manage relationship with an unstable government.

The final take home exam challenged students to incorporate material covered during lectures and critically apply their understanding of the topic on news related questions about (i) Kazakhstan and Caspian gas pipeline (ii) Implications from new oil discovery in Brazil (iii) Climate change: Linking Bali and Washington.

Class enrollment consisted of 21 undergraduate students of which 7 are sophomores, 10 juniors and 4 seniors. Students represented a broad range of interests. The students with declared majors are from the sciences (Engineering (7) Geosciences (3), Economics (2), Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (1)), Public and International Affairs (2), Anthropology (1) and Sociology (1).

Seminar on Oil Reserves in the Middle East

While at Princeton, Ian Vann participated in the Oil, Energy, and the Middle East lecture series, where he gave a seminar entitled "Can we make sense of Middle East oil reserves?" In his lecture, Mr. Vann presented the current understanding of oil reserve accountability. He explained the factors that affect oil recovery and described new techniques used for enhanced recovery. The lecture related these efforts to the economics and politics of production in the Gulf and elsewhere. It presented some of the nuances in risk perception between National and International oil companies and the implications for reserve accountability.