The United States has a better energy infrastructure system than other places across the globe, but it still has room to improve, according to the president and chief executive officer of ONE Gas.
Sid McAnnally was the featured speaker Wednesday at the latest monthly Friends of Finance Executive Speaker Series luncheon at The University of Tulsa. During the talk, McAnnally spoke about the importance that infrastructure plays in energy transfer.
ONE Gas, which spun off from ONEOK in 2014, is a Tulsa-based natural gas utility with 2.3 million customers and 3,700 employees across Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
“If you’ve got a tremendous resource, but you don’t have a way to transport it, you’re very limited in the impact that that resource can have,” he said. “We’re fortunate in the United States that we have about 3 million miles of pipe in our natural gas system.”
He said there are other countries around the globe that have shale gas, but they don’t have the same kind of pipeline infrastructure that allows them to move that resource. “You’ve got to have both sides of the equation. You’ve got to have the resource, and you’ve got to have a mechanism to move the resource,” he said.
From Thomas Edison to Henry Ford, the U.S. has an incredible history of innovation, McAnnally said. “This is what we do,” he said. “This is who we are. Don’t bet against this country in terms of innovation. We will figure this out.”
Domestically, McAnnally said, people are becoming much more aware of energy conservation and interested in sustainability. Renewable energy sources are growing in use, but hydrocarbons will not go away in the short term, he added. To that end, TU’s Collins College of Business announced the formation of the Center for Energy Studies on Wednesday. The center will offer an interdisciplinary study of public policy issues facing the energy industry.
During the question-and-answer portion of the discussion, McAnnally said ONE Gas is already using artificial intelligence, mainly for business functions such as accounting. “Just the mechanical grinding of our work – we want to mechanize where we can, so we can optimize the value of the smart folks that work with the company,” he said.
He added that it will be interesting to explore the role AI plays in customer support. “We have some customers who don’t want to talk to a person,” he said. “They want to go right to a menu. We have others who have to talk to a person. So how do we serve them in the way that they want to be served? I think AI is going to help us do that.”
He also called on students to be curious and to consume a variety of media – from books to podcasts – to become well-rounded businesspeople and individuals.
To learn more about TU’s Friends of Finance Executive Speaker Series and register for an upcoming luncheon, please visit utulsa.edu/fof.