Long before the oil price collapse of 1998, the petroleum industry has been on a roller coaster ride that is not over yet. Despite the current high oil prices, slowly rebounding energy stocks and a general atmosphere of optimism, our industry faces a number of serious challenges in the coming years.

For one thing, our workforce is rapidly aging and enrollments in petroleum-related university programs are at record lows. So, we are facing an impending shortage of intellectual capital, which will impact our ability to make wise decisions. Knowledge management, therefore, must become a way of life, not just another buzzword.

Furthermore, energy companies are still not as consistently profitable as other investment alternatives in the marketplace. The oil and gas industry must leave no stone unturned in its quest for greater efficiency and productivity. New Internet-based IT architectures will be necessary to enable us to sustain and grow profitability, not just at $25 per barrel or $4 per Mcf, but at any price.

Part 1 of this paper explores the "people problem" and issues of knowledge management in more detail. Part 2 will describe an emerging IT infrastructure that promises to lower costs and maximize both efficiency and value industry-wide.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.