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New practitioner faculty revive energy courses

Dan domeracki and Chris Vlahoplus

By Stephen Arbogast

The UNC Kenan-Flagler Energy MBA program is very pleased to report that two courses, The Business of Oil and Gas Exploration/Production (the Upstream) and Strategy and Value Creation at the Energy Firm (Energy Consulting), are back in the lineup for the 2019-20 academic year.  Both courses were not offered last year due to faculty retirements.  Even better, the faculty recreating these courses are accomplished professionals still working in their fields.

The Upstream course is now taught by Dan Domeracki, vice president of government, industry and corporate stewardship at Schlumberger. Dan comes to us with 43 years of experience at the world’s premier oil field services company.  A geologist with a master’s degreefrom the University of South Carolina, Dan has worked in numerous Schlumberger business lines while undertaking foreign assignments in Calgary, the U.K.  and South America. His current position entails responsibility for Schlumberger’s government and public affairs along with its global economic, social and governance stewardship reporting. His work has involved extensive involvement with major oil companies, government agencies both here and abroad, NGOs and major environmental groups.

Dan’s approach to the Business of the Upstream emphasizes the connection between evolving technology for finding/producing oil and gas, and the commercial realities critical to doing so profitably. Oil and gas companies live or die depending upon such factors as their ability to gain access to prospective acreage, their success ratio for discovering commercial volumes, the volumes producible from their successful efforts, the cost structure of their production assets and the fiscal terms negotiated with resource owners. Dan’s course takes students inside these critical success factors, showing how geologic assessment, 3- and 4-D seismic, and various approaches to drilling into discovered reservoirs can yield cash flows sufficient to grow the firm profitably. Students hone their skills in cash flow modeling, economic framing of different projects and project risk assessment are honed in the process. Finally, Dan takes up the various environmental externalities facing this industry segment, discussing how good operators assess these and manage their operations to minimize impacts.

The Energy Consulting course will be taught by Chris Vlahoplus, a partner at the Scott Madden consulting firm for over 20 years. A civil engineer from the University of South Carolina, Chris also has a master’s degree in nuclear engineering from MIT and an MBA from UNC Kenan-Flagler. After starting as a Duke Energy nuclear safety engineer, Chris moved to Scott Madden where he has run both the energy and the clean tech/sustainability practices. Consulting for more than 40 companies, his assignments have focused on electric generation business management, merger integration, strategic and business planning, organizational restructuring, and management models.

Chris’ approach to energy consulting begins with a discussion of the types of engagements which consultants undertake for energy firms. After a general survey of the electric utility industry, Chris will focus on the major strategic issues facing that industry. Here he will emphasize the ways in which consultants can employ both their knowledge of the industry and well-honed techniques for strategic analysis and merger integration to add value.  Attention will also be given to the challenges posed by the unfolding energy transition and to how utilities employ consultants to assist them in dealing with their regulatory bodies. A separate portion of the course on consulting for oil and gas companies will be taught by Professor Arbogast.

The Upstream course is a core course within the Energy Concentration while Energy Consulting is an elective.