August 30, 2023

“We Need Everybody at the Table” Featuring Mayor Sylvester Turner, Mayor of Houston

Today we had the honor of hosting Mayor Sylvester Turner, the two-term Mayor of Houston, in the Veriten offices. Mayor Turner and a delegation of the city’s business and government leaders recently led a trade mission to West Africa visiting Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, and Ghana. Their mission focused on finding new economic opportunities for Houston companies in Africa, continuing to grow the cultural and civic engagement between Houston and Africa, and expanding opportunities for overall collaboration with African nations. We were thrilled to visit with the Mayor and discuss the trip and get his perspectives on how the Houston energy community and energy community at large in America can do more in Africa.

We start with some background from the Mayor on the impetus for the trip to West Africa. In the discussion, we touch on the difference in energy sentiment in developing Africa versus the OECD and how oil and gas is more often seen as a necessity for survival and development in the region. The Mayor highlighted in his remarks the receptivity of constituents in African countries for American businesses to invest with a focus on “win-win” situations. We touch on the lack of classic energy investment in the continent from organizations like the World Bank, the richness of resources in the region, supply chain needs from much of the developed world in a post-Ukraine environment, and a reluctance or lack of trust the region has in some countries (i.e. former colonial powers) in helping the continent prosper. We openly discuss the competitive advantage the U.S. has over other countries to pursue opportunities in a continent with a huge population, a young population and 40% of the world’s minerals. We mention the $2,500 per capita GDP that hasn’t changed in over 20 years and dig into the historical issues with getting investment to the region and why there is a struggle to fill the slots in trade investment missions like the one recently organized by Mayor Turner’s office. The Mayor emphasizes the need for the U.S. to recognize the opportunities in the African continent before it’s too late and encourages America to not leave it to countries like China and Russia to take advantage when the desire from the region is for relationships with the U.S. We transition the conversation to the importance of relationships – from the work between mayors in various cities to relationships across the many sectors necessary to help the region as well as relationships within administrations and the need to work across the aisle and the importance of valuing everyone at the table. We close out the discussion focused on the energy transition and the effect of these decisions on the people most impacted economically, how we can all work collaboratively to meet goals without creating winners and losers, why Houston is a positive place for business, and what’s next for the Mayor following the end of his second term in Houston. It was an exceptional discussion with an exceptional person. The Mayor always strives to have “everyone at the table” and we couldn’t agree with his philosophy more.

Mike Bradley kicked us off by highlighting several events that were topical last week and in coming weeks. From an economic standpoint, he highlighted that bond yields plunged on Tuesday due to a much weaker than expected JOLTS Job Openings report. He discussed the FED Chairman Powell’s Jackson Hole speech last week and that September’s FOMC rate decision would be dictated by near-term economic data. He noted that the UAW labor contract will expire on September 14 th and that it has serious economic, financial and political ramifications. From a commodity standpoint, he highlighted that crude oil prices have been stalled around $80/bbl. for the last few weeks. He also noted that crude “product” markets will be very focused on below average US product inventories, and the lingering effects of last week’s Garyville refinery outage, and this week’s damage from Hurricane Idalia. From an energy equity standpoint, he mentioned the post Labor Day Barclays Energy Conference and that it might provide an early look into E&Ps 2024 capex budgeting. He rounded out the conversation by highlighting ExxonMobil’s Global Outlook: Our View to 2050 that was published this week and also highlighted the extreme divergence over the last 20 years between Africa’s and China’s energy usage and per capita GDP. Jeff Tillery chimed in excited to dig into the discussion with Mayor Turner and to hear about the important role Africa will play as a huge driver for global GDP growth.

We hope you all enjoy the discussion as much as we did. Thanks to you all!

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