By: Somdatta Basu, MBA Class of 2023, The University of Houston
IACCGH Shell USA Inc. Distinguished Lecture: Baker Hughes CEO Lorenzo Simonelli Emphasizes the Role of Technology and Collaboration in Achieving a Sustainable Future
Houston, TX: The Ballroom at Tanglewood was abuzz with excitement on April 4, as the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston (IACCGH) welcomed Lorenzo Simonelli, chairman and CEO of Baker Hughes, as their keynote speaker for the afternoon. The event was graced by the presence of Consul General Aseem Mahajan, representing the Consulate of India in Houston, as a special guest, and the audience was comprised of a diverse mix of business leaders, entrepreneurs, and professionals, all eager to hear Simonelli’s insights on the current state of the energy industry and its prospects. In his speech, Executive Director of IACCGH, Jagdip Ahluwalia said, “IACCGH has worked in coordination with the Baker Hughes team to bring Lorenzo Simonelli to this event, and we are excited to hear his thoughts on the future of energy and technology. We believe that his extensive knowledge and experience in the industry will provide valuable insights and inspire us to explore new opportunities for collaboration and innovation. We hope that this event will be a stepping stone towards building stronger relationships and achieving greater success between the US and India.” Rajiv Bhavsar, President of IACCGH, added in his welcome remarks that the event was long-awaited. Consul General Aseem Mahajan welcomed the audience and emphasized the strong bond between India and the United States. He highlighted the potential for further collaboration between the two nations, particularly in the energy sector, and praised the efforts of the IACCGH in fostering partnerships and driving innovation. Mahajan noted that India is among the youngest countries globally and is sitting on the cusp of immense potential and opportunity, despite the pandemic. The Consul General further pointed out the collaboration between India and the US in the field of energy, especially in new energy and renewable energy. He mentioned that India has already taken a quantum leap in these areas. “Many Indian companies are coming to Texas and forging partnerships. One of the biggest aspects of the collaboration between the two countries is the India-US Clean Energy Strategic Partnership. It is a broad-based partnership. There is no area in the field of energy that is not covered by it. We are in the planning stages of US commercial service, and IACCGH is also going to partner with us. We are trying to bring the best stakeholders, innovation centers, and labs here,” the Consul General added.
Simonelli’s reputation as a thought leader in the energy industry preceded him, and he did not disappoint. His speech was insightful and thought-provoking, offering a glimpse into the future of energy and the role of technology in shaping it.The Baker Hughes chairman and CEO emphasized the importance of the energy mix and how Baker Hughes is providing affordable, sustainable, and secure energy for the planet. “We are across the energy value chain, from exploration all the way to the delivery of an electron or the energy that you have in your home,” he said. He added that India is essential to Baker Hughes’ strategy going forward. Simonelli emphasized the importance of affordability, sustainability, and security in achieving a successful balance in the energy mix, which is now lacking, and the need to address climate change as a global threat. He shared some of the latest developments in the operations of one of the world’s largest oilfield services companies, particularly in India. He noted that Baker Hughes has been working with several Indian firms to enhance the country’s energy infrastructure and improve access to affordable and reliable energy. “India is a key market for Baker Hughes, and we are committed to supporting the country’s energy transition,” Simonelli said. He added, “We are investing in research and development to create innovative solutions that will help India meet its energy goals while also addressing climate change.” “We need to work towards putting the balance back, and the balance is fundamental to the growth of economies,” he explained. Simonelli stressed on three hard truths that the world must face: deploying technology at scale to reduce emissions, the obvious presence of hydrocarbons making it important to go after emissions and transition more to natural gas, and the necessity of collective partnership, dialogue, education, and understanding to achieve the objectives.He highlighted that Baker Hughes is committed to addressing climate change, with the core value of the company being sustainability. He assured the audience that the oil-field services giant is actively working towards reducing its carbon footprint and investing in new technologies to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions.”We believe that innovation is the key to achieving a sustainable future, and we are committed to being a leader in this space,” Simonelli said. Baker Hughes is investing in new technologies such as carbon capture and storage and developing solutions that can help reduce emissions across the entire energy value chain. He spoke about the importance of natural gas as a transition fuel toward a greener future. He stated, “We fundamentally believe that it is not the fuel source we should go after but emissions, if we transition more to natural gas, it is a good thing.” Simonelli discussed Baker Hughes’ three pillars of strategy: transforming what the company does today, being more efficient, and being better. He believes that over time, CO2 will become a valuable molecule, and a circular economy will be a reality where we live in harmony with natural resources.He is optimistic about the future of energy, with hydrogen playing a role in the energy mix. However, Simonelli emphasized that technology and people are at the forefront of achieving a sustainable future. “We know we must face challenges; technology is the answer, but we must also make sure we have the right people, the right mindset, the right partnership, and the ecosystem created,” he said.
The keynote speaker drew attention to the reality of needing an abundance of energy to move forward. “We at Baker Hughes want to be at the forefront and help the world achieve a greener future, affordable, sustainable, and secure energy,” Simonelli added.
The event was part of the IACCGH Shell USA Inc. Distinguished Lecture Series and Shell representative Donavan Casanave thanked the speaker and helped present him with a signature IACCGH elephant memento.