Harold Hamm has Continental Resources Inc. on the move, in the board room and in the oil field.
Continental is well into its move to Oklahoma City from Enid, the company's founder and CEO said, although that has left employees scattered among a number of locations in both cities.
Hamm said Continental has increased communication to avoid any disruption to its operations.
“We want right now to over-communicate within our company,” he said. “That way we make sure nothing drops through the cracks.”
Continental also has hired an administrator to oversee the company's transition into its new home, the downtown building being vacated this year by Devon Energy Corp.
“We needed somebody concentrating on it full-time,” Hamm said. “That is a key piece of what we're doing for 2012.”
Despite the hurdles inherent in such a change, Hamm is intent on making sure the move from Enid does not stop the company from making good on its 2009 pledge to triple in size within five years.
“We're making sure that we stay in step with what we've already promised,” he said. “We're well on our way to doing that.”
Continental increased its production by about 40 percent to more than 75,000 barrels of oil a day in 2011.
Hamm said the company's ongoing transformation has been made possible by its concentration on oil production in only a few key plays, primarily in North Dakota's Bakken Shale.
He said the Bakken has become the No. 1 oil play in the world.
Continental boasts a growing acreage position there, with about 15 years of drilling inventory.
Things aren't so rosy for the industry as a whole, Hamm said, as low natural gas prices will cause some companies to struggle in 2012.
“There's a lot of natural gas to be developed in America, which is good, but you still get back to the market factors of supply and demand,” he said.
The United States has an oversupply of natural gas over the past handful of years thanks to new technologies and methods, so gas producers need to back away from some of their operations until prices improve, Hamm said.
Some have been resistant to doing that, exacerbating the problems caused by low commodity prices.
On the other hand, Hamm said domestic oil production is soaring.
U.S. production has fed about 58 percent of the country's consumption over the past couple of months, he said, after years of relying on imports for that much of its oil.
Hamm credited the Bakken Shale and other oil-rich plays for the boom in U.S. production.
Production in North Dakota recently reached 500,000 barrels of oil a day, but Hamm said he expects the state to yield 1 million barrels a day in the future.
“Production has just been climbing every month,” he said.
Such gains eventually could allow the United States to produce two-thirds of the oil it uses, he added.
“It's a different day, but it sure took a long time to get us here,” he said.
A healthy outlook
Hamm also continues to have high hopes for the Harold Hamm Oklahoma Diabetes Center at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. It bears his name after Hamm and his wife, Sue Ann, pledged $20 million last year to support diabetes research, treatment and prevention.
Infrastructure still is being developed at the center, but it does have an administrator in place in Blake Rambo.
“We've really made a lot of gains this past year,” said Hamm, who has Type 2 diabetes. “It's wonderful to see that go forward.”
Thanks to the Hamms' donation, the center has funds available to supplement the grants that pay for much of the research done there. That prevents research from coming to a halt when grants expire.
“That's just one example of some of the things we're covering that wasn't covered before,” he said. “You're able to attract the top scientists from around the world.
“You certainly don't want to lose one of them because of a lapse between grants.”