Gordon Ballard is executive director of the whose members produce more than half of the world’s oil and more than a third of its gas.
READING My reading has focused lately on heroic exploration. Most recently it was by Andy Weir, which I liked because of the believable way it described surviving in that extreme environment. Before that I read a biography of Ernest , the Antarctic explorer, by Michael Smith, which I picked up after reading by Mitchell Zuckoff about an Arctic exploration looking for survivors of three U.S. military planes that crashed in Greenland during World War II. I got onto that because back in the 1980s when I was working in Africa as a field engineer, we used to come across old parts of planes that had crashed in the Libyan Desert during World War II. It was not until oil exploration that these planes were found.
LISTENING I continue my devotion to the vinyl LPs of my teenage years. I’ve kept them all — hundreds of them and several retro systems to play them. One is a 1970s Danish teak with a Garrard deck. Nostalgia is the smell of warm valves and analog sound. Most recently I put on Pink Floyd’s I also like listening to ’80s bands from Glasgow, where I’m from. Bands like and .
WATCHING It’s a German version of and just as gripping. “The Americans” is Soviets in America — this one is East German spies in West Germany. It’s full of espionage and deceit and a kind of sleazy, nostalgic Communist glamour. The music, clothes and locations are spot on. You can imagine watching it in 1983. I don’t know, maybe I have a fixation on the ’80s.
The last film I saw was It was full-on brutal, ultrarealistic — kind of like the opening scene from when they showed troops coming ashore on D-Day, but it just never stops. It’s well done but exhausting. I was glad when it was over.
FOLLOWING During the nine years I was in Africa, was the one thing you could pick up wherever you were. And that was kind of it. There was no Internet. Two-week-old copies of magazines were considered quite new. Now, of course, getting news is instantaneous. Back here in the U.K., the BBC News website is just as important for me — a source I can rely on to deliver a balanced, independent view.
For industry news, we get . What you see now with low energy prices is it’s made people more conscious of efficiency. We could learn a lot from other industries in terms of standardization. We’ve tended to over-specify equipment in the past. Lower prices have really focused the mind on how we operate.
TRAVELING I spent much of the 1990s in South America, so I always enjoy traveling there. Colombian music is recognizable other places but it’s just not the same as when it’s played in bars and clubs in Bogotá. And we adopted two babies when we were in Colombia, so there are great memories associated with South America.