James Hackett is on a mission to become an evangelist for capitalism and responsible fossil fuel development. He poses, with all seriousness, a rhetorical question that makes a lot of people of a certain political persuasion uneasy these days: Can God, free markets and oil mix?
Hackett knows a lot about oil and gas. He became chief executive officer of Anadarko Petroleum Corp. in 2003, taking charge of a sputtering bit player thought to be takeover bait and turning it into a respected deep-water driller with $45 billion in strategic deals. Then, at the top of his game in May 2013, he stepped down for what some friends called a shocking career detour: Harvard Divinity School.
On a recent day, Hackett the deal maker, whose stewardship included steering Anadarko through the bleak days of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico oil spill, is pondering a more academic worry. He’s a year away from completing his master’s of theological studies and needs at least an A-minus on a Spanish scripture exam.