Dr Skinner is an internationally recognized energy specialist with a diverse background and career spanning academia, scientific research, government policy and economic regulation, international organizations and industry. Early in his career he developed techniques that led to discovery of diamonds in northern Canada. His career with the Canadian federal government's Energy Ministry included posts in environment policy, energy trade and oil and gas markets and price regulation. As Assistant Deputy Minister of Energy Commodities from 1985 to 1988 he played a leading role in the liberalization of Canada's energy markets and trade with the United States. He served as Director of the Policy office at the International Energy Agency at the OECD in Paris where he led the agency's work on climate and energy and led teams to provide energy policy advice to transition economies. In 1985 he left public service and joined TOTAL's gas and power group in Paris, and in 1998 launched their entry into the Canadian oil sands. Following TOTAL's merger with Elf, he set up his own firm advising companies on business strategy and served as Administrator of the Northern Pipeline Agency to advise the federal cabinet office on the proposed Alaskan Gas pipeline's transit across Canada. He was Director of the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies from May, 2003 to early 2006. He is a frequent commentator and lecturer on energy and geopolitics. He is a former Senior Research Fellow at St Antony's College, Oxford and an Associate Fellow of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) in London.
Robert resides in Calgary, Canada where he advises industry, governments and various international research institutes and foundations, and undertakes research on energy, particularly oil and gas markets and the challenges facing unconventional oil.
Robert has degrees in geology from Queen's University in Kingston (Hons BSc 1968) and the University of Washington in Seattle (MSc 1970, PhD 1971). He has held Directorships on the Boards of companies and of non-profit organizations.