Christopher Smith

Christopher Smith

Baker Institute Advisory Board Fellow in Energy Studies
Office Phone: (713) 348-3118


Christopher Smith is the Baker Institute Advisory Board Fellow in Energy Studies. From December 2014 to January 2017, he served as the assistant secretary for fossil energy at the U.S. Department of Energy. In this capacity he led the DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy, including scientists and engineers working at 11 sites across the U.S. He also oversaw the department’s fossil energy research and development program (coal, oil and natural gas), the National Energy Technology Laboratory and the natural gas regulatory process, including liquefied natural gas (LNG). In addition, he was responsible for the U.S. Petroleum Reserves, the largest strategic petroleum stockpile in the world.

At the institute, Smith will work on energy poverty and energy resource development in developing nations, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. He will also expand on his interests in carbon markets and energy transitions and how policy can address concerns of local communities adversely affected by shifts in energy-use patterns. This builds on previous work he spearheaded at the DOE.

Smith joined the DOE in October 2009 and served as principal deputy assistant secretary for fossil energy and as deputy assistant secretary for oil and natural gas. During his tenure, he served as the designated federal official for the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, established by President Barack Obama to investigate the root causes of the Gulf oil spill.

Prior to his roles in federal government, Smith served in managerial and analytical positions in the private sector. Most recently he spent 11 years with Chevron and Texaco focused primarily on upstream business development and LNG trading, including three years negotiating production and transportation agreements in Bogotá, Colombia. Smith began his career as an officer in the U.S. Army and served tours in Korea and Hawaii. He subsequently worked for Citibank and JPMorgan in New York City and London in the area of emerging markets and currency derivatives.

Smith holds a bachelor's degree in engineering management from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Cambridge University.

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