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March 6, 2013

Modern energy: Facts and myths

NORMAN — As the United States navigates a volatile, uncertain and rapidly changing era in energy production and consumption, industry professionals and experts must identify key obstacles and seek creative solutions inside U.S. borders that will stabilize the nation’s industry, economy and future.

The University of Oklahoma Energy Institute at the Price College of Business attempted to illuminate the facts and address these complicated questions Tuesday in a day-long energy symposium on the OU campus.

Featuring three panel discussions combining researchers, industry executives and government professionals with keynote addresses by Gov. Mary Fallin and Adam Sieminski, U.S. Energy Information Administration administrator, the day was an intensive analysis of U.S. potential in tomorrow’s energy arena and the pitfalls it faces today.

The day’s panel discussions tackled such complex topics as the global marketplace, challenges and opportunities for the United States, and ultimately identifying a good strategy for the future.

Natural gas — as the nation’s leading potential for a domestically produced, clean, affordable energy resource — was a major talking point, with experts commenting on its impact on job creation, vehicle production and export potential. Experts in all three panels agreed that natural gas prices need to be adjusted to better reflect production costs, though the feasibility of modifying mass-produced consumer vehicles for natural gas consumption in the near future was debated.

Another universal theme was the enormous potential within the United States for independence and renewed power in the global market, with panelists emphasizing that popular understanding of waning resources is inaccurate and expressing optimism and excitement for the unknown potential within the industry given the nation’s natural gas resources and growing technology.

The single most prominent obstacle identified by more than 80 industry CEOs was policy regulations limiting production.

Panelists described how onshore pipelines are vastly more expensive than undersea pipelines, how permits for drilling/production are very difficult to acquire and how mechanical and equipment regulations and legislation directly conflict. Panelists tangentially named negative public opinion and misrepresentation of energy companies and extraction methods as a major contributing problem.

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