Expect no quick-fix solutions to America's energy crisis.
Executives speaking at Tuesday's Third Annual Oklahoma State
University Energy Conference couldn't even agree on what the
Despite ominous U.S. government projections of future natural gas
shortfalls, Samson Investment Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Stacy
Schusterman said new and emerging fields will allow production to
not only exceed future demand, but accomplish that at ever-lower
Simmons & Co. International Chairman Matthew Simmons challenged
such thought, citing decades of population and consumption data to
warn that most consumption forecasts may fall far short of reality -
even as he quoted 60- to 75-percent first-year decline rates from
"Steep initial production declines do not create sustainable
growth," said the Houston executive, author of the best-selling book
Twilight in the Desert.
Harold Hamm worried openly about long-term wounds to the energy
industry from misguided policymakers embracing alternative fuels,
all in a bid to lower carbon greenhouse emissions while boosting
America's energy independence and security.
"Some alternative fuels take almost as much energy to create as
you use," said Hamm, chairman and CEO of Enid-based Continental
While Simmons agreed, he said oil and gas executives must make
great changes in their business practices and strategies, equating
the industry's problem to a tightrope walker.
"We need a 'call to arms' to prepare for a post-peak flow of oil
and gas," he said, giving the world less than a decade to find a
solution to long-term needs.
Oklahoma Secretary of Energy Robert Wegener saw promise in
cellulose-based biofuels, which maximize the state's tremendous
capabilities in agriculture and energy.
State Department of Commerce Wind Development Specialist Kylah
McNabb touted the state's potential benefits under President Barack
Obama's targeted expansion of wind power generation.
But Wegener warned the power grid supporting these electrical
systems remains several decades behind the times - with existing
utility and regulatory structures making upgrades very difficult.
That represents just one element of a far bigger problem - the
energy sector's rusting infrastructure, said Simmons. Replacing just
70 percent of the aging support systems, from rigs to pipes, could
cost from $50 trillion to $100 trillion, he said.
"I've seen the industry saying 'we'll solve that problem,'" he
said. "We keep ignoring these things and now we're in the hole we're
Schusterman pointed to one area where the energy sector employed
breakthrough technology: tapping American and Canadian shale basins.
She said those drilling and refining improvements opened up new
sources of clean fuel estimated to exceed two centuries of demand -
an environmental benefit the industry has failed to capitalize on
with politicians, executives acknowledged - while dynamically
cutting the cost of delivering them. …