Suddenly abundant -- and surprisingly inexpensive -- natural gas is changing the U.S. energy game, resetting the board and revolutionizing the rules. At the same time, China’s ascendance as a top energy consumer is disrupting established energy markets. All the while, technology is stepping relentlessly higher, creating new opportunities and challenges with each innovation. And public attitudes about energy and the environment continue to respond to these realities. The third annual Vail Global Energy Forum, to be held March 1-2, 2014, in Beaver Creek, Colo., will examine these events, their consequences and directions that public policy should take going forward.
Such distinguished speakers as George P. Shultz, former U.S. Secretary of State, Secretary of Labor and Secretary of the Treasury; John Hickenlooper, governor of Colorado; Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), former chairman, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee; and David Danielson, Assistant Secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy, U.S. Department of Energy, will share their views about energy policy. Topics range from the state of the energy economy, to prospects for global energy security, to technologies for renewable energy.
The broad picture of U.S. natural gas resources -- the volumes in place and the percentage that can potentially be recovered -- will be painted by Jim Brown, president, western hemisphere, Halliburton Co. (NYSE: HAL). Tom Petrie, chairman, Petrie Partners LLC, will talk about the U.S. shale gas revolution and the economic consequences of U.S. energy independence.
The surfeit of domestic natural gas the U.S. enjoys today means that gas is taking on new and expanded roles in the nation’s energy portfolio. Dennis Beal, vice president, global vehicles, FedEx Express (NYSE: FDX), will share his view of the evolution of natural gas as a transportation fuel and David Montgomery, senior vice president, NERA Economic Consulting, will discuss economic impacts of expanding U.S. natural gas exports.
“We’re going to look at how much natural gas we really expect to be finding, how we should be using that natural gas, and the environmental, security and economic consequences of alternative uses,” says Dr. James Sweeney, director, Precourt Energy Efficiency Center, Stanford University, and a conference chairman.
Prominent speakers will also address the impact of the large-scale natural gas production on the environment. Clearly, in the combustion cycle, natural gas burns more cleanly than coal. “The question is: Are there other leakages in the system?” says Sweeney. “Is leakage sufficient to override the environmental gains made because the combustion side is cleaner?” Fred Krupp, president, Environmental Defense Fund, will speak about air emissions in the natural gas extraction, production and usage cycles. Noble Energy Inc.'s (NYSE: NBL) CEO Chuck Davidson and Encana Corp.'s (NYSE: ECA) president and CEO Doug Suttles will join the discussion of how to ensure that the U.S. gains both economic and environmental benefits from natural gas.
The think tank forum will also delve into China and its impact on the energy world. Speakers Cynthia Wang, managing director, China International Capital Corp.; Rob Gardner, manager, economic and energy division, corporate strategic planning, Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM); and Jiang Lin, chairman, China Sustainable Energy Program, The Energy Foundation, will look at China’s position in global energy and how it is shaping the global race for cleaner energy.
Advances in technology underpin the energy revolution in the U.S., and its role in the world’s energy balance is crucial. “Technology keeps moving, including the technology of competitive fuels, the technology of energy use, and the technology of extracting the fossil fuels,” says Sweeney. Speakers for this theme include Arun Majumdar, vice president, Google Inc. (NasdaqGS: GOOG), and former director of Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy; and Dennis Slagle, executive vice president, AB Volvo (OTC: VOLVY).
The VGEF is a unique event, featuring renowned speakers in an intimate setting at a reasonable price. It is open to the public, and anyone with interest in energy issues is welcomed to attend. For more information about the event, and to purchase tickets, visit www.vvf.org.