May 22 Tulsa World
It’s no coincidence that a group of visitors from across the globe are asking the same kinds of questions about energy that are dominating discussions about U.S. energy policy.
What are the risks of hydraulic fracturing? Is energy independence really possible or practical? And can renewable energies replace fossil fuels fast enough to keep up with a growing global economy?
“We have coal, hydroelectric and gas, and we are still asking ourselves what is the most appropriate mix of energy,” said Silvia Vlasceanu, dignitary for the Romanian Parliament. “We are trying to see what is a good example and what is a bad example and see what is good for us.”
After visits to Washington, D.C., and the rich Marcellus natural gas shale in Pennsylvania, dignitaries from China, Turkey, Nigeria, Angola and Romania are in Oklahoma this week to visit local energy companies and learn from this nation’s energy sector.
The visit was arranged by the U.S. Department of State, and the Tulsa segment was organized by the Tulsa Global Alliance.
In nations separated by thousands of miles and decades apart in terms of development, the same problems face government-run operations in Nigeria that energy-sector employees in Tulsa and policy makers in Washington, D.C., face every day.
They spent Monday touring local energy companies, such as pipeline and servicing company T.D. Williamson.
On Tuesday, they are scheduled to visit the Cushing storage hub and the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline project, which would ship millions of barrels of tar sands oil from Canada if it can get regulatory approval.
Vlasceanu is a counselor for the Industry and Services Committee for the Chamber of Deputies of the Romanian Parliament.
She said recent discoveries of natural gas in the eastern European country have sparked interest in using the fuel as an economic resource and a means to become completely energy independent, but she did have questions about the environmental impact.
Some cases in the United States have linked hydraulic fracturing to groundwater pollution and other environmental damage, but natural gas industry officials say those reports have no scientific basis.
Romania now imports about 20 percent of its energy, Vlasceanu said.
The group all represented state-run oil interests, including Ibrahim Said, deputy general manager of Botas, the petroleum pipeline company that owns all fuel pipeline operations in Turkey, the crossroads between Middle East oil and Europe.
“We had a major pipeline spill in 2005, and the government was completely responsible,” Said said.
Shen Yanping, who works with the Ministry of Land and Resources in the People’s Republic of China, said that the world’s most populous nation is now debating internally whether it should seek energy independence and what risk that would be to the country’s economy.
“We import about half of our energy,” Yanping said. “In the short term we have to import from the Middle East, but we are in discussions about energy independence.”
U.S. policymakers have been pursuing the same discussions over opening up sensitive environmental areas to oil and natural gas drilling and whether to expand drilling offshore.
Ozonoh Maxwell, a college lecturer in Nigeria, said his country has been developing energy resources in partnership with foreign producers such as Chevron. He said his nation has become a net energy exporter.
He said he was concerned that attempts by the United States and other countries to pursue energy independence could be harmful to economies such as the one in Nigeria.
“There is an energy crisis in Nigeria,” said Maxwell, a lecturer at the Enugu State University of Science & Technology.
Still, he said, the United States is a leader in energy research and technology, something he hopes will benefit his country’s industry in the coming years.
Kyle Arnold 918-581-8380
Originally published by KYLE ARNOLD World Staff Writer.
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