Energy summit keynote speaker to talk challenges, collaboration

Colorado and Wyoming share many of the same challenges, despite the differences in their energy industries. Ed Buchanan, Wyoming’s secretary of state, will talk about the similarities and differences and how the states can work together when he addresses the Northern Colorado Energy Summit.

The energy summit, a BizWest event, will be Tuesday, July 17, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the DoubleTree hotel in downtown Greeley.

Buchanan said in an interview with BizWest that the numerous challenges that the industry

Ed Buchanan, Wyoming secretary of state.

faces are the biggest issue for the future, even though U.S. energy producers are setting records for production and will likely produce more oil than any other country in the world next year — unless Saudi Arabia or Russia steps up production as well.

“I’d say the most important issue is, or are, the challenges that our traditional energy industry faces — obviously that comes in many forms. Regulation, environmental concerns and competing commodities are all issues. From our perspective in Wyoming, we need to concentrate on lowering the barriers to our energy resources, which is coal and oil in our case. We need to concentrate on export possibilities and concentrate on technologies that we’re already working on to produce greater volumes through enhanced oil recovery. We need to utilize carbon emissions with regard to coal, ways we can capture carbon.”

Wyoming is the top coal producer in the United States and in 2016 produced 40 percent of all coal mined. It’s production dwarfed West Virginia by more than three times. In that same year, Colorado produced 12.6 million short tons of coal compared with Wyoming’s 297 million short tons, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

When it comes to oil, however, Colorado produces much more than Wyoming. In April this year, Colorado produced 13.5 million barrels of crude oil and Wyoming produced almost 7 million barrels.  The two states produce similar amounts of natural gas, with Colorado extracting 149 billion cubic feet of gas in April and Wyoming 145 billion cubic feet.

Wyoming is also the nation’s largest producer of uranium with 60 percent of the nation’s operating capacity.

Buchanan has a positive outlook for the energy industry in both states. “I’d use that old term ‘cautiously optimistic’. From Wyoming’s perspective, the optimism comes from the technologies that we’ve been encouraging the private sector to develop when it comes to carbon capture and sequestration and the value-added products for carbon. We want to lower the barriers to our most abundant natural resources. At the same time, we’re in a challenging era not only because of regulation — we’re using technology to address regulation — but we also have competition with other commodities,” he said, in reference to efforts to replace coal with natural gas or other fuels for electrical power generation.

When asked what Colorado producers should be doing to position themselves for success, he said, “Tough question. You have to take into account that the states are different. Political climate, infrastructure, regulations at the state level are all different.”

He said the two states have had success at working together and pointed to collaboration in 2015 between the states in persuading the U.S. government not to list the sage grouse as an endangered species. This would have had impacts for energy production in both states. The collaboration involved protecting habitats without the need for federal intervention.

“We’ve had good cooperation in putting together commonsense plans so that we can continue to have oil and gas drilling in that habitat.”

“Another area that could be explored would be cooperation between the two states related to technology — pipeline technology and transportation technology, for example, that we can both use as we enhance our recovery of oil.”

Buchanan said that efforts nationwide to ramp up production will benefit both Wyoming and Colorado in creation of jobs and in and severance taxes collected.

Buchanan is scheduled to speak at 12:30 p.m. during the Energy Summit lunch. Registration can be accomplished here.