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Dave Olson, Published March 05 2012

NDSU symposium aims to build energy security

FARGO – North America can achieve energy security within five to seven years with the help of technology, innovation and partnerships with countries like Canada.

That was the message Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., delivered Monday morning at the start of an energy technology symposium at North Dakota State University.

Hoeven said about 30 percent of U.S. oil needs are still supplied by places like the Middle East and Venezuela and tensions in those parts of the world can cause rapid increases in the price of gasoline at the pumps.

He said symposiums like the one at NDSU can help boost energy production in North America while fostering better environmental stewardship.

“Together with Canada, we can achieve North American energy security within five to seven years, if we take advantage of opportunities in all our energy sectors and foster technology and innovation,” Hoeven said.

He said combining the supercomputing expertise of researchers at NDSU with work going on elsewhere holds the potential to unlock tremendous advancements in the extraction and refining of fossil fuels as well as the development of alternative energy sources.

Tomas Diaz de la Rubia, one of the presenters at the symposium, agreed.

Diaz de la Rubia, deputy director for science and technology at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, said energy security is a national security issue.

He said countries such as China, India and Russia are learning what they can from the United States in order to get competing technologies to the market faster.

“The point of the meeting today is we cannot stand still,” Diaz de la Rubia said.

Innovation is already making it easier for companies to drill more efficiently and with less danger to the environment, said Matt Thompson, of QEP Resources, a company working in North Dakota’s Oil Patch.

He said “single-pad” technology – which is now being used and allows several wells to be drilled from one location – greatly limits the impact of drilling on the environment.

Hoeven said he is working in the Senate to address several issues that will enhance efforts to promote U.S. energy independence, including a bill that would give approval to expansion of the Keystone pipeline.

President Barack Obama has halted the pipeline plan, which is viewed by some as a potential threat to the environment.

Hoeven said fears of a pipeline leak should be calmed by the fact the current Keystone pipeline has displayed no such tendencies.

He added that the project is so critical to the nation’s interests that it is only a matter of time before Congress approves it.

“We’re going to get it at some point,” Hoeven vowed.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555