CPC Eyes Pacific Rim Energy Needs

New Problems, New Solutions

A new century has brought new challenges to the Circum Pacific Council for Energy and Mineral Resources, which is taking steps to expand and enhance its role in the region's energy future.

Recognizing the need for a comprehensive energy plan for the Circum Pacific region, the council recently embarked on an ambitious project to compile data on all facets of the energy issue for its part of the world.

The initiative, called "Powering the Rim: The Future of Energy Security in the Circum Pacific Region," is designed to help understand the energy flow within the Pacific region and make scenario-studies for future energy demands out to the year 2025.

The AAPG-affiliated council seeks to understand potential impacts that various energy sources will have on national and international security, the environment and industrial development. It is, according to Council officials, a topic that demands attention.

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A new century has brought new challenges to the Circum Pacific Council for Energy and Mineral Resources, which is taking steps to expand and enhance its role in the region's energy future.

Recognizing the need for a comprehensive energy plan for the Circum Pacific region, the council recently embarked on an ambitious project to compile data on all facets of the energy issue for its part of the world.

The initiative, called "Powering the Rim: The Future of Energy Security in the Circum Pacific Region," is designed to help understand the energy flow within the Pacific region and make scenario-studies for future energy demands out to the year 2025.

The AAPG-affiliated council seeks to understand potential impacts that various energy sources will have on national and international security, the environment and industrial development. It is, according to Council officials, a topic that demands attention.

"In the late 1990s there was a huge economic downturn in Asia that reduced demand for energy, but we knew that wouldn't last," said David Howell, council president and a research geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif.

"Sure enough, here we are today with Asia rebounding, China booming and energy demand soaring," he said.

"The Circum Pacific Council (CPC) always has been an excellent avenue for the exchange of information and knowledge among scientists -- but we have felt for some time that the ultimate customer for the CPC should not be just other scientists, but the world community at large," added Nahum Schneidermann, CPC executive committee chairman and manager-international technical relations with ChevronTexaco Overseas Petroleum, San Ramon, Calif.

"Powering the Rim is an effort to use our scientific background, knowledge and contacts to develop programs that will allow us to share with and educate the public and governments so they can employ science as part of policy and decision making."

The initiative will be completed in stages, all based on partnerships and integration of various databases, with cooperation between government and public-based energy councils in the United States and Pacific Rim countries. The CPC already has established cooperation with the coordinating committee for Geoscience Programmes in East and Southeast Asia, the U.S. Geological Survey, Stanford University, Asia Pacific Energy Research Centre, East West Center and a host of industrial, public and private energy institutes.

The project's first initiative, an undergraduate energy seminar called "The Pacific Rim: Understanding Energy Flow and Policy Issues," was offered last year at Stanford. The Circum-Pacific Council released a DVD series earlier this year that includes all 11 of the presentations made during the seminar.

(The two-disk set, titled "Perspectives for Energy," gives an overview of the energy challenges facing the Pacific region. It is available through the AAPG Bookstore -- $50, catalog #716-03.)

The second initiative is the Pacific Rim Energy Database, which is currently being compiled. The CPC-led project proposes to develop, compile and present the fundamental energy resource data necessary to make sound, strategic energy policy decisions for the Pacific Rim. The data will include:

  • Estimates of reserves and resources of fossil fuels.
  • Sources of renewable energy production and potential.
  • Strategic minerals such as uranium.

The initiative will not stop simply with energy resource data.

"I am a geologist, so I always felt that resource issues were the most important,"Howell said, "but this process has helped me realize that resources alone are not the main driver.

"What we are trying to do is get our arms around energy from all perspectives," he continued, "the role of economics, environmental considerations, the consequence of new technologies, the vulnerability of transportation corridors for the Circum Pacific region, to name a few."