Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Program on Energy and Sustainable Development Stanford University


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February 8th, 2013

Misguided “Oil Scarcity Ideology” Has Distorted US National Security Policy

The “peak oil” fallacy is not new; in fact it has long inflicted real harm in the geopolitical sphere despite persistent evidence of its falsity. Roger Stern, Research Assistant Professor of Energy at the University of Tulsa’s Collins College of Business, describes in a new PESD working paper how “oil scarcity ideology” influenced US national security policy in profoundly detrimental ways from 1909 to 1980. Read more »

January 28th, 2013

Do State-Owned Companies Have Inside Access to the World’s Oil and Gas Resources?

In a public lecture at the University of Tulsa, PESD associate director Mark Thurber critically considers the idea that national oil companies (NOCs) are elbowing aside private players, both on their home turf and abroad. Live feed at 5 pm PST on January 28, 2013.

January 15th, 2013

Resource nationalism constrained by risk of developing new oil and gas deposits

in the news: Reuters on January 15, 2013

A Reuters article cites work by PESD researchers Peter Nolan and Mark Thurber that explains why hydrocarbon-rich nations still need foreign companies to develop frontier resources like oil and gas from shales or in the deep offshore. While governments may successfully employ national oil companies in mature petroleum provinces, private companies are usually better at managing the high risks of frontier activities.

December 18th, 2012

Export American natural gas? Not so fast, says Stanford economist

FSI's Frank Wolak warns of betting against the international spread of shale gas technologies by attempting to export domestic natural gas. Read more »

December 13th, 2012

Canada’s new investment rules for oil sands target foreign NOCs

PESD associate director Mark Thurber appeared on Canada’s Business News Network to discuss new government guidelines that promise greater scrutiny for future corporate takeovers in the oil sands by foreign national oil companies (NOCs). Thurber argued that Canada nevertheless remains comparatively attractive to NOCs working abroad relative to other oil provinces around the world. Read more »

PESD researchers assess natural gas in the U.S. and China

PESD researchers commented in the new issue of the Stanford Energy Journal on what the “shale gas revolution” means for both the U.S. and China. Mark Thurber argues that environmentalists in the U.S. should advocate for both fugitive methane regulations and increased use of gas. Jonathan Strahl and Joseph Chang foresee that economic and regulatory barriers may delay a repeat in China of the North American shale “miracle.” Read more »

October 19th, 2012

Wolak comments on California’s gasoline prices and the low carbon fuel standard

in the news

Frank Wolak was interviewed by reporter Anne Makovec of CBS5 of San Francisco about California’s high gasoline prices and how the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) is likely to impact the price of transportation fuels in California. Read more »

Wolak working on design and implementation of California’s cap-and-trade market

Frank Wolak was appointed to the Emissions Market Assessment Committee (EMAC) of the California Air Resources Board. Read more »

June 27th, 2012

The Climate Problem is a Coal Problem: PESD in Foreign Affairs

In the current issue of Foreign Affairs, Richard Morse argues that the climate problem is a coal problem, and that coal is not going away anytime soon. Any pragmatic strategy for confronting climate change therefore has to directly confront coal use in the developing world. Articulating new strategies for delivering emission reductions in the coal sector that don’t depend on a carbon price, Morse argues that coal may represent one of the largest and most cost effective opportunities for near-term emissions mitigation on a global scale.

June 13th, 2012

Risk attitudes shapes national oil company strategies

Based on the research in Oil and Governance, PESD researchers Mark Thurber and David Hults argue that the incentives an NOC faces to take, avoid, or manage risk critically determine its strategy and whether it can achieve the particular goals of its host government. Read more »

June 5th, 2012

Join us at our conference on "The New U.S. Role in Global Fossil Fuel Markets"


On Tuesday, December 11, 2012, the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development will host an all-day conference on "The New U.S. Role in Global Fossil Fuel Markets" The conference session topics are: (1) the implications of the unconventional natural gas revolution for the U.S. energy industry and global natural gas trade; (2) the changing role of the U.S. in the global oil market, and its geopolitical and economic implications; (3) the future of the U.S. coal industry in the domestic and global energy industry; and (4) the trends in conventional fossil fuels and alternative energy sources uses in the transportation sector. Each session will feature a presentation by an academic or industry expert followed by discussants from the industry, policymaking, and academic communities, with an opportunity for audience comment and discussion. The conference will conclude with panel of distinguished industry experts addressing the question, “Will Natural Gas Become a Major Transportation Fuel in the U.S.?” Read more »

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News around the web

Reduce greenhouse gas by exporting coal? Yes, says Stanford economist
Western U.S. coal companies looking to expand sales to China will likely succeed, according to Stanford University economist Frank Wolak. But, due to energy market dynamics in the United States, those coal exports are likely to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases.
Mention of Frank Wolak in Stanford University News on January 15, 2013

Export American natural gas? Not so fast, says Stanford economist
Stanford economics Professor Frank Wolak warns of betting against the international spread of shale gas technologies by attempting to export domestic natural gas.
Mention of Frank Wolak in Stanford University News on December 18, 2012

Stanford Nobel Laureate wins top US science honor
Former director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) Burton Richter was awarded the Presidential Enrico Fermi Award on Thursday. The award is one of the oldest and most prestigious science and technology distinctions granted by the U.S. Government.
Mention of Burton Richter in The Stanford Daily on January 13, 2012

Stanford's Burton Richter wins top science award
Burton W. Richter, a Stanford Nobel Prize-winning physicist, and Mildred Dresselhaus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have won the Presidential Enrico Fermi Award, the White House announced Wednesday.
Mention of Burton Richter in San Francisco Chronicle on January 12, 2012

Stanford physicist Burton Richter's moderate approach to climate change gaining supporters
Stanford physicist's prescriptions include more natural gas and nuclear power, doubts about renewable energy goals, and a new way to gain political support. (Interview)
Mention of Burton Richter in Stanford Report on December 28, 2011

As Coal Use Declines in US, Coal Companies Focus on China
With aging coal-fired U.S. power plants shutting down, major American coal companies are exporting ever-larger amounts of coal to China. Richard K. Morse, the director of research on coal and carbon markets at Stanford’s Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, comments.
Mention of Richard Morse in Yale Environment 360 on December 8, 2011

New U.S. nuclear reactors unlikely soon: physicist
Stanford physicist and Nobel laureate Burton Richter told a Stanford audience that he expects the worldwide impact of the Fukushima disaster to be small. ( -- Japanese officials increased the nuclear crisis level at the Fukushima plant on ...
Mention of Burton Richter in on April 15, 2011

New US nuclear reactors unlikely soon, say Stanford physicist
Stanford Nobel laureate Burton Richter and New York Times journalist Matthew Wald were on campus to talk about how radiation leaks at Japan's Fukushima plant could impact the future of nuclear energy in the United States and abroad.
Mention of Burton Richter in Stanford Report on April 14, 2011

RI to import 4.5m tons of LNG starting in 2013
An energy expert from Stanford University in the United States, Mark C. Thurber, said Indonesia needed to gradually increase the price of gas for industrial users in order to encourage gas exploration activities. "A strategy that some companies have ...
Mention of Mark Thurber in Jakarta Post on February 24, 2011

Prof says future of US energy technology lies in regulation, not production
On the tail of recent research by Stanford's Program on Energy and Sustainable Development (PESD) examining China's evolving coal and power sectors, ...
Mention of Frank Wolak in The Stanford Daily on January 27, 2011

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