Dr. Scott W. Tinker

Department of Geology and Geological Engineering
Van Tuyl Lecture Series- Fall 2014
4:00-5:00 p.m. in Berthoud Hall Room 241
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Dr. Scott W. Tinker
Director, Bureau of Economic Geology & State Geologist of Texas
Professor, Allday Endowed Chair of Subsurface Geology
John A. and Katherine G. Jackson School of Geosciences
University of Texas at Austin
“Energy Generation(s) A 60-Year Perspective”
Abstract: When Bob Weimer, Frank Sonnenberg, and Tom Tinker were beginning their
geologic careers in the 1950’s, coal was coming off its reign as the dominant global fuel
and oil was on the rise. Thirty years later, when Paul Weimer, Steve Sonnenberg, and I
were in the early phases of our careers, oil was at its global peak, satisfying nearly 50%
of the total global energy demand. As you begin your careers, oil has fallen to below
35% of demand, coal remains important, and natural gas is rising to become the
dominant fuel of the 21st century. Together, fossil fuels represent over 85% of the
global energy mix today.
As conventional oil and natural gas production decline, production from
unconventional reservoirs, led by shale gas and shale oil, will represent a growing
component of the oil and natural gas mix. Unconventional reservoirs—which require
technologies such as hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling, geosteering, smart
proppants, and advanced seismic imaging—could not have been developed
economically 30 years ago. And when Bob Weimer, Frank Sonnenberg, and Tom Tinker
were in their early careers, horizontal wells happened when the driller lost control of
the well, and downhole fracturing involved nitroglycerin! My, how technology has
What does the future of energy hold? The truth is, no one knows for sure, but there are
parameters that have guided the historical energy mix and will likely influence the
future. These include affordability, availability, reliability, and environmental
sustainability—the tenets of energy security. Because no form of energy is perfect,
diverse energy portfolios are common and, in fact, make sense. And although the
energy mix is driven mostly by security, government policy and regulatory rules can
have an impact. Thus it is vital for thoughtful people from industry, government,
academia, and NGO’s to seek objective and reliable information, and to be willing to
leave their corners and work together to educate the public and develop and deliver
balanced energy solutions.
Students, we are in your hands now. Be thoughtful. Be unbiased. Be educated. The
future is yours!

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