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Debate Featuring Tad Patzek Questions World Oil Potential

Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering Chair Dr. Tad Patzek will be part of a critical debate Feb. 14 in Madison, Wisc., about energy policy. The debate, titled "World Oil Supply: Looming Crisis or New Abundance?" will examine the role and future of oil, especially with regard to transportation.

Tad Patzek

Dr. Tad Patzek

Other debaters include former Shell Oil President John Hofmeister, who believes aggressive measures can strongly increase U.S. oil extraction rates. Hofmeister will face off against Patzek, and Dr. Alan Carroll from the UW-Madison Department of Geology and Geophysics will moderate and field follow-up questions from the audience.

The debate begins at 6 p.m. in Madison, Wisc., and is sponsored in part by the Madison Committee on Foreign Relations, Madison Peak Oil Group, Society and Politics Committee of the Wisconsin Union Directorate, Energy Hub student group at UW-Madison, Center for World Affairs and the Global Economy at UW-Madison, University of Wisconsin Energy Institute and The Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.

A video of the debate is available on YouTube.

About the Debaters


Patzek: "Power, or energy per unit time — not merely energy — drives our civilization. Most people do not understand this fact and think that renewable energy will smoothly replace fossil fuels. In the U.S., we haven't even started a broad, serious conversation about how to proceed to cut our use of power by half for starters."

Patzek, Cockrell Family Chair in Engineering No. 11, is a board member of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO-USA), and an authority on oil field technology and its limited potential to break through "mother nature's limits." Patzek served on the Department of Interior's Ocean Energy Safety Advisory Committee to study the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, and is co-author of the book "Drilling Down: The Gulf Oil Debacle and Our Energy Dilemma."

Hofmeister: "'Political time' priorities continue to overwhelm 'energy time' priorities, given the partisan perversity of both major parties, at the expense of the American people and our economic, energy and environmental future. The U.S. is headed for an unprecedented energy abyss within the next five years, including blackouts, brownouts and gasoline lines because it has failed to address its energy needs in the 21st century over the past four decades."

Hofmeister is the founding director of Citizens for Affordable Energy, a public policy center promoting U.S. energy security and awareness of energy issues. His career in industry culminated in his promotion to President of Shell Oil-North America from 2005-08. Since then, he has been a frequent media commentator on energy issues and member of national advisory bodies. His call for an active national energy policy is presented in his recent book "Why We Hate the Oil Companies: Straight Talk from an Energy Insider."

Carroll: "Oil has become increasingly expensive to find and produce, while our awareness of its environmental cost has grown. The World Oil Supply debate will engage the university and the broader community in critical examination these questions."

Carroll is professor of Petroleum Geology at UW-Madison and is a fellow of the Geological Society of America. He serves on the advisory board for the Center for Oil Shale Technology. His book, "Biofuels: A Passenger's Guide to Energy from the Earth," will be published in 2012.

Find more information about the debate on Facebook.