Oil company sponsoring energy forum Wednesday

Monday, October 22, 2007 | 5:35 p.m. CDT; updated 1:30 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Oil giant ConocoPhillips is hosting a forum Wednesday to discuss issues revolving around energy cost, consumption and alternative energy sources.

The forum, called Conservation on Energy, is part of a public outreach program by Houston-based ConocoPhillips. The community is invited to participate in a two-way dialogue with Merl Lindstrom, the company’s general manager of research and development, and Gene Batchelder, senior vice president of services and chief information officer.

The forum will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Holiday Inn Select Executive Center, 2200 I-70 Drive S.W.

Katie Smith, director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture, and Floyd Gilzow, deputy director of policy for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, will be on the panel as well. Thomas Payne, dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, and James Thompson, dean of the College of Engineering, will moderate the meeting.

“Energy today primarily originates from petroleum, coal and nuclear sources,” Thompson said. Petroleum sources aren’t renewable, and as they become more scarce, their prices rise.

“It is clearly important for our state and nation to develop nuclear, clean coal and advanced technologies for our future use,” he said.

Energy conservation, innovation, efficiency and environmental responsibility are the key issues ConocoPhillips hopes to address.

The company has been exploring a variety of alternative energy sources, such as using wood chips and grass to create biodeisel. In April, ConocoPhillips announced plans to start a $22.5 million research program at Iowa State University to produce biorenewable fuels. The company is also working with Tyson Foods to create an energy source using fat from feedstock.

In conjunction with the visit, the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and the College of Engineering will be holding a symposium between 2 and 4 p.m. Wednesday in Ketcham Auditorium in Lafferre Hall.

The six speakers participating in the symposium are Lindstrom; MU faculty members Peter Pfeifer, professor of physics; Bill Jacoby, associate professor of biological and chemical engineering; and Bill Miller, professor and chair of nuclear engineering. Also speaking will be Jim Fischer, a senior scientific advisor at the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and Anita Randolph, director of the Missouri Energy at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

ConocoPhillips began the program at the end of 2006 in hopes of understanding public opinion on energy issues. Columbia is among the last of 35 locations ConocoPhillips will visit.

ConocoPhillips hopes to use the feedback, both from professionals and residents, to shift itself from a traditional oil-and-gas company to one that is energy efficient.

“We are looking forward to the forum for open discussion of all current and potential sources of energy that can be used to address current and future energy needs,” Payne said.

Seating is limited, and those who want to attend the town meeting Wednesday night should register by calling 888-877-5917 or going to

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