Energy official believes industry growth to continue

Published on Saturday, 29 March 2014 23:41 - Written by Casey Murphy cmurphy@tylerpaper.com

Gates Brelsford believes energy will continue to be a growth industry for the Tyler area.

The chairman of the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce’s Energy Committee said the broad industry — from natural gas and pipelines to power companies and alternative energy — it’s not just the big oil guys at the petroleum club anymore.

“I think it’s definitely here to stay,” he said. “It’s exciting … It’s such a pendulum. It swings back and forth as the market changes.”

Brelsford said the 2014 Tyler Area Energy Summit on Monday will include several speakers who will talk about the broad energy economy in Northeast Texas.

The Energy Committee and the summit were formed four years ago to raise awareness of the Tyler area as an energy center and to strengthen the local economy and create more jobs, he said.

Brelsford worked for oil companies in Houston for about 15 years, working mainly on the exploration and production side of the industry. He began helping Ernie LaFlure, last year’s chairman of the Energy Committee, because of his interest in the field and was selected to serve as chairman this year.

“We do have a considerable amount of long-term production in Northeast Texas,” he said, adding that being able to export LNG (liquid natural gas) would not only help the country, but the area as well.

The Energy Summit is set for 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday at The University of Texas at Tyler Ornelas Activity Center.

Henry Bell, chief operating officer for the Tyler Chamber, said Friday morning that 240 tickets had been sold. The deadline was Friday.

At the Energy Summit, Dr. Ken Morgan, director of TCU Energy Institute, will discuss “Who is in the Fracking Driver’s Seat?”

Brelsford said Morgan has a broad knowledge of national energy issues and knows a lot about natural gas shale plays, which is of interest to Northeast Texas.

Morgan was a professor at Texas Christian University before he started and became director of the TCU Center for Remote Sensing and Energy Research for energy resource mapping. In 2008, he founded the TCU Energy Institute and has published articles on the potential use of domestic natural gas in the U.S. He is chairman of the Texas Metroplex NGV Consortium, made up of more than 100 companies committed to promoting the development of natural gas for transportation uses in the Dallas area and the rest of the country.

Jason French, director of government and public affairs for Cheniere Energy, will also speak at the Energy Summit, and will give the LNG Market and Outlook.

Brelsford called French an “LNG guru.”

“Our supporting LNG is one of the major initiatives of the Energy Committee this year,” he said. “And he kind of folds into that category.”

French is responsible for government relations, public affairs and community outreach at the state and local levels, as Cheniere Energy works to develop LNG export facilities in Louisiana and Texas. He joined the company in 2011 after serving as director of government and public affairs for BP America.

Brelsford said the export of LNG is of critical interest to the oil and gas industry in the area. French’s company, Cheniere Energy, was the first to be granted a permit a couple of years ago to export LNG, he said.

A panel discussion about current energy issues will be moderated by Nelson Clyde, publisher of the Tyler Morning Telegraph. The panel will include Morgan and French, as well as Ernest LaFlure, vice president and general manager of EOG Resources Tyler Division; and Dennis McAfee Jr., senior project manager of Environmental Services for QPS Engineering.

Tyler Mayor Barbara Bass will give the welcome remarks.

LaFlure has had a 36-year career in the energy industry and at EOG Resources, he is responsible for exploration and production activities in East Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

McAfee has 15 years of professional consulting experience in operations, client, project and staff management and business development. His specialties include ecological field studies; local, state and federal permitting; facility siting and route selection for well field and infrastructure projects; natural gas transmission projects; electrical transmission line projects; and transportation projects.

Sponsors of the event include the city of Tyler, Tyler Chamber, Tyler Economic Development Council, EOG Resources, UT Tyler, TransCanada - Gulf Coast Project, Luminant Power - TXU, Oncor, Fair Oil Ltd., Delek Refining Ltd., Chesapeake Energy, First Alt Fuel Inc., The Genecov Group, XTO Energy and RS&H.