image
image
image
image

Turns out, if you mash together members of Colorado’s energy industry with the members of the tech community, you get some pretty interesting “friction.” And that is exactly what the organizers of the Energy + Tech Mashup sought out at Tuesday night’s event at the Denver Petroleum Club (1325 Glenarm St.). Hosted by Karen Suhaka of LegiNation, the Mashup took on a participatory feel. The evening featured an expert panel, but it was audience members and panelists alike that brainstormed together on
creative solutions that could bridge vexing problems in the energy and tech
worlds.


image

Mike Stemple, founder of Inspirer and Alan Lindsey, CEO of PetroDE,
represented the panelists from the tech perspective. While Stephen
Harpham
, Executive Vice President of Engineering at Dorado E&P Partners,
Brian Taylor, Environmental
Engineering Manager at Noble Energy, Vance Barber, President of Redneck Pipe Rental, and Lisa
Roy
, Land Negotiator at EnCana Oil & Gas, represented the energy perspectives at the event.

image

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, the only
geologist ever to become governor in the U.S., even stopped by to offer support
for both of the industries and provide some perspective on the night: “As a
restaurant owner, I always tried to find spaces in my restaurant where people
coming from different walks of life could rub elbows. I called it friendly friction, and it’s from
this interaction that ideas are spread.”

image

The topics of
discussion covered a wide range, from extremely technical and nuanced, like how
to efficiently and cost effectively image well heads with advanced technology,
to broad overarching questions about the general public’s perception of the
energy industry.

image

For perspective,
the oil and gas industry in Colorado generates $29.6 billion dollars for the
state, which is equal to the GDP of several small countries. The oil and gas industry puts over 110,000
people to work in Colorado with salaries that average $74,800.00 a year. In addition, the oil industry in Colorado
produces enough oil for the yearly use of half of Colorado’s residents, and
through taxes, it funds $1.6 billion dollars towards public revenue. Despite the staggering contribution the oil
and gas industry makes to the Colorado economy, the tech community spread the
message loud and clear: “You guys have a
bad wrap. You have a PR problem.”

image

What can the energy
industry do to address this? Audience
members chimed in on the messaging required by the oil industry to be
successful. Make the messaging more emotional to connect better with the average
person.
However, oil industry panelists
were somewhat wary about emotional messaging, concerned that heavy-handed
approaches seem to alienate people rather than connect them.

image

The viewpoint is not
unique to Colorado, as Lisa Roy from EnCana Oil and Gas pointed out, saying, “People who say they are green because they
ride their bikes? Well, where did the
frame come from? Oil. What about how the bike got into the store to
be sold? Petroleum products are everywhere.
And people just don’t realize that.
Even your iPhone is powered 90% by oil and gas.”
On the debate on fracking currently waging in
the state, the energy folks assert, “Producing
oil in this state without fracking is like asking a tire company to make tires
without oil. Its just not possible.”

image

Tech companies like
Google, Mike Stemple pointed out, rely on a third party, like the Consumer Electronics Association to elevate
the industry and keep it on good terms with the general public. Another audience member noted the need for
clear infographics that help people understand the nuances behind the energy
debate. Attendees of the event will be interested to know that such an entity
doe exist in Colorado, called the Colorado Oil & Gas Association—and
their site does feature infographics.

Innovation served
as a unifying theme both industries touched on—and the Governor is doing what
he can to foster that in the state. The Colorado Innovation Network
(COIN)
initiative brings government, business and civil society
together to foster collaboration around global ideas, talent, capital and the
entrepreneurial spirit. The group hosts
a summit every year at the end of August.

image

Organizers for the
Energy + Tech Mashup included Laura
Blomquist, Brent Cutcliffe, Amanda Lougee, Karen Suhaka
and Nissa Szabo. The event was sponsored by Google, BillTrack
50, WellData Labs, RAS & Associates, Qwinix, Whitestar and PetroDE, as well
as the Denver Petroleum Club.

by Emily Przekwas