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Posted: May 01, 2008

State of the State: Energy

ConocoPhillips exec sees Louisville site key to diversifying energy portfolio

Rebecca Cole

The 432-acre Louisville property that ConocoPhillips bought in February for $58.5 million will be a catalyst for the fuel giant to supply energy in different forms, a company executive says.
Steven R. Brand, ConocoPhillips’ senior vice president of technology, provided a few insights in March at the New Frontiers Energy Summit about the corporate learning and global technology centers slated for the site. He told about 500 people gathered in Denver that the company will continue to emphasize oil and gas for the short- and medium-term.

"Alternative energy can’t be brought online quickly enough. Fossil fuels will still be a significant part of the world’s energy supply even in 2020," Brand said. "But in 20, 40 and 50 years from now we’ll be a different company."

Last year, ConocoPhillips hired 2,900 people — a target it plans to hit for the next several years. Brand said bringing them up to speed through corporate training is essential. Eighty-eight percent of the company’s 32,000 global workers underwent some form of training last year.

ConocoPhillips has doubled its research and development spending in recent years, and this year has invested $500 million into new technology and emerging businesses, he said.

Along with other industry giants like Chevron and Shell, the company paid $50,000 last year in sponsor fees to the
Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels for the opportunity to partner on research with the University of Colorado at Boulder, Colorado State University, Colorado School of Mines and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Brand said some of those emerging technologies to be explored at the new Louisville facility may include modernized, "green" extraction methods for heavy oil (i.e., oil from tar sands); clean-burning coal technology; better seismic imaging of reservoirs; biotechnologies to remove unwanted contaminants from oil; and carbon-capture and storage.

The company is targeting 2012 for occupancy of the Louisville site.

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Rebecca Cole is the online editor at Rocky Mountain Institute, a non-profit "think-and-do" tank that drives the efficient use of energy and resources. Learn more about RMI's latest initiative, Reinventing Fire, to move the U.S. off fossil fuels by 2050.

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