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Director Of Energy School: National Demand For Fossil Fuels May Not Rebound To Pre-Pandemic Levels

In 2020, Oklahoma was the fourth-largest producer of crude oil and the fourth-largest producer of marketed natural gas among the states.

Tom Seng, director of the University of Tulsa’s School of Energy, Policy, and Commerce, talks about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report out this week.


“The report is telling us that things are essentially worse than predicted, that global warming is happening at an accelerated pace.”


As far as having an impact on the trajectory of the crisis, Seng said people can make small changes in their lives.


“As individuals, we don’t necessarily see ourselves as responsible for pollution. But the fact is if every person on this planet were to look at their own carbon footprint and change something - something in their lifestyle - you could have a profound impact that way.”


Seng said it’s a question of supply and demand. If people cut their demand, less fossil fuels would be necessary.


“The issue of new leases, new pipelines, they’re not going to be needed.”


Seng’s department at TU has strong ties to oil and gas, and while the US is exporting energy at record levels, he expects national demand for fossil fuels to fall further.


“If there’s a silver lining with this whole mess of COVID, it’s that we probably will not go back to the same level of fossil fuel use we had prior to March of 2020.”


Americans used approximately 7% less energy in 2020.


Seng said professionally, conversations are happening around diversifying educational offerings.


“We’re talking about energy transition. In fact, we had a brand new course this summer on energy transition. So we haven’t come out and said, ‘hey look at us, we’re doing all these things in energy,’ but there’s a lot going on there that is not the traditional oil and gas research.”