IUP graduate talks energy
The United States is going to have to make some pretty important decisions if it is to keep up with the growing energy demand.
Tim Cejka, recently retired president of ExxonMobil Exploration Co., made that point as he led a community forum Wednesday afternoon at IUP's Weyandt Hall to discuss U.S. and global energy policies.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania geoscience professor Steven Hovan opened the discussion, titled "Energy Trends and the Petroleum Industry," by saying that Cejka is probably the most successful alum of IUP's geoscience department.
Cejka joked that, back then, the geoscience department was still using candles as light.
A Pittsburgh native, Cejka is a 1973 graduate of IUP with 35 years of experience in geological exploration, development and energy management. He began his career in 1975, working off the coast of California as an exploration geophysicist and was then promoted to geological and geophysical manager of the Gulf of Mexico.
He became vice president of exploration when Exxon created the Exxon Ventures Co. in 1993. He worked extensively in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan. After the merger of Exxon and Mobil, he became vice president for the Caspian/Middle East Region for ExxonMobil Exploration. He served as president of ExxonMobil Exploration from 2004 until his retirement in 2010.
"You see things in a different light when you see the whole globe," Cejka stated while driving home the point that the world is interconnected when it comes to the energy industry. There's not a chance in you-know-where to be energy independent. We live in a world where you can put gas on a ship and put it wherever you want. We're not the big dogs on the block anymore.
"The scale is gigantic, the demand is there and we have to make personal choices about how we as Americans will move forward."
Cejka discussed the drawbacks and benefits for resources such as coal, gas and natural gas -- which is particularly important to the Pennsylvania area with the drilling of Marcellus shale. "New energy has to replace old infrastructure from old energy sources," he said. "Everyone is for it, until it's in their backyard."
According to Cejka, natural gas accounts for 24 percent of U.S. energy, is responsible for the creation of 2.8 million jobs and contributed more than $380 billion in taxes to our nation's economy in a single year, 2009.
That year, Marcellus shale drilling created 44,000 jobs and more than $1 billion in federal taxes from its production in Pennsylvania, according to Cejka. However, he added that the industry gave itself a huge black eye when it refused to reveal the "company secret," to its fracking fluid, which he said, is 99.5 percent water and 0.5 percent detergent or shampoo.
Because they would not reveal that to anyone, no one believes them now about the contents of the fluid, he said.
"Over the next 20 years, electricity is going to be in overwhelming demand," he said. "It's your choice as to where we go for an alternative, and the choice is not free. We're personally responsible for this.
"If you want to reduce pollution, what's your choice?" he said.
Cejka is married with two daughters. His wife, Debra, is a 1973 graduate of IUP with a degree in English education. Cejka was among the recipients of the IUP Distinguished Alumni Award in 2006.