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Oil City Mayor Bill Moon and Azerbaijan's Ambassador to the United States Khazar Ibrahim took part in a ceremonial lighting of a Yellow Dog Lantern modeled after the ones used on oil derricks years ago NOTE: This photos the result of a lens not made for the camera, the hard vignetting is not something at the event.
It was a bit of an odd coincidence when Steven Burns agreed to take part in a first of its kind, international energy conference, that the location would be in the town where he grew up.
A 1993 Titusville Rocket, Burns is now a chief energy and infrastructure expert for Europe and Eurasia at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
He was one of nearly twenty energy experts and heavy hitters from around the world gathered to speak candidly about the energy issues facing a global society.
Though he wasn’t an organizer of the event he welcomed the visitors. “It’s just delightful to bring folks back here to show off my hometown,” he said.
Burns went to Carnegie-Mellon University for Engineering and eventually wanted to something to serve his country, ending up at USAID.
He admitted being back home gave him a chance to visit old cemeteries to pay respect to family and he drove around town even passed his old homestead.
But he wasn’t home to visit.
He was a key component in the first Oil Heritage Energy Security Conference spearheaded by Andrew Tabler, an Oil City graduate.
Tabler, an author and former director at the National Security Council and a senior advisor at the U.S. Department of State, had the idea for the conference after he visited the Republic of Azerbaijan town of Baku, which has a very similar claim to Pennsylvania's oil region. He and Azerbaijan’s ambassador to the United States Khazer Ibrahim began talking about their shared hometown histories, leading them to visit Drake Well and the area together last spring.
The ambassador vowed he would come back in the fall and he made good on his promise. Tabler gave a little more teeth to the return by adding this energy and security conference and inviting some of the top experts in the industry.
Much of the conference was set for honest frank discussions about the pending energy crisis and how the world has gotten to this point. Many were in agreement that the war in Ukraine is a key ingredient to the crisis, but also understand that this isn’t the first global crisis in recent decades. Many agreed that there is no one solution to solving the current problem.
The conference included several panel discussions involving global energy and security, industry trends and in-depth discussions about renewable energy and the role oil and natural gas will play on cleaner and more sustainable energy.
Many of the panelists acknowledge energy is the driving force when it comes to all aspects of life from sustenance to geo-political and human rights.
Tabler said that having this conference in Venengo County shows how an area can reinvent itself. “Oil City is just a shell of what it once was,” he told the attendees, discussing a recent visit when it was hard to find a place open for a cup of coffee. But he praised the region, which was once the heart of oil production, for cleaning up its rivers, for creating trails and having good clean breathable air. He hopes to make this a regular, perhaps annual conference.
"Andrew is someone who is always trying to get people back here,” said Venango Area Chamber of Commerce president Susan Williams. She said the conference was great and very informative.She was impressed how many people came to participate noting the Ibrahim had flown in from out of country just to attend.
Oil City Mayor Bill Moon is in the process of becoming a sister city with Baku in hopes that it will open up further exchanges between the two cities and nations.
Moon took part in a lighting ceremony with Ambassador Ibrahim.
They both lit one of the two wicks on a Yellow Dog Lantern, an old light used on Derrick's back in the day.
The ambassador who is always competitively joking about whose city had the first oil well in the world, Baku’s or Titusville’s, exclaimed, “mine lit first,” causing Moon to burst into laughter.
Tabler ended with saying this area needs new energy and new ideas. “Today gave us proof of concept,” he said about holding such a conference in this nation’s birthplace of oil. “This should have happened 30 years ago at the end of the Cold War.”
We didn't want to delete them because some are still used in teaching circles.