Sept. 28, 2000

Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs Launches New Center for Energy, Marine Transportation and Public Policy

By Abigail Beshkin

Columbia University has announced the establishment of a Center for Energy, Marine Transportation and Public Policy at the School of International and Public Affairs. The Center will offer students an opportunity to concentrate in international energy management and policy. It has been launched thanks to a generous grant of $3 million from Exxon Mobil Corporation and The Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation. The grant will cover the cost of establishing the Center, and will provide for its initial operating expenses over a five-year period.

"We are delighted that Exxon Mobil and the Onassis Foundation are supporting our efforts," said Lisa Anderson, dean of the School of International and Public Affairs. "They have shown tremendous generosity and foresight in helping us prepare the next generation of policy-makers and managers for the challenges to come in international energy policy.

Lee Raymond, chairman and chief executive officer of the Exxon Mobil Corporation agreed. "I expect the new Center to make a significant contribution to the understanding of the complex energy policy issues facing not only our country but all nations today."

Stelio Papadimitriou, President of the Board of The Alexander S. Onassis Foundation, said that the Foundation's support for the Center is fully in line with the public benefit concerns of the Foundation. "The new Center will promote research on the environmental, economic and international issues connected with the transportation of energy worldwide and in particular with marine transportation."

The Center will offer a new concentration to SIPA students, allowing candidates for both the masters of international affairs and the masters in public administration to specialize in international energy management and policy. Students will be able to develop a detailed knowledge of the business of producing, transporting and marketing energy products; the economic, environmental and social policies applicable to energy development, transportation and consumption; the economic and political issues arising from the unequal distribution of global energy resources; and the impact of technological change on the future role of energy in the global economy.

By offering this concentration as well as conferences, seminars and training programs for executives and professionals in both the public and private sectors, the Center will help fill an increasing need for expertise in international energy management and policy. The Center will offer training in such specialized areas as energy tax policy; energy project financing; energy price risk management; deregulation and privatization of energy systems; and environmental management of oil tanker routes.

The Center's first director is Hurst Groves. Groves was most recently managing counsel of Mobil Corporation in Fairfax, Virginia, where his responsibilities included managing the legal support for major business transactions undertaken by Mobil and its affiliates around the world, including oil and gas projects in the Middle East, the Caspian region and East and South East Asia. Prior to his 23 years in the international energy industry, Groves practiced corporate and finance law for 10 years with the New York law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore.

"Having spent more than 20 years in the energy world, I've seen the industry become increasingly complex and diverse," said Groves. "I'm pleased to be part of an initiative to provide talented individuals with a depth and breadth of understanding of the industry and related public policy."

The Center will also serve as a new resource for energy professionals, scholars and media analysts seeking independent viewpoints on issues in the industry.

"There are many new participants in the industry," said Groves, "reflecting the continuing trend toward deregulation and privatization. In addition, many long established firms have undergone major changes as a result of acquisitions, mergers and restructuring. There is clearly a need for additional sources of expertise that can provide independent analysis of the issues facing the energy professionals and policy makers."

The new Center complements existing resources at Columbia, ranging from the Columbia Earth Institute, including the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the Center for Climate Systems Research, to SIPA's own Regional Institutes and Functional Concentrations that have addressed energy issues in the past.

A program to inaugurate the new center will be held at the Kellogg Conference Center on October 24, at the School of International and Public Affairs.