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Energy & Environment Natural Gas Drill Site Field Trip

On April 27 and 28, 2014, a group of SIPA students, led by Dr. Jonathan Chanis, traveled to Pennsylvania and West Virginia to meet with natural gas industry executives and visit a natural gas drill site.   The purpose of the trip was to talk with company officials about natural gas developments in the Marcellus and observe how this development affects the local community and the environment.  The students spent most of the visit with company officials and they were able to ask numerous questions.  The time at the drill site further aided the group’s understanding of natural gas development by allowing everyone to see firsthand the scale and scope of a drilling operation. While at the drill site, the students had the opportunity to talk with the drilling engineer and other workers.

Among the issues discussed in detail during the trip were:

  • The steps necessary to drill a well and produce natural gas in the Marcellus;
  • Average well costs and capital budgeting practices;
  • The impact of “Act 13” being overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court;
  • Lease acquisition practices, especially the complexity of dealing with landowners whose mineral rights have been “severed” by a previous landowner;
  • Drilling location siting practices; The gains in drilling efficiency (and the major decline in surface area footprints);
  • The use and importance of drill casing; issues of methane migration; the importance of base line water testing;
  • Hydraulic fracturing technology and the composition of fracking fluids; industry fracking fluid composition disclosure practices;
  • Water usage and waste disposal; water recycling and “closed-loop systems”;
  • Job creation and work forced management issues; workforce safety issues;
  • Community attitudes toward drilling and natural gas production; industry – community relations; the impact of natural gas development on the local agricultural economy;

One of the clearest impressions many students formed concerned the significant impact natural gas development has on the daily life of the community.  Each student was able to see for him/herself the significant and continual truck traffic and evaluate how disruptive this movement is to daily community life.  Company officials openly discussed this issue and they reviewed how they attempt to minimize disruptions and work with local government and civic leaders to maximize benefits for all community residents, not just for those who have development leases.



“This visit was a unique experience and it definitely added great value to our course of study at SIPA. As energy professionals, it is important to understand the magnitude of the positive and negative impacts natural gas drilling and production have on host communities.  We can read about this, but sometimes a field trip says more than a thousand words. I was particularly impressed by the openness of company representatives who responded frankly to the multiple questions posed by the group. However, while the company does seem to be making great efforts to minimize disruptions to the local community, one of the main problems I observed was that the state and local government is not conducting health or environmental impact assessments.   In a future visit, it would be interesting to talk to civil society representatives to gain multiple perspectives on the impact shale gas development on the region.”


“The most significant aspect of the trip was being able to see the scale of the operations in person. It is one thing to participate with the abstract idea of fracking by studying it in the classroom, but seeing how the operations are carried out day to day, in the rolling hills of West Virginia, provides an entirely different context and understanding of the issue.”


In the future, the Energy and Environment Concentration will encourage more such field trips, especially if it includes visits with community leaders and local government officials.

Post contributed by Professor Jonathan Chanis.  Besides sharing his knowledge and insight at SIPA, Professor Chanis has worked in finance for 25 years — most of this time has been spent trading and investing in the emerging markets and various commodities markets, especially petroleum.  Currently he is Managing Member of New Tide Asset Management, a proprietary vehicle focused on global and resource investing.

Summer Reading – Part 10

Here are a few more options for summer reading and finding out more about what is going on regarding student life at SIPA.

Daniel Green – 2009 Alumnus

Blog: – Blogging about all kinds of negotiation to stay current and up to date.

Twitter: @dgreentweets

SIPASA is the student government at SIPA.  It is possible to follow all things related to SIPASA via Facebook or Twitter . . .

Twitter:  @sipasa

. . . and if you wish to view the student government and student group site at SIPA please click here.  There are 40 different groups at SIPA involved in quite an array of activities.

Race Thinking and the Sciences in French Colonial Vietnam

The following post was written by Sawako Sonoyama.  I am constantly amazed by the sheer number of events our students have access to.  We will feature more posts soon from some students that have been working on their capstone projects.


SIPA offers a variety of activities that help equip students with the skills necessary for a successful career. During your two years here, you can be trained in specialized skills such as Monitoring & Evaluation, Conflict Resolution, and Crowdsourcing from experts in the field, while being deeply embedded with the appropriate professional networks. SIPA, however, is not only about acquiring skills and networking, but has rigorous academic caliber as well.

During your two years away from the professional world, you will have the opportunity to be a student again. This is the time to once again bury your selves under thousands of pages of readings, tackle intellectual debates with your colleagues, and absorb pure knowledge from prominent guest speakers in the field of your academic choice.

For example, I attended a talk titled “Race Thinking and the Sciences in French Colonial Vietnam” by Mitch Aso. Aso is a PhD student at the University of Wisconsin, focusing on environmental change and human health on the rubber plantations of southern Vietnam. His talk focused on how race was created through colonialism via biopolitical mechanisms such as agriculture and medicine. Through rubber production in Vietnam, certain ethnic groups were categorized as being barbaric laborers, even when a mix of ethnicities within Vietnam was conducting the same agricultural practices.

In reaction to the malaria outbreak in Southeast Asia, the colonizers labeled certain ethnicities to be carriers of the disease and attempted to segregate those people. Aso illustrated concrete examples on how the concept of race is extremely complex; it can be created through political and calculative avenues. Racial identity is never concretely defined. The conversation also expanded to the concept of modernity and whether these new agricultural and medical practices actually modernized the indigenous people’s lives. A constant debate amongst anthropologists and philosophers surrounds the exact timing and definition of modernity. Was the western influence that detrimental to revolutionizing the lives of the indigenous communities?

The concept of identity and modernity may be quite abstract and academic to be applied on daily affairs in international relations, however, a solid understanding of such notions are undoubtedly helpful. As an Economic and Political Development concentrator, even though I may never fully understand the philosophy behind how identity shifts when different countries interact with one another, but having some understanding will improve my development practices. In fact, in current development practices, there is still not enough research or analysis being done with regards to the local context or how that will be affected by the development intervention planned. Considering a non-practical and academic mindset may be necessary in thinking about how we conduct these operations.

Going to such talks reminded me of the holistic approach SIPA offers – a combination of rigorous academic research and effective hands-on practice.

SIPA Finance Club Second Semester Signature Event

There are many SIPA student clubs to participate in (full list here) and the SIPA Finance Club is having an event today.  Details are below.


The board of the SIPA Finance Club is pleased to announce its signature event for the second semester, a round-table discussion on the investment outlook and key trends in emerging markets.  The round-table will be moderated by Peter Marber, SIPA adjunct professor and Global Head of Global Emerging Markets Fixed Income and Currencies at HSBC Halbis Partners.  Guest panelists will include accomplished professionals from across the emerging markets landscape, including asset management, credit risk, political risk, and institutional sales.
Opportunities and Risks in Emerging Markets in the Wake of the Global Financial Crisis

Date: Monday, April 26th
Time: Registration to open at 6:00 pm, with panel to begin promptly at 6:30 pm
Location: International Affairs Building, Room 1501

Moderator: Professor Peter Marber, HSBC Halbis

* Arif Joshi, HSBC Halbis
* Ricardo Mora, Goldman Sachs
* Willis Sparks, Eurasia Group
* Peter Suozzo, SAC Capital
* Gabriel Torres, Moody’s

After the round-table discussion, please join us for a cocktail reception on the 15th floor.

The event is free of charge to SIPA Finance Club members and $10 for non-members. Please bring your ID to the event.

Please note that space is limited and seating will be made available on a first-come, first-served basis.  We strongly recommend arriving at 6:00 pm to ensure a seat. To register on facebook, please click open the link below!/group.php?gid=55527159769
We look forward to seeing you on the evening of the 26th.

Today at SIPA

The Annual Kenneth Arrow Lecture: “Social Choice and Individual Values”

Friday, December 11, 2009, 4:00pm
Altschul Auditorium, 417 International Affairs Building


Amartya Sen, Thomas W. Lamont University Professor and Professor of Economics and Philosophy, Harvard University, is the recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics, and will speak on “Social Choice and Individual Values.” Kenneth Arrow, recipient of the 1972 Nobel Prize in Economics, and Eric Maskin, recipient of the 2007 Nobel Prize in Economics, will serve as Respondents.  SIPA’s Joseph Stiglitz, recipient of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics, will chair.

"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

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