Speakers address US shale gas, LNG exports, transparency

By OGJ editors

In plenary sessions Mar. 7 at IHS CERA Week in Houston, speakers echoed the message that the shale gas revolution in the US is beneficial to the economy by bringing jobs and security of supply and low prices for heating and electric power generation.

The need for producers to be transparent was also a prevailing theme of the day, as some company leaders called for full disclosure of fracing fluids to gain public trust.

Panelists also frequently commented on the probability of exporting LNG from the US.

During the morning plenary, Anadarko Petroleum Corp. Chief Executive Officer James Hackett suggested that it will be difficult for producers to convince landowners to develop resources on their properties and then export that gas to other countries.

Sam Laidlaw, chief executive officer of UK energy company Centrica PLC, emphasized that security of demand is an important factor for gas exporters just as security of supply is important for importers. The UK and the rest of Europe are short on gas supplies, and European gas import infrastructure is already in place. LNG satisfied 30% of UK gas demand in 2011, Laidlaw added.

During the morning’s second gas plenary, Daniel Poneman, deputy secretary of energy with the US Department of Energy, said DOE is weighing the impacts of the US exporting LNG. This net assessment of pros and cons, Poneman said, will evaluate a multitude of factors, including the effect of such exports on gross domestic product, gas prices in the US, availability of supply, employment, and others.

Thomas Walters, president of gas and power marketing at ExxonMobil Corp., talked about using natural gas to fuel vehicles. While it is starting to emerge in certain areas, cost is a hurdle, he said.

Walters said it makes sense to power vehicles with natural gas and addressed how the market and consumers will move toward it. For it to be successful, consumers must pick up the concept and pull it toward them, Walters said, rather than having it pushed towards them.

Luncheon keynote speaker Royal Dutch Shell PLC Chief Executive Officer Peter Voser said the industry needs to do a better job of convincing the world that gas is a force for good by way of energy security for North America, job creation, reduced energy costs, and increased manufacturing, including the rebirth of the US petrochemical industry. Voser also said companies need to be more transparent to ensure trust.

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