Moniz emphasizes work with other agencies to implement QER proposals

Other federal departments and agencies will need to be brought into the process of implementing recommendations outlined in the initial Quadrennial Energy Review, US Sec. of Energy Ernest G. Moniz told the US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“A few years ago, as we were contemplating this, we met with many members of Congress who were interested in this QER because it would bring many parts of many agencies together to take a comprehensive look,” he said. “Now that we have what I hope can be a roadmap, I want to engage in discussions with those agencies and both chambers of Congress on ways we can move forward.”

Responding to Ranking Minority Member Maria E. Cantwell’s (D-Wash.) question regarding issues raised by the growth of crude oil shipments by rail, Moniz said the problem of agricultural products being displaced deserves more attention. US Sec. of Transportation Anthony Foxx also is interested in a cooperative study with DOE of crude oil’s volatility during rail, truck, and marine transportation, he added.

To address critical energy data gaps in rail transportation of energy commodities and supplies, Moniz urged Congress to fund the administration’s fiscal 2016 budget request for the US Energy Information Administration to address critical data gaps and continue sharing data with the Surface Transportation Board.

When it came to crude oil exports, however, he said the US Department of Commerce primarily would be responsible for addressing this issue, although he personally believed it’s worth examining. “Mexico also has proposed crude oil swaps, which I think also could be considered,” he said.

“It’s very important in any discussion to include the fact that we still important 7 million b/d of crude oil. That’s in contrast to natural gas,” the secretary said after committee member John Hoeven (R-ND) raised the crude exports question again.

Impact on US production

“The issue in the end is whether lifting a crude export ban would result in a significant production increase. I don’t think that’s been considered sufficiently,” Moniz said. “Certainly in terms of what’s happened to oil prices, it’s not certain, but it needs to be addressed.”

That response did not satisfy Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-Alas.). “This is one of those connects where, if you have policy decisions made about infrastructure based on what exists today, you’re not going to be prepared for tomorrow as new sources are brought on line,” she told Moniz.

“As we talk about energy infrastructure policies going forward, we need to look at some of the antiquated policies we have in place such as oil exports,” Murkowski said. “I’m going to keep pushing on this.”

She said that while the QER may not have looked specifically at what needs to be done offshore in Alaska or within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, “it does speak to this nexus between our domestic production and energy infrastructure.

“We’re still looking at permitting delays not just for Keystone XL, but for other cross-border pipelines,” Murkowski said. “We have so much going with our neighbors to the north and the south. Right now, we can’t get moving for even a simple swap with Mexico of our light crude for their heavy.”

Moniz replied, “We need to make our dialogue with these two countries more robust than it’s been. When I went to Ottawa last year, it was the first time a US energy secretary had been there in more than a decade. We at least are getting together with their energy ministers more frequently. I will be in Mexico in May to meet with their energy and environment ministers. We’re picking up the pace.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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