Oil group CEO: Amid price drop, US set to be global leader

HENRY C. JACKSON, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Plunging oil prices have hurt American companies in the short run, but increased U.S. production means that the country is on the path to become a global leader in oil production, the head of the U.S. oil and gas industry's top lobbying arm said Tuesday.

Falling oil prices have empowered the United States and weakened OPEC and Russia, said Jack Gerard, the CEO of the American Petroleum Institute. The result is that increased U.S. production in North Dakota and elsewhere has "fundamentally reordered the world's energy markets," he said.

Stocks in energy companies have tumbled as oil prices have dropped in recent weeks. But Gerard, speaking Tuesday at an annual "State of American Energy" event in Washington, said price fluctuations haven't affected the long-term prospects for oil demand.

"The price today has some impacts ... but longer term you will see the demand for our product continue to grow," he said. "I can't predict the price. But what it clearly shows is what we're doing in the United States has implications for the global market and the U.S. market."

Gerard used a speech to oil and gas officials and others to lay out the industries' top goals for 2015. Among the goals he outlined: ending a ban on exporting U.S. oil abroad, eliminating a renewable fuel standard that requires a certain amount of gas be made with biofuels, and rolling back proposed Environmental Protection Agency action on emissions.

He said a U.S. ban on exporting oil was a "relic of America's era of energy scarcity" and didn't account for rapid growth in energy production. The Renewable Fuel Standard has "outlived its usefulness," he said. And increased regulations create uncertainty in the market.

"Multibillion-dollar industries cannot operate on government guesswork," he said.

Gerard was bullish about America's energy future, saying that if the right energy policies are pursued the United States can eliminate its dependence on other countries for energy. He said he sees "the opportunity to permanently diminish what have been our nation's biggest economic and geopolitical vulnerabilities."

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