CERAWeek '18: Rick Perry says U.S. set to unleash American energy—and technology—around the world

By Alex Endress, News Editor, World Oil on 3/7/2018

HOUSTON -- America’s development of hydraulic fracturing technology has enabled a new wave of oil and gas abundance in the U.S., and according to U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the country must focus on maximizing exports for its energy, as well as its technologies.

While delivering opening remarks at CERAWeek on March 7 in Houston, Perry described the push to ramp up American exports, along with investment in the hydrocarbon industry, as the beginning of a “new energy realism.” The former Texas governor elaborated further, stating that the Trump administration recognizes that the oil and gas industry is a boon to the American economy, with recent affirmations that include rollbacks in regulation and tax cuts. He said that while vast resources unlocked by unconventional shale activity have boosted the U.S. economy, such technological innovations could be duplicated in energy-starved regions of the world to increase energy security and quality of life in other nations.

“It is by embracing this new energy realism that we will all move towards greater energy security and a brighter, more prosperous future,” he said, suggesting that growth in supplies of oil and gas resources is still needed to overcome global energy poverty. “Let all nations embrace it, and the spirit of imagination and innovation that drives it, for their own sake and for the sake of the world.”

Perry also addressed climate change concerns. He noted that while he believes such concerns are legitimate, the world could accept natural gas production as a long-term bridge between traditional hydrocarbon energy and renewables. “We don’t have to choose between growing our economy and caring for our environment,” Perry said. “By embracing innovation over regulation, we can benefit both.” He said that from 2005 to 2017, while growth in unconventional shale activity was growing, the U.S. reduced carbon emissions 14%.

At the Department of Energy’s national labs, Perry said his staff is actively working to make renewable energy sources more powerful, and to make fossil fuels cleaner, with more efficient batteries and operations like carbon capture. In fact, Perry mentioned that he would be interested in creating a global alliance of countries, focused on reducing emissions associated with fossil fuels.

On U.S. energy infrastructure, he said that he wants to see development of a large-scale petrochemical hub in the Appalachian region, with a production capacity on par with the Houston area. Events such as Hurricane Harvey demonstrate the need for other refining bastions—for if a larger, Category 5 hurricane had hit the Houston Ship Channel, the country’s long-term petrochemical footprint would be severely damaged. Moreover, the Appalachian region encompasses the Marcellus and Utica plays, and investing in new energy infrastructure in this area could boost the economies in states like Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio, he said.

The Secretary briefly mentioned U.S. trade agreements, such as NAFTA, during a Q&A period, saying that “just because that’s the way that they’ve been done for 20 years or even longer in some cases—I don’t consider anything to be particularly sacrosanct.

“I’m open to conversations about changing the way that we have historically done business, about certain parameters that we have put in place—sometimes just arbitrarily.”

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