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2014-03-16 17:21:00



OGJ.  U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said applications for exporting LNG are moving along but that the oil industry is doing a poor job in its attempts to lift the export ban.

Moniz has said the ban on oil exports, which has been in place since the 1970s, should be reevaluated. The ban falls under the purview of the Department of Commerce.

Speaking March 5 at IHS CERAWeek 2014, Moniz said the oil industry's production of light oil is a factor to consider in the debate. But oil producers have so far been unimpressive in giving reasons for allowing exports.

"To be honest, I don't think the industry has done a very good job of clearly, concisely stating the case," he said. "I would say as an observer, the industry could do a lot better job talking about the drivers for, and what implications would be, for exports, certainly in a country that still imports 5 MMb/d."

On natural gas exports, Moniz said the Department of Energy (DOE) has approved one license for LNG exports and has conditionally approved five more.
"We have many more in the queue, and we are working on the next one at the moment," Moniz said.

If all approved licenses were used at full capacity, 255 MMcm/d (9 Bcf/d) of LNG could be exported, he said.

"I think that the expectation is that exports will begin at the end of 2015," he said.

However, asked about providing LNG to Europe in the face of strife in the Ukraine, Moniz said that the department has authority to grant approval to non-free-trade countries, but not where cargoes end up.

"Geopolitical (factors) are in principle one of the national interest factors, but we don't determine where cargoes go," he said. "We have to think through and perhaps talk with Congress about how we address this set of issues."

Moniz spent time lauding the oil and gas industry's hydraulic fracturing revolution, saying it has sparked economic opportunity, created good jobs and influenced the way technology programs are addressed at the DOE.

Moniz said the industry's ability to effectively extract hydrocarbons will extend coal carbon capture initiatives to the natural gas industry.

"We are putting more emphasis on some of the natural gas technologies," he said. "We are putting a lot of emphasis on the environmental footprint of robust hydrocarbon production, methane emissions and all things of that type."

He deflected a question about the Keystone XL pipeline, deferring to the Department of State about the project.

Moniz stuck to President Barack Obama's "all of the above" energy plan, and spoke frequently about renewable energy and especially solar power. But he has said coal, oil, and gas supply 80% of the nation's energy.

At CERAWeek, he promoted the administration's US $8 billion fossil energy loan program. The program is part of Obama's climate action plan to support innovative, advanced fossil energy projects that avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gases.

The program is soliciting applications on a rolling basis, looking for technologies that might, for example, use "novel oil and gas drilling, stimulation, and completion technologies, including dry fracing, that avoid, reduce, or sequester anthropogenic emission of greenhouse gases."

"The solicitation is completely open for fossil fuels and cost reduction," Moniz said. "Some of the interesting areas obviously involve advanced technologies for carbon capture from fossil combustion. We'll be looking for good ideas."

In the past, Moniz said, oil imports created an impression in the public discourse that the U.S. was enormously dependent upon other energy sources.

"I believe that has changed almost to the stage where we now forget that we are still more or less, along with China, the largest oil importers in the world," he said.

Tags: USA


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