U.S. Energy Policies and Realities

Some oil executives see a disconnect between U.S. energy policies and the realities of today's energy situation. Houston Public Radio's Ed Mayberry reports.

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Speakers looked at U.S. dependence on foreign oil imports and $3 a gallon gasoline at the three-day U.S.-Arab Economic Forum at the Hilton Americas-Downtown. William Berry from Houston-based ConocoPhillips says proponents of reducing oil imports from the Middle East are doing so at the very time that relief from tight supplies and high prices depends on encouraging Middle East producers to expand capacity. Berry says first, the U.S. needs to discard the illusion that energy security can only come through the creation of energy independence.

For major energy consumers like the United States the goal should be diversity of supply. Last year's hurricanes knocked out 135 million barrels of oil production over a six month period, but there was no significant shortage of gasoline because record amounts of imported product flowed into the United States from all over the world. That was diversity of supply in action.

Berry says there are several things the U.S. government needs to do.

Fuel efficiency standards for new passenger cars are the same today as they were 21 years ago, based on goals that were set 31 years ago. Second, the U.S. needs an energy policy that promotes development of the domestic oil and gas supplies.

Shell Oil's John Hofmeister echoes Berry's call for diversity of supply.

The reality is we are energy dependent and that's actually good news because there is an abundance of energy out there and there is an abundance of technology to produce that energy and there is an abundance of financial capital and there is fortunately human resource available to bring all that together to create energy for tomorrow.

Hoffmeister says energy isolation is naive, and energy dependence is uncomfortable. But he says energy inter-dependence makes a lot of sense. Exxon Mobil's Stephen Simon says in the end, a lot rides on our relationship with the Middle East.

The stability and success of the global energy system rests on this relationship and it is a relationship that has proven to be very productive over the years. At a time of political tension worldwide this fact can be easily forgotten but it is undeniably true. Continued economic progress here and around the world depends on the continued success of U.S. Arab energy ties.

Oil industry leaders add that Iraq's instability has kept foreign oil companies from investing in reconstruction. Shell's John Hofmeister says progress could still be a few years away. Ed Mayberry, Houston Public Radio News.

Bio photo of Ed Mayberry

Ed Mayberry

Local Anchor, All Things Considered

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with many of those years spent on the rock 'n' roll disc jockey side of the business...