26 March 2002 18:30 [Source: ICIS news]
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (CNI)--Former US intelligence chief Robert Gates expressed concerns here Tuesday about the US supply of natural gas as part of a discussion about the economic impact of the nation’s war on terror.
Gates also said the war on terror will bring economic uncertainty and a slight deceleration in the growth of globalisation but so far it has had no fundamental economic impact.
A career intelligence officer, Gates served as head of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during the presidency of the first George Bush a decade ago.
He offered his views on national security to the industry at the 27th annual International Petrochemicals Conference (IPC). Besides offering suggestions for the industry security itself, Gates also offered observations on the economic implications of a business environment shaken by the 11 September terrorist attacks on the US.
Without directly linking fears of a natural gas shortage to the war on terror, Gates said: "We should all worry about the supply of natural gas. With or without the war on terror we face an energy problem due to the shortage of gas."
While outlook for supplies of crude oil appear appears adequate, Gates said the nation’s reliance on natural gas – a reliance felt keenly in the US petrochemical industry - leaves it vulnerable on that score.
He said the nation needs to develop alternative sources of energy as one way to deal with the problem.
Regarding the global economic impacts of the war on terror, Gates said: "I suspect that it would affect it only to the extent that the US economy is affected."
He said heightened security measures will slow globalisation but only in terms of inconvenience. And, he said workers abroad probably face no greater danger now than they did before 11 September.
Gates said that the terrorists who orchestrated those attacks have been at war with the US for a decade.
He said the greatest threat to the economy may come from the uncertainty of future moves by the US and predicted the George W Bush administration likely will take some sort of action against Iraq later this year.
Gates predicted: "The time ahead will be dangerous and frustrating."
Sponsored by the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA), the IPC concludes Tuesday.
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