NPRA ’11: US shale gas faces ‘artificial roadblocks’ – NPRA head

28 March 2011 01:20  [Source: ICIS news]

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (ICIS)--US shale gas development faces “artificial roadblocks” that must be overcome to create a competitive chemical sector, the head of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) said on Sunday.

“We have been handed a gift in shale gas and abundant natural gas liquids. We simply must develop these resources or we will be set back for decades,” said Charles Drevna, president of the NPRA, on the sidelines of the International Petrochemical Conference (IPC).

“I’m very confident that rational thought will prevail, but policy makers have been continually throwing artificial roadblocks to development,” he added.

One major concern is the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) putting together a scientific panel on studying the impact of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for the production of shale gas without the input of the chemical industry, said James Cooper, vice president, petrochemicals for NPRA.

“The EPA is already putting together a scientific panel, but to my knowledge there has been no industry input. We are going to ask to participate,” said Cooper.

“Policy decisions stemming from the study could stand in the way to tap into these resources,” he added.

The EPA’s study on fracking and its impact on drinking water will include the full lifespan of water in the process, from acquisition of the water, through the mixing of chemicals and actual fracturing, to the post-fracturing stage, including the management of wastewater, according to the EPA website.

The NPRA is not opposed to regulation of shale gas, but is against rules prohibitive to development, noted Drevna.

“There is an opportunity to build a cracker on the east coast of the US. The infrastructure is there, but an investment requires regulatory certainty,” said Cooper.

The NPRA is requesting a “fair hearing” on shale gas, said Drevna.

“We have a vast resource and there are ways to develop it safely. We simply can’t afford to throw artificial roadblocks in the way,” said the NPRA head.

“There has been a tendency for government to exclude industry in these decisions. We don’t want to be shut out of the process,” he added.

Hosted by the NPRA, the IPC continues through Tuesday.

By: Joseph Chang
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