Energy author says industry excited again about North America

08 March 2012 20:28  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The mood of the oil and gas industry has changed noticeably in the past few years because of new discoveries in the US and Canada, said energy expert and author Daniel Yergin on Thursday.

“It seems to me that there is a sense of being back in business in North America,” said Yergin, chairman of IHS CERA, speaking to the news media at the company’s 31st annual week-long energy conference in Houston.

“I think there’s a lot of excitement in the industry about the possibilities in North America,” Yergin added.

The excitement stems from shale gas and “tight oil” plays stretching from Pennsylvania to Texas to Nebraska, North Dakota and Canada, Yergin said. Tight oil is a lighter crude from rock formations with low permeability and low porosity.

“If shale gas was the new thing, then tight oil is the new, new thing,” Yergin said.

The shale and tight oil discoveries have had a huge positive psychological impact, he added.

“It’s just changed the political discourse on energy,” Yergin said, noting favourable references to the natural gas industry in President Barack Obama’s State of  the Union address in January.

Yergin added that Obama’s recent “all of the above” pitch about developing numerous sources in seeking US energy independence must have baffled Republicans who were used to being on the opposite end of the spectrum from the president.

“And the Republicans were thinking, ‘Hey, we’ve been saying that for years,’” Yergin chuckled.

But even with new discoveries, Yergin said it was too soon to think that the US was close to foregoing its dependence on foreign oil.

“We’re still 45% net importers,” Yergin said, referring to the US’s share of oil imports. “We’re still at the beginning of this tight oil revolution and nobody knows how it’s going to play out.”

The IHS CERAWeek conference continues until Friday.

By: Lane Kelley
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