US is its own threat in sabotaging shale-gas boom – AFPM Drevna

21 March 2013 20:34  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Energy security and a manufacturing renaissance are well within the reach of the US, but only if the nation avoids enacting disastrous policies, the head of the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) said on Thursday.

"America must have a realistic energy policy that relies on strategy and strength rather than weakness and economic fallacy," said Charles Drevna, president of the AFPM.

He gave the keynote address during the IHS World Petrochemical Conference.

"No foreign power can destabilise America's vast natural resources. No foreign power can prevent us from developing infrastructure," he said.

"We can only do it to ourselves. Quite honestly, we've been doing that for far too long," Drevna said.

He warned that government regulation could prevent the US from fully developing its reserves of shale gas and oil, made available by the advent of new drilling technology.

Groups are concerned that hydraulic fracturing, crucial for accessing shale reserves, could damage the environment.

Drevna warned that local and well-funded activists, in fact, are waging a war against the country's energy industry.

Concerns about the environment persist despite what Drevna called substantial evidence to the contrary.

"This industry is regularly developing new and environmentally safe ways to bring new raw materials to the globe," Drevna said. "There is no issue with fracking beyond the rant of anti-hydrocarbon activists."

In dealing with such a threat, he added, "It is absolutely wrong to believe that those wishing to destroy our very essence are willing to compromise."

While there is nothing wrong with compromise, Drevna stressed that compromise is different from appeasement. He quoted Winston Churchill, adding that an appeaser is someone who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.

However, if US policy allows business to develop the nation's energy resources, the country could lay the groundwork for a manufacturing renaissance, Drevna said.

"I am very optimistic that North America's pathway to energy security and a manufacturing renaissance are undoubtedly within our reach," he said.

"We need to cast away the myth that our nation is resource poor. That is simply not true," Drevna said.

Already, the advent of shale gas has given substantial cost advantages to petrochemical producers in the US. As a result, several companies have announced plans to build new plants in the US.

"We are on the cusp of a manufacturing renaissance, which is unprecedented," Drevna said.

For its part, the AFPM is joining with Carnegie Mellon University to convene multiple meetings that will discuss ways to draw on shale gas to strengthen the nation's manufacturing base, Drevna said.

"Our goal is to identify the actions that the United States must take to make the optimal use of our abundant low-cost shale gas to develop a manufacturing-renaissance roadmap," he said.

The IHS World Petrochemical Conference lasts through Thursday.

By: Al Greenwood
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