Shale boom changes Obama's tone, but action is needed - lobbyist

16 May 2013 23:16  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The US shale oil and gas boom has changed the energy tone emanating from President Barack Obama’s administration, but delayed decision-making could prevent it from reaching its full economic capability, a manufacturing lobbyist said on Thursday.

The talk of wind, solar and renewable energy that dominated the early part of Obama’s first term has been squelched by the economic windfall that has been the shale boom, said Ross Eisenberg, vice president for energy and resources policy with the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). He spoke at the 2nd Annual National Association for Business Economics (NABE) Industry Conference.

“It’s a completely different conversation in Washington now. … There is an overall sense that [the Obama administration wants] this to succeed,” he said.

But there still are some mixed messages being sent to the energy and petrochemical industries from the administration, Eisenberg said, with companies looking to export natural gas and coal facing long delays in getting decisions from the Department of Energy (DOE).

“If you apply for a license, you should get an up-or-down answer in a reasonable amount of time,” he said.

Eisenberg does not expect that to change when the next big debate comes – and in short order.

“In six months time, the debate will shift from natural gas exports to crude oil exports,” he said.

With the substantial increase in domestic production thanks to the shale boom, as well as continued declining crude oil demand in the country, the US could be poised to export crude oil in the coming years – but “doing so would take an act of Congress”, Eisenberg said.

It literally would, as the Export Administration Act of 1979 banned the export of US crude oil to all countries but neighbours Canada and Mexico.

Eisenberg said that overturning the ban would be a boon to domestic producers and the US economy, but he was not optimistic of that occurring in today’s partisan Washington political environment.

“I don’t know if they can agree on much, let alone on crude oil exports,” he said.

By: Jeremy Pafford
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