Shell’s Hofmeister: U.S. energy security will still depend on oil and gas

While a wide variety of alternative energy sources are being pursued by oil companies and others in the United States, “real energy security” will depend predominantly on oil and gas in the foreseeable future, Shell Oil Company President John Hofmeister told the GBC board at its November 10 meeting.

Hofmeister attended the GBC board meeting and, later that day, delivered a speech at a luncheon hosted by the GBC and the Downtown Partnership and sponsored by Reliant Energy. The meetings were part of the Shell president’s 50-city public education tour on the topic of energy security.

Among other things, Hofmeister advocates for Congressional action to allow oil companies expanded access to nearly 100 billion barrels of “easy, convenient oil” on the outer continental shelf and on federal lands. Another two trillion barrels could conceivably be obtained from oil shale reserves as technology for extracting oil from shale is perfected, he said.

Hofmeister outlined a number of alternative energy sources that Shell is actively working to cultivate. Such sources include gasified coal, biofuels such as ethanol, liquid natural gas, wind, solar energy and hydrogen fuel cells, which could eventually offer the prospect of a “no-engine car,” he said.

But all of the alternative energy sources, if fully developed, will not achieve more than 25 percent of U.S. energy needs in our lifetime, he said.

“These are issues that are critical for Americans to understand,” Hofmeister said. Americans must accept a “different definition of energy conservation,” he added.

The U.S. has become accustomed to an “entitlement” that “gas is always cheap,” said Hofmeister. But “the easy oil, indeed, has peaked.” Americans must accept that we are moving toward a period of “more difficult oil and gas,” he said.

Sponsors included Reliant Energy, Baltimore Business Journal, and WYPR.


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