Shell Oil President at Platts Energy Outlook Forum: Government and Business Can Work Together To Overcome "Divide"

Oil Exec, Economists, Industry Experts Examine Global Energy Issues at Sixth Annual Event

Nov 29, 2012, 17:08 ET from Platts

NEW YORK , Nov. 29, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The shale gas "revolution" is "redrawing the geopolitical map of the world," and Shell has a four-pronged approach toward capitalizing on that new supply, the president of Shell Oil Company told the 2012 Platts Global Energy Outlook Forum "Fuel Fight: Environment Meets Economics" Thursday in New York City.

Marvin Odum, giving the keynote address at the Forum's luncheon, said his company has four "pillars" of its gas strategy. He cited specific instances where Shell is looking at projects that would make those "pillars" actual projects.

"The gas revolution is a creator of new jobs, a catalyst for a renaissance in American manufacturing, a bridge to future renewables and with carbon capture and storage, a destination fuel for an increasingly carbon-constrained economy," Odum said.

Odum made his remarks before an audience of more than a hundred energy executives, government officials and other industry representatives. The Forum, now in its sixth year, consisted of two panel discussions on challenges and vulnerabilities of the world's energy systems, including the U.S. shale boom and nuclear safety.

A recurring theme of the day was the ever-present tension and conflicts between the energy industry, government and society, which Odum called a "divide" that did not have to exist.

Speaking to recent issues within Shell Oil Company, which is the U.S. arm of Royal Dutch Shell, Odum said the company's drilling program in federal waters offshore Alaska is a sign of a "real example where business and government work together to secure both the opportunity and the protection." (Shell received limited permission to drill in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas this summer, but the limitations on the permit required the company to halt operations for this year before it reached the hydrocarbon-bearing zone.)

To balance the "rewards and the risks" inherent in drilling in such an environmentally sensitive area, "government, society and business (must) work with one another to define expectations, agree on operations standards, and collaborate on solutions," Odum said. Both the Bush and Obama administrations "did their due diligence" and Shell was issued drilling permits.

"I believe that this administration sees these resources as critical and strategic to the nation and part of their 'all of the above' energy strategy," Odum said.

Odum also noted in his address that even as the U.S. is dealing with a glut of natural gas that is creating the opportunities for the four pillars, there are still major supply/demand balance issues for the world going forward.

"It's true that the world's total supply of energy has never failed to meet demand...not yet, anyway," Odum said. "And it's true that technology breakthroughs have resulted in such a short-term glut of natural gas in this country that fears about supply seem irrelevant."

But long-term global demand continues to rise, Odum noted. "Even if energy efficiencies reduce growth by 20 percent, and even if ordinary rates of supply growth boost supply by 50 percent, we could still face a gap between supply and demand equivalent to the size of the entire industry in the year 2000."

Earlier during the Forum - which featured opening remarks from World Energy Council Chairman Pierre Gadonneix – participants discussed numerous topics, including recent fuel prices, climate change, natural disasters and elections, during two roundtable discussions, "The Technology Battle" and "Global Face-Off: Governments Lock Horns with Industry."

Robert Bryce, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and Forum panelist, said renewable energy "may be a darling of politicos and the Green/Left, but it simply cannot provide the enormous scale of energy that the world demands at prices consumers can afford."

"Furthermore, the growth in the coal market is swamping any gains that might be had from renewables," Bryce said.  "In 2011 alone, global coal consumption increased by about by 3.9 million barrels of oil equivalent per day. That's about the same amount of energy as is provided by all global non-hydro renewable sources, such as wind, solar, and biomass."

To the contrary, said fellow panelist Jigar Shah, founder of SunEdison and former CEO of Carbon War Room. "We can solve climate change," Shah said. "The deployment of cost-effective technologies we have invented since the 1970s represent the largest wealth creation opportunity on the planet."

The Forum, which this year sponsored by Fortune magazine, is held annually in association with the Platts Global Energy Awards, a program now in its 14th year, which recognizes exemplary industry leadership and innovation in more than a dozen performance categories.

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