Department of Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham addressed the National Petroleum Council yesterday in Washington, D.C.
The Secretary called for a “comprehensive, balanced approach to greater energy efficiency and new sources of natural gas” and called on both Congress and the NPC to do their part to ensure the nation’s future energy needs.
“The National Energy Policy we introduced contained a number of very specific policy recommendations aimed at shoring up our sagging energy infrastructure, encouraging conservation and energy efficiency, diversifying our fuel mix, increasing domestic production, building stronger international partnerships, and much more,” the Secretary said.
Abraham urged Congress to pass a comprehensive energy bill, including petroleum production in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), as well as building a natural gas pipeline from Alaska to the continental United States.
“According to the United States Geological Survey, ANWR holds between 5.7 and 16 billion barrels of recoverable reserves,” Abraham said. “To use one measure, it is equal to almost 19 years worth of imports from Saudi Arabia.”
The Secretary addressed critics of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, citing its need from a point of national security. “The reserve is for the long-term protection of the American people, not to cut the price of gas by two cents.”
Abraham also reported that oil production is up more than five million barrels per day versus the same time period last year. He also announced that the Saudi Oil Minister, Ali al-Naimi, has agreed to prepare to fill orders up to 10.5 million barrels per day.
The Secretary formally asked the NPC undertake studies of American refining capacity, identifying the nation’s future demand and examine how worldwide capacity will impact the nation’s access to energy products. He also asked for a study to issues related to the nation’s inventory levels with a September 2006 deadline.
“I understand that this is a tight timeframe, but it is my hope this information can be put to use by the end of the year in a way that will help bring greater long-term stability to petroleum markets and a greater degree of certainty to American consumers,” Abraham said. “In the meantime, be assured that our Administration will continue to monitor developments affecting the prices of gasoline.”