Hofmeister’s Steps to Energy Security–Part 2 (of 4)

shell.jpgYesterday we blogged on remarks that Shell Oil Co. president John Hofmeister delivered on Monday at the National Press Club. Mr. Hofmeister’s viewpoint and recommendations should be read by any American who drives a car, rides a bus, uses an elevator, has refrigerator and works in a heated home, school, office or factory.

His first two steps toward energy security were that we should continue to seek new conventional oil and gas sources (such as the ones recently announced in the Gulf of Mexico) and that we should utilize the Colorado oil shale deposits. Now let’s summarize his next three recommendations for a better U.S. energy future:

* Use more coal. Technology has advanced to the point where coal can be used more extensively without the environmental downsides. The United States is king when it comes to coal because we have so much of it and using it this way makes sense.

* Use natural gas more effectively. American industry needs natural gas to operate. In fact, manufacturers use one-third of all the natural gas produced here. If we want a strong manufacturing sector, we need more of this fuel to keep growing. It’s particularly important for the petrochemical, fertilizer and steel industries. Mr. Hofmeister pointed out the limitations due to Outer Continental Shelf leasing restrictions and their obvious constraint on supply and called for more LNG (liquefied natural gas) facilities too. After all, the United States has the same number of LNG ports as South Korea.

* Go after alternative fuels. Shell is a major investor in cellulosic ethanol, which can be made from straw among other things. Attending the Press Club luncheon was their partner in this endeavor, an executive from Iogen, which leads in development of this kind of ethanol.