UPDATE: Shell's Voser Says Fracking Regulation Needed

CEO says shale gas could create manufacturing rebirth in the United States.

UPDATED 5:07 p.m. EDT 3/7/2012

HOUSTON -- Royal Dutch Shell PLC CEO Peter Voser said March 7 the oil and gas industry should demand regulation and enforcement on hydraulic fracturing to "ensure everyone in the industry does the job right."

Voser spoke about natural gas issues as a keynote speaker at the CERA Week energy conference in Houston.

Following his speech, Voser told reporters affordable and abundant resources of natural gas in the United States could create a manufacturing resurgence in the country.

"If you have affordable and abundantly available natural gas, that clearly gives you a competitive advantage from a cost and pricing point of view in many manufacturing industries and I think there could be a great restrengthening, rebirth of manufacturing in the United States," he said.

Voser was responding to a question by a reporter about whether the low prices could encourage European manufacturers to locate plants in the United States.

Voser also said he believes the United States will utilize most of its natural gas resources to fuel domestic needs rather than exporting the gas overseas.

Fracking Transparency

The oil and gas industry must communicate more effectively with the public regarding the safety and environmental impact of natural gas drilling, Voser said.

"We face issues around the safety and environmental impact of developing these resources," Voser said. "This has generated increased public skepticism."

Shell supports President Obama's call for companies involved in hydraulic fracturing to disclose the chemicals used in the process.

"We support regulations to promote transparency and public engagement by the tight and shale gas industry," he said.

Voser noted that Shell already publicly discloses some of its fracking chemicals through the FracFocus online registry. Supplier contracts sometimes limit what the company can disclose, Voser said.

FracFocus is managed by the nonprofit Ground Water Protection Council and Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, a multistate government agency.

Shell also is working with the Environmental Defense Fund to measure methane emissions from natural gas production in the United States, Voser said.

While natural gas will play a greater role in future energy needs, growth from unconventional oil plays, including sands and tight oil, could significantly cut oil imports into the United States from the Middle East and West Africa, Voser said.

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