By ADRIENNE BLUME
DALLAS -- Dr. Steven Chu, former US Secretary of
Energy, addressed attendees Monday at the Gas Processors
Association (GPA) general session and offered his thoughts on
the rapidly-changing landscape of natural gas in the US.
Dr. Chu said notable changes include developments
in gas production due to hydraulic fracturing and horizontal
drilling, environmental and safety issues, LNG
terminal regulatory approvals, growing infrastructure
requirements, the heavy-duty trucking sector and environmental and climate
The shale gas advantage.
Dr. Chu shared a forecast for US gas production from 2008
onward, at which time it was expected that gas production would
plunge; however, the shale gas boom has caused US gas output to
rise dramatically and opened the door for LNG and pipeline
exports. Potential shale gas reservoirs can change the energy
landscape of the Americas, Asia and Europe, Dr. Chu said.
Presently, there are 862 Tcf of shale gas reserves
estimated in the US, and 1,275 Tcf estimated in China. China is
desperately seeking to develop its gas reserves to mitigate its
extreme pollution problems, although the country is unwilling
to allow multi-national corporations to drill for shale gas,
which complicates shale gas resource development in this
country, Dr. Chu noted.
Advances in fracing.
Water treatment for hydraulic fracturing operations is another
major issue being tackled by the industry. Dr. Chu also said
that detection methods have improved with the use of
inexpensive diode lasers for the detection of leaking pipes,
fugitive methane emissions from poorly capped wells,
fractures to the surface and other issues. "These lasers are a
very important technology," he noted.
Regulatory policies and
infrastructure requirements. The former Secretary of
Energy also spoke about the regulatory holdups for LNG projects in the US, which he noted
require continuous monitoring. Unlike Newton's first law of
motion, which says that "a body in motion will tend to stay in
motion unless acted on by an outside force," LNG project regulatory approvals "will
only stay in motion if continually pushed," Dr. Chu quipped,
soliciting a round of laughter from the audience.
The US gas transmission system is also in need of
new investment, Dr. Chu said. Growing power outages due to the
US' aging electrical and pipeline system make investment in
this sector particularly critical. Natural gas refueling for
heavy-duty trucks will also need to be developed, and more
heavy-duty trucks will need to be introduced by trucking
companies, to build the use of natural gas as trucking
Climate concerns. Dr. Chu
also spoke about measured temperature increases and observed
climate changes over the past several years, noting that these
effects are not uniform and are still in the process of being
understood. "We know something weird is happening. But we can't
predict these climate models [accurately]," he said. The
speaker quoted the proverb, "If we don't change direction soon,
we'll end up where we are headed," as an analogy for the need
for greater emissions controls from the hydrocarbon processing industry.
Scientists are unsure of the time delay for
temperature increases as a result of climate change, Dr. Chu
noted, but several research scenarios show that increases in
greenhouse gas emissions will eventually cause
global temperatures to rise. "It's a risk scenario," he said,
calling on the US industry to work together to mitigate that
Dr. Chu then posited, "Is it possible to use oil
and natural gas in a highly carbon-constrained world?" Yes, he
said, with the use of carbon capture, utilization (i.e.,
reinjection methods) and sequestration. "Again, this is where
technology will help. Because of the
new carbon monitoring technologies available, if [the carbon]
stays underground for 100 years, it will qualify as carbon
sequestration ... So, the ability to measure carbon dioxide and methane is a big
Dr. Chu closed his remarks by saying, "I hope the
gas and oil industry will move in the direction of reducing
[climate] risk," he said. "These are real risks20% to 30%
risks of significant temperature increaseswhich would be
like adjusting to a new ice age," he cautioned.
MORE NEWS FROM GPA
GPA welcomes attendees to Texas.
Before Chus address, GPA Committee Chair Paul Brewer took
the podium to kick off the 93rd GPA Annual
Convention and introduce Texas Speaker of the House, the
Honorable Joe Straus. Mr. Straus welcomed attendees to Texas
and spoke briefly of the need to cut through "red tape" to
ensure regulatory certainty for gas processing projects.
Mr. Brewer then brought GPA Chairman Joel Moxley to
the podium. Mr. Moxley noted that this year's GPA Annual
Convention attracted more than 2,400 registrants from 22
countries and 620 companies. The GPA monitors activities in 11
key states, including Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana,
New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio (new in 2014), Oklahoma,
Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming.
He then gave a brief review of GPA's history, from
its research roots in the 1920s to the six divisions and
responsibilities of the present-day technical committee. Mr.
Moxley also shared previews of ongoing and upcoming GPA
programs, such as the School of Gas Chromatography and the GPA
Young Professionals organization.
Awards recognize individual,
company contributions. An awards ceremony followed Mr.
Moxley's speech, wherein the 2014 GPA Hanlon Awardthe
midstream's highest honorwas given to Kelcy Warren of
Energy Transfer Partners, for his significant contributions to
mergers and acquisitions in the US midstream industry. Mr.
Warren praised the Texas oil and gas industry for its
performance and opportunities, which he noted was not just
"normal," but, in fact, "great."
The Donald L. Katz Award, which recognizes
excellence in technical research, was given to Dr. William R.
Parrish for his research contributions to the industry,
particularly in the LNG and gas processing sectors, and to the
GPA. Dr. Parrish spoke to the openness and camaraderie of the
greater gas processing community, which he said was extremely
helpful during his early involvement with the gas processing
Lastly, a number of GPA Environmental Excellence
Award and Safety Awards were given to companies that have
demonstrated noteworthy achievements in environmental and safety