CERAWeek ’14: Siemens lauds US energy leaders for technology focus

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HOUSTON -- The modern US energy revolution should continue for the foreseeable future because its leaders have shown a commitment to innovative technologies, according to Joe Kaeser, CEO of Germany-based engineering and integrated technologies company Siemens.

Kaeser delivered the keynote address on Wednesday's "natural gas day" at the IHS CERAWeek 2014 conference.

"The US is not only paving the way for the manufacturing sector because energy is so cheap and stable here right now," said Kaeser. "The US has another advantage going for it, and that's its innovation leadership in the area of digitization.

"Some call it the internet of things. We call it 'Industry 4.0' in Germany. Many companies in the US have already started to invest in leaner, more efficient and software-driven high-tech production."

Kaeser referred to the US energy transformation as a "once-in-a-lifetime moment", noting that his company had invested over $25 billion in the US just over the past decade.

"You have the knowledge, and you have the right people in the field of digitalization to drive this transformation of your industry landscape," he said. "That's why we invest here."

The Siemens CEO said the US still has "questions to answer' to determine how the new energy landscape plays out over the coming decades. Two examples, he said, were whether to export LNG and how to transport energy within the US and North America once it is extracted.

But regardless of what the ultimate US decision is, Kaeser said his company would be prepared and ready to invest.

"If the US decides to keep most of its new natural gas, we provide technologies that make pipelines unmatched in terms of efficiency," he said.

"If pipelines aren't developed and rail transportation is the best alternative, we build the most efficient locomotives in the world.

"And if the US decides it is in its best interest to export gas, we provide innovative LNG technology as well."

Kaeser said he expects the US to likely become the world's largest oil and gas producer this year, all while becoming significantly less dependent on imports from foreign locations such as the Middle East.

"The US is once again the place to be," he said. "More and more global companies are seeking to enlarge their footprint here. 

"We are all witnessing, and participating in, the reindustrialization of the United States. I think it's fair to say that the development of horizontal drilling may have been the biggest shift of balance in the global economy since China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO)."

Because of that, opportunities are abundant within the nation's oil and gas sector, Kaeser explained. And companies such as his are doing all they can to be prepared.

"We're ready to go, because we're on top of the global energy agenda," he said. "And we believe in the US energy story."

The IHS CERAWeek 2014 conference continues through Friday at the Hilton Americas in downtown Houston.

Photo by F. Carter Smith, Bloomberg

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