The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

News at WGC2018: Taking Aim at Energy Poverty

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted June 28, 2018

API’s Jessica Lutz contributed to this post.

The numbers are daunting. According to various estimates, 1 billion people on earth don’t have access to electricity and 2 billion don’t have access to reliable energy. Stanford University’s Mark Zoback told the World Gas Conference an estimated 3 billion people cook their meals using sticks, charcoal or dung for fuel. The health implications of that are scary. “If the challenge of providing sustainable energy to the developing world doesn’t intimidate you, you’re not paying attention,” Zoback said.

One of the benefits of U.S. energy abundance is the opportunity to look at ways American energy could benefit others. Domestic energy abundance means the freedom to choose to help others. That wouldn’t have been imaginable before America’s energy renaissance, when energy scarcity necessitated importing natural gas.

That’s fundamentally changed. Today, the United States is the world’s leading producer of natural gas and oil and a leading natural gas exporter. U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas reached 25 countries in 2017, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Abundance is turning into opportunity.

Rachel Kyte, CEO and special representative of the United Nations secretary-general for sustainable energy, said 80 percent of the energy have-nots live in 20 countries, most of them in rural settings. Developing decentralized energy solutions is critically important, Kyte said, while also presenting a cleaner energy mix. Kyte:

“It’s a stain upon the energy world that we can think about our energy future when 40 percent of the world’s population cooks … knowing that (cooking) will imperil their children’s health.”

Rachel Kyte

Certainly, clean, abundant natural gas has a key role to play in tackling the problem. Other panelists pointed to the need for energy infrastructure and transportation. Abdelmoumen Ould Kaddour, CEO of the Algerian energy company Sonatrach, said natural gas is available, but not yet available to everyone.

U.S. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said now is time to see how natural gas can benefit others:

“It’s easy to forget the blessings that energy brings to our daily lives. … It’s easy to forget that there are so many people around the world living in worse conditions. … This is really the perfect moment to think about the way the U.S. can help contribute to the goal of universal access to energy.”


Lightning Round: Investing in Innovation

A quick look at a discussion on the investing needs for the global natural gas industry, highlighting points made by panelists:

Steven Winberg, U.S. Energy Department:

  • Big challenge is the need for more infrastructure, with the most pressing need being pipeline capacity in the Permian Basin
  • Government’s focus is helping stand up pipelines of the future – ensuring reliability, assuring reliability and flexibility, cyber security, reducing methane losses

Edward Johnston, Gas Technology Institute:

  • Research is a lever that, when provided with investment, will generate knowledge; investment is a lever that, when provided with knowledge, will generate money.

Paul Siegele, Chevron Energy Technology Company

  • Global energy demand will increase 25 to 30 percent the next 20 years, requiring significant investment growth.
  • Chevron just announced the future energy fund – $100 million with two goals: to look for more efficient forms of future energy and also to find more efficient future sources.

Gregory Leveille, ConocoPhillips

  • Unconventional (shale) reservoirs contain staggering volumes of natural gas and oil energy
  • Data analytics are driving progress that will transform the natural gas and oil industry – with improvements in drilling results, production uptime and more.
  • Data analytics is the computer revolution of the past.


Sara Ortwein, XTO Energy:

“We all have a responsibility ... to keep improving our operational performance. We have to come together to advocate for sound environmental policies to achieve sustainable results.”

Sara Ortwein

On Camera

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, touring the WGC2018 exhibition floor in the neighborhood of the Power Past Impossible booth:

Perry visits PPI

More #WGC2018 coverage from the @EnergyTomorrow Twitter feed:


Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.