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Carroll School of Management

Peter Voser

Chief Executive Officer, Royal Dutch Shell

Excerpt from remarks to Boston College’s Chief Executives’ Club of Boston

March 21, 2013


Here in North America, the energy outlook is much different from what it was just a few years ago as a result of the American shale revolution. This, combined with the increased oil production in the Gulf of Mexico, the potential of major deposits in the Arctic, and the growth in tight oil and heavy oil—including the oil sands—North America’s energy picture is much brighter.

Improvements in technology known as hydraulic fracturing are unlocking huge volumes of oil and gas. This technology has the potential to do so in the same way elsewhere around the world, as well. The United States has led the world in developing these technologies, and is already reaping the benefits of its deployment, as you heard at the beginning from Eric, in terms of greater energy security, economic growth, and job growth—job growth not in the energy industry, but in the manufacturing industry.

As recently as 2008, North America was facing the end of its natural gas self-sufficiency. Prices soared, as you may all remember, and plans were made to build import terminals for liquefied natural gas, what we call LNG. Today, those plans have been mothballed, prices are down by two-thirds, and there is discussion of LNG export. As a low-priced fuel and a chemicals feedstock, natural gas and gas liquids have the potential to revitalize America’s heavy industry and open up new markets in transportation, for example.

There is talk of the United States becoming self-sufficient in energy by 2030. As production of American shale oil increases, traditional oil suppliers to the United States are diverting cargos to new markets. Because utilities have been switching to natural gas from coal to generate electricity, [carbon dioxide] emissions are down significantly. In fact, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, natural gas has displaced nearly 10 percent of the coal used to generate electricity in the U.S. over the past two years.