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Cheap Energy Could ‘Re-industrialize’ America


Posted 2/3/2013

A new report paints a rosy picture of America’s energy future and points to some surprising repercussions for a nation suddenly awash in cheap oil and gas.

In its “Energy Outlook 2030,” the London-based energy firm BP asserts that the United States will be 99 percent energy self-sufficient by 2030, largely due to shale gas and oil produced by hydraulic fracturing.

As recently as 2005, the nation was only 70 percent self-sufficient.

“The U.S. will likely surpass Russia and Saudi Arabia in 2013 as the largest liquids producer in the world (crude and biofuels),” the report states.

Also, the U.S. Energy Information Administration has forecast that the nation could become a net exporter of liquefied natural gas as early as 2016, according to The Diplomat, a current affairs online magazine.

“The U.S. will not be increasingly dependent on energy imports, with energy set to reinvigorate its economy,” said BP’s chief executive Bob Dudley.

The shale gas boom has already cut household energy bills by an estimated $1,000 a year and spurred a wave of new industrial investment, reversing a 30-year period of declining manufacturing jobs.

At least five new U.S. steel plants are planned that would use gas instead of coal to purify iron ore, according to Bloomberg News.

Chemical and fertilizer companies also are said to be planning new gas-fueled plants.

“Other companies from around the world that consume gas may be attracted to move their facilities to the U.S. market, which would then provide even more steel consumption and manufacturing capacity,” said Aldo Mazzaferro, a steel analyst at Macquarie Capital USA Inc. in New York.

“It could result in a re-industrialization of the U.S.”

The BP report noted that significant exploitation of major shale gas and oil resources has taken place thus far only in the United States and Canada.

The natural gas boom in America will also lead to a significant reduction in greenhouse gases, since natural gas-fired power plants produce around half as much carbon emissions as coal-fired plants, and just 1 percent as much sulfur oxide.

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