Energy economist speaks at Milwaukee Rotary Club

MILWAUKEE — A top energy economist said the United States is at a turning point for energy policy given technological advances and increased production of natural gas.

“Between what we produce in this country and import from Canada, we can become energy self-sufficient from a North American basis,” the American Petroleum Institute’s John Felmy told the Milwaukee Rotary Club on Tuesday. “That’s wonderful in terms of economic and energy security and stimulating the economy in ways we never dreamed of.”

Felmy is the chief economist at the American Petroleum Institute, responsible for overseeing economic and policy analysis. He said the United States is at a major turning point for energy policy because technological advancements are changing the future of energy production, which allows a greater opportunity for job growth.

“The oil and gas industry is a massive industry,” Felmy said. “Almost 10 million people owe their jobs to oil and gas, with over 7 percent of gross domestic product coming from oil and gas production.”

Felmy noted that both natural gas demand and production had gone up in the U.S. last year. Based on this fact, he said he suggests that the U.S. focus its attention on natural gas exports.

“We went for about 12 years where production in gas was virtually flat, and we were talking about importing natural gas,” he said. “Now we’re talking about exporting gas and some of those facilities can be converted to export terminals.”

Felmy said the U.S. oil industry is getting ready to challenge limits on U.S. oil exports, saying they may be hurting America’s economy and noting that other oil ventures in North America have been profitable.

“For example, the Canadian oil sands weren’t economical, and now they are,” he said.“Now we have a vast deposit of oil that can be developed and put into markets. If you look at what they’re worth, it’s roughly ten times Canada’s GDP.”

— By Tyler Krueger