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NPRA: Executives stress need for jobs, strong energy policy

Marilyn Radler
OGJ Senior Editor-Economics

SAN ANTONIO, Mar. 21 -- The US needs an energy policy that recognizes the importance of the jobs and the products provided by petrochemical and refining industry, stated National Petrochemical & Refiners Association Pres. Charles T. Drevna at a Mar. 20 press conference that kicked off NPRA’s annual meeting in San Antonio.

Drevna said the world will rely on fossil fuels for the rest of this century and probably well beyond, and that US policymakers must realize that the refining and petrochemical business is part of the solution to meeting the country’s energy needs rather than part of the problem.

Also, in light of the country’s current high unemployment rate, the US needs the jobs that refineries and petrochemical plants provide, he said.

There is room for all sources of energy, including new “green” sources, Drevna said, adding that after the research and development phases of these new sources conclude, they should be required to compete in the marketplace without government subsidies.

NPRA supports legislation introduced by US Sen. James M. Inhofe’s (R-Okla.) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) that would stop the US Environmental Protection Agency from using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions (OGJ Online, Mar. 16, 2011).

Independence vs. security
Considering the major world events grabbing headlines currently, including the US budget deficit debate and unrest in the Middle East and North Africa, Drevna doesn’t expect a US energy policy in the next 2 years, though, and opposes the notion of energy independence.

The NPRA president cited Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which in 2005 led to a surge of oil product imports to meet energy needs in certain parts of the US that refiners on the US Gulf Coast could not meet.

Rather, Drevna favors energy security to ensure that US energy needs are met, and he said the refining and petrochemical industry needs to do a better job of communicating this message.

Addressing recent events that have cut crude exports from Libya, Drevna said he opposes a withdrawal from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve at this point. The SPR is not designed as a price-control mechanism and only should be used in a shortage of supply, which refiners in the US are not seeing now, he said.

Also addressing the press conference was NPRA Chairman William Klesse, who also serves as chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Valero Energy Corp.

“[Energy] prices are going up, and we should be looking for resources everywhere,” Klesse said, referring to US President Barack Obama’s trip to Brazil, which is currently drilling for oil in deep water and increasing its crude output.

Klesse stressed the need for the jobs that a resumption of offshore drilling would bring, as well as the need for refining and petrochemical jobs in the US.

He also favors approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to carry Canadian crude to the US Gulf Coast, since this heavy crude is ideal for the coking capacity in place there.

Contact Marilyn Radler at marilynr@ogjonline.com.


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