US looks for options beyond oil as prices soar

Reason is demand from emerging economies and increased tensions in the Middle East.

Written by Agencies | Washington | Published: March 13, 2012 11:06:30 am

The US is looking for alternative options to meet its energy needs as galloping demand of oil and natural gas in rapidly growing countries like India and China will push up fuel prices in coming years,officials in the Obama administration said.

Heather Zichal,Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change,said keeping these factors and the unrest in the Middle East,President Barack Obama had set out a goal of reducing oil imports by a third in little over a decade.

“What we’re seeing in terms of growth and demand from emerging economies,China and India,with millions of new drivers on the road,as well as the increased tensions in the Middle East — we know those are driving up prices and we know that’s having an impact on American consumers.

“That’s why the President has directed his cabinet to take all actions available to help address these challenges in the near term,” Zichal said.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said global price of oil is affected by a variety of factors,some of which are well beyond the control of any administration.

“They include growth in emerging countries like China and India and Brazil as well as unrest in the Middle East and other areas of the world. That’s why the President is focused on the things that we can control,the things that (Energy) Secretary (Ken) Salazar and Heather were talking about in terms of an all-of-the-above energy approach,” he said.

Zichal said thanks to booming US oil and gas production,more efficient cars and trucks and a world-class refining sector,the US has already cut net imports by 10 per cent,or one million barrels a day,in the last year alone.

The country,she said,was on pace to meet its goal of cutting oil imports by a third by the end of the decade.

To meet such goals the Obama administration has put in place the first-ever efficiency standards for heavy-duty trucks,and the US has proposed the toughest fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles in US history,requiring an average performance of 55 miles per gallon by 2025.

“Over time,these new standards will save consumers more than $ 8,000 over the life of the programme. We’ve also doubled renewable energy generation,developed advanced alternative fuels,and supported cutting-edge research and development in clean energy technologies,” she said.

Salazar said the US’s domestic gas production is at the highest level in recent memory.

“We are importing the lowest amount of oil that we have in 16 years to the United States of America,” he said.

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