Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 30th 2014 Contents A25
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
NEW YORK---Whether to allow more
exports of US oil and natural gas has
become a matter of political debate
in Washington. But to economists,
the answer is clear: The nation would
The vast majority of economists sur-
veyed this month by The Associated
Press say lifting restrictions on exports
of oil and natural gas would help the
economy even if it meant higher fuel
prices for consumers.
More exports would encourage
investment in oil and gas production
and transport, create jobs, make oil
and gas supplies more stable and reduce
the US trade deficit, they say.
As domestic energy production has
boomed, drilling companies have
pushed to be allowed to sell crude oil
and natural gas overseas, where they
can command higher prices. Such
exports are restricted by decades-old
energy security regulations.
Those opposed to opening trade say
exports could make it more expensive
for Americans to heat their homes and
fill up their cars.
But even economists who think
exports might increase fuel prices for
US consumers---an open question---
say the overall benefit to the economy
would outweigh any possible harm.
It would be better to allow the
exports and use tax breaks or other
methods to help those struggling with
higher prices, they say.
"The economy in general is better
off if we can sell something to someone
and bring money into the economy,"
said Jerry Webman, chief economist
at Oppenheimer Funds.
"I d rather deal with any side effects
directly than limit our ability to do
business with the world."
The AP survey collected the views
of private, corporate and academic
economists on a range of issues.
Of the 30 economists who partic-
ipated, nearly 90 per cent responded
that more exports of oil and gas would
help the US economy.
Oil and gas export restrictions went
largely unchallenged for decades
because consumption in the US---by
far the world s biggest consumer of oil
and gas---was rising while production
was falling. Imports were increasing,
and few thought the US would ever
be in a position to export oil or gas.
But new techniques have allowed
drillers to tap oil and gas in formations
once thought out of reach, and US
production has soared.
The US still consumes far more
crude oil than it produces. But oil com-
panies are producing a light sweet
crude that foreign refineries covet and
that many US refineries are not
equipped to handle.
The companies and some politicians
have called for lifting oil export restric-
tions. Proponents concede, though,
that that s unlikely in an election year.
Seven terminals have received Energy
Department approval to export natural
gas and are at various stages of plan-
ning, permitting, finance and con-
struction of the facilities needed to
cool the gas into a liquid for transport.
Thirty additional facilities are awaiting
Low natural gas prices in the US
have helped reduce heating and elec-
tricity prices for residents and given
US manufacturers a cost advantage
over their competitors in Europe and
That s one reason Robert Johnson,
director of economic analysis at Morn-
ingstar, doesn t embrace the idea of
unfettered natural gas exports.
"We ve already got a few industries
building on the concept that we re
going to have a long-term energy
advantage here, and I d hate to interrupt
those plans," Johnson said.
He also argues that higher energy
prices would disproportionally hurt
those with lower incomes, who spend
a relatively large portion of their pay-
checks on energy.
That leaves them with less cash for
other things, which, in turn, hampers
consumer spending---by far the biggest
portion of the US economy. (AP)
LONDON---Britain s economy
grew by 0.8 per cent in the first
quarter of 2014, recovering much
of the ground it lost during the
The Office of National Statistics
said that all the major industrial
sectors assessed, excluding agri-
culture, posted gains, with services
doing best with a 0.9 per cent rise
compared with the previous quar-
ter.The statistics office s chief eco-
nomic adviser, Joe Grice, told the
BBC that it now seems as if the
economy has a different tone.
Unlike the United States and
Germany, the British economy
remains smaller than it was in 2008
when the global financial crisis hit
hardest and prompted the country s
deepest recession since World War
II.But Grice says it is improving
and is now estimated to be 0.6 per
cent below the 2008 peak. (AP)
oil, gas exports
UK economy grows 0.8 per cent
Workers tend to a well head during a hydraulic fracturing operation at an Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc gas well
outside Rifle, in western Colorado. The vast majority of economists surveyed by The Associated Press say
lifting restrictions on exports of oil and natural gas would help the economy even if it meant higher fuel
prices for consumers. AP PHOTO
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