Pompeo to oil industry: ‘Go out … and crush it’

Source: Mike Lee, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2019

HOUSTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on the oil industry to help the Trump administration expand American influence through oil and gas exports.

The United States can use its newfound energy abundance to counter Russia, China, Iran and other actors, Pompeo said at the CERAWeek by IHS Markit conference. The State Department, he added, can help the industry by fostering free enterprise and promoting American companies around the world.

“My expectation for you is that you will go out and try and crush it every day,” Pompeo said. “My task is to make sure you have every opportunity to compete.”

Pompeo ran a small energy company in Kansas before entering politics. He reminded the assembled energy executives at the conference that he voted as a member of Congress to lift the 1970s-era ban on exporting American oil.

The United States surpassed Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading oil producer last year, according to the International Energy Agency. Last year, American companies sold oil to countries as diverse as India and Ireland, Pompeo said.

“We’re not just exporting our American energy — we’re exporting our commercial value system to our friends and to our partners,” he said. “Some nations are using their energy for malign ends and not to promote prosperity in the way we do here in the West. They don’t have the values of freedom and liberty and the rule of law that we do, and they’re using their energy to destroy ours.”

Russia is using gas pipelines like the Nord Stream 2 project to control the supply in Europe, Pompeo said. Iran is using its oil exports to finance Hezbollah in Lebanon and meddle in Iraq.

China uses trade agreements to lure developing nations in Africa into a “debt trap,” he said. China is a unique rival because of its size and military power, he said, and because it has deep commercial ties with American businesses.

American companies are the biggest investors in Southeast Asia, providing a counterweight to China’s influence, Pompeo said, and the oil industry should help in the effort.

“We must bring this to an end, and you all can be an important part of it,” he said.

Reporter Jenny Mandel contributed.