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  • Welcome back, everyone.

  • Good afternoon, good evening, wherever you are.

  • I'm Derek Brower, the FT's US energy editor.

  • I'm in New York, so anybody joining me

  • on this side of the Atlantic, welcome.

  • One person who is, and I am delighted is joining us,

  • is the United States Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm

  • for the conference's last session.

  • Truly leaving the best last, I think.

  • I don't know about that.

  • Before we begin, a note of housekeeping.

  • Please, any questions that you have for Madam Secretary,

  • please send them in using the box, chat box,

  • on the right of your screen.

  • And second, if you want to tweet about this,

  • please use the hashtag #FTEnergyTran.

  • Madam Secretary, welcome.

  • Let's begin.

  • If I could I'd like to start with Europe

  • because a lot of our audience is there.

  • There's an energy crisis under way, as you know, in Europe.

  • Gas and electricity prices are at historic highs.

  • Do you blame Russia for this?

  • Well, we're certainly watching it.

  • I'll say this.

  • I just got back from Poland and met

  • with a number of the eastern and central European countries,

  • and there was a deep concern that there was withholding

  • of supplies and manipulation of the market

  • in order to demonstrate, if you will,

  • the indispensability of Russian gas as Germany

  • considers its Nord Stream 2 approvals.

  • However, I don't have information

  • to say that that is the case.

  • We are watching it very carefully.

  • Obviously, the US wants to make sure...

  • and there is a ripple effect in the United States, as well.

  • We are seeing natural gas prices shoot up also.

  • So we are undergoing a process internally

  • to the federal government just to let

  • you know to look at this issue and to make sure

  • that we're doing all we can, both here

  • and in Europe, to ensure that people

  • have the supplies they need.

  • Does that include the possibility

  • of investigating market manipulation by Gazprom

  • as the Polish government has called for?

  • Well, I know the Polish government was very concerned

  • about that as well.

  • Suffice it to say we're aware of the request.

  • We're aware of the fact that there does seem to be what...

  • well, I say a choke point and not as much supply.

  • But there are also, I understand -

  • and it's true in the United States, too -

  • this ramp-up after Covid takes a little bit more time than

  • people would like given how quickly winter is emerging.

  • And it is projected to be a bit of a colder winter.

  • So there are those issues.

  • Let me just say that we are looking at it.

  • It sounds...

  • I mean, those are fairly moderate comments.

  • It sounds like you're trying to cool some of the rhetoric.

  • Because some of your colleagues in Europe are talking about

  • this as an energy war almost.

  • We're in the grip of another energy war.

  • Do you fear that it could spiral into that?

  • I worry about that, certainly.

  • I mean, you don't want to see energy made into a weapon.

  • And the weaponisation of energy is a serious problem.

  • I'm not saying that is happening right now.

  • I am saying that we understand the concerns,

  • and that, given the enormous jack-up in prices,

  • there deserves to be special eyes on it,

  • and we are looking at it.

  • But at the moment, we don't have a conclusion on that.

  • Is there anything you think the US can do on the supply side,

  • for example, to help?

  • And I ask because the previous administration, as you know,

  • talked of freedom gas and so on helping to break Europe's

  • dependence on Russian gas.

  • Should the US, or can the US, send more gas right now?

  • Most of the cargoes that are sold in the spot market

  • seem to be bought by Asia right now,

  • and the market is sucking them in one direction

  • and not arriving in Europe.

  • Is there something more that the US

  • can do to help relieve Europe?

  • You know, again, we have an inter-agency process looking

  • at this.

  • I mean, as you know and as Europe knows, I mean,

  • we are in a position where we preside over a free market.

  • And so we don't own the means of supply

  • and we don't own the ability to direct.

  • And so the question is, what are the tools at our disposal

  • to make sure that there is supply

  • that's adequate both for Europe, as well as for the United

  • States.

  • I will say that our LNG supply at this moment

  • is almost to the cap of the existing capacity.

  • So you'd have to build out... even though new terminals are

  • authorised, they have not been built out yet.

  • It would take, obviously, some time for that

  • to happen to jack up additional supply.

  • So it's not as obvious of a solution

  • as one might otherwise think.

  • The capacity limits are almost reached.

  • Let me stay with the international mark

  • and ask about oil prices because WTI, West Texas Intermediate,

  • the US benchmark is near $80.

  • Brent is above $80.

  • Levels that some economists say will

  • start to slow the recovery, the economic recovery,

  • from the pandemic.

  • The administration has expressed its alarm

  • about gasoline prices, and President Biden

  • has talked about them.

  • Do you think Opec is doing enough?

  • Last week, they met, or earlier this week, they met.

  • And after the US asked for more supply

  • they stuck to their existing plan.

  • Is the Opec group of producers, Opec-Plus,

  • are they doing enough to cool what could be a damaging oil

  • price rally?

  • Well, I think that everybody was hoping

  • that there would be additional supply made available

  • so that prices would not be jacked up.

  • And the president, President Biden,

  • has made it clear that he wants Americans to have access

  • to affordable and reliable energy, obviously, at the pump,

  • but natural gas too.

  • The administration really is committed

  • to doing everything we can to make sure that everybody

  • is paying - that Americans are paying -

  • fair and affordable gas prices.

  • This is a similar problem, right?

  • We don't own our own gas supply or oil supply.

  • And so the market is what the market is.

  • Presidents don't control the cost of gasoline.

  • And we also are aware that we want

  • to move into a clean energy environment,

  • and that, while this transition occurs,

  • we want for people to not bear the cost of that

  • in terms of at the pump.

  • And the president, even in deciding

  • on how to pay for his big agenda in Congress,

  • he made it clear that raising gas taxes, for example,

  • is not on the table.

  • He drew a red line for that.

  • So he does not want to raise costs

  • on everyday people for anything.

  • And so, while we go through this transition,

  • he wants to incentivise the development

  • of clean technologies and clean fuel supplies

  • without having everyday citizens pay for the cost of that.

  • And the White House has said that all tools

  • - I think Jen Psaki said this earlier this week

  • - all tools are on the table in terms of trying

  • to deal with this price surge.

  • Does that include releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum

  • Reserve, for example?

  • Yep, it's a tool, for sure.

  • And is that a possibility in the next coming weeks?

  • Well, it's a tool that's under consideration.

  • There are regularly scheduled sales already set.

  • A regularly scheduled sale set.

  • So that might provide some.

  • But again, it's very much marginal assistance

  • overall given the scope of the problems.

  • But nonetheless, that is a tool, and certainly the president

  • will consider that.

  • And possibly restricting exports.

  • Is that also on the table?

  • That's a tool that we have not used, but it is a tool as well.

  • And as I say, we have an intergovernmental process

  • that is going on.

  • And as Jen Psaki said, all tools are on the table.

  • But some are more readily available than others.

  • Let me turn to the US now and ask about...

  • we'll stick with the oil for a sec.

  • Oil and gas.

  • US producers, the shale producers, as you know,

  • say these price rises are the outcome of policies

  • from the Biden administration.

  • In particular, they cite the moratorium on leasing

  • of federal lands for fracking.

  • Do you think producers in the US should

  • be doing more to increase production

  • right now themselves?

  • Let's be clear that the moratorium was on new leases,

  • and there were a whole lot of existing leases

  • that were not even being used, that

  • were available, that are available,

  • to be able to be taken advantage of.

  • We want to see supply and demand be at a place

  • where we don't see huge increases in prices.

  • So I'll just leave it at that, and the president

  • is very concerned about that.

  • OK.

  • Let me turn to Congress.

  • The president has been adamant that his sweeping clean energy

  • agenda will go ahead.

  • These are huge plans, as we all know

  • and as we've discussed a lot in this conference.

  • And his agenda rests on Congress's approval

  • of these plans later this month, potentially,

  • or when the vote comes in the coming weeks.

  • You've been following the machinations and the debate

  • in Congress closely, of course, and are very

  • familiar with what's happening.

  • What do you think is likely...

  • not what you want to come out of this process,

  • but what do you think is likely now to emerge from Congress

  • in terms of how much of the $3.5tn reconciliation package,

  • how much of the $1.2tn bipartisan infrastructure bill,

  • how much of these packages will survive by the time Congress is

  • done with them?

  • I mean, as you're aware, the bipartisan infrastructure deal

  • will largely stay intact, I predict.

  • And I think that's pretty clear.

  • It's just a question of the size of the Build Back Better,

  • the second piece, the Build Back Better agenda.

  • You're aware, of course, that the president

  • spoke with members of his party over the past couple of days

  • and told them that they would have to pare down the ambition.

  • And so whether the real question is whether they pare everything

  • back, or whether they put certain categories off

  • to the side and fund others fully.

  • I know that even just as I was coming on to this call,

  • I saw Senator Manchin describing what he thought

  • were his priorities.

  • And he has a pretty big say in how this is shaped.

  • So I do think that, combined, this is still

  • going to be a huge investment in our nation.

  • And from my column of the world in the Department of Energy,

  • it is going to be a huge investment in technologies,

  • and in projects, and in a grid deployment authority that

  • really takes us to the next level

  • and knocks down a lot of the barriers

  • that we have seen in the past.

  • So the issue really comes down to, quite honestly,

  • whether there will be this clean electricity performance

  • programme or some version of it that incentivises utilities

  • to do the buildout and has both incentives and penalties

  • and goals.

  • And so is it the CEPP, as we call it?

  • Or is it something that's got those elements?

  • That is part of what the last bit of negotiation is to occur.

  • I think there will be consensus around the investment in tax

  • credits to incentivise the buildout of clean energy.

  • We have been eager to incentivise

  • all kinds of clean energy.

  • - clean broadly defined.

  • That includes, obviously, wind and solar and renewables,