Trump admin to India: ‘Choose us’ for your energy needs

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Energy Secretary Rick Perrty (center) and Shekhar Besu, India’s Atomic Energy Secretary (on Perry’s left). Photo credit: @USAmbIndia/Twitter

Energy Secretary Rick Perry and his staff are in India this week pushing the message that the United States — not Russia or China — can meet India’s energy needs.

Perry and his delegation are encouraging the world’s second most populous country to tap the United States’ massive shale plays and technology to build reactors, pipelines and carbon capture equipment.

“I think India should start looking in the direction of the United States,” DOE Undersecretary of Energy Mark Menezes, who is traveling with Perry, told The Economic Times during an interviewtoday.

“Look at us, look at what we are offering, and then choose us over other countries,” Menezes said. “I am not saying it will happen overnight, but start looking in our direction.”

DOE’s message aligns with the Trump administration’s push to make India a regional hub for U.S. business. It’s also a tune Republicans are singing on Capitol Hill in hopes of boosting gas exports — and pipeline technology — to foreign shores.

During budget hearings on Capitol Hill last week, Republican lawmakers like Rep. Pete Olson of Texas called on Perry to tell India that the United States is an eager and willing business partner.

Olson, vice chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, told Perry on Thursday that he had just returned from a trip to India as part of a congressional delegation, and officials there were “gushing” about the secretary’s pending arrival.

Olson also said India has an “extremely aggressive” plan to clean up its air pollution using mainly wind and solar energy but that natural gas from countries like the United States is the “economy of the now.”

“I want you to take that technology message to them; we will help you,” Olson said.

India has already emerged as a critical customer of exports of liquefied natural gas from the United States, which are expected to reach 10 billion cubic feet per day by the end of this decade.

Indian companies have secured agreements for supplies of LNG from Cheniere Energy Inc.’s Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana, Dominion Energy Inc.’s planned Cove Point LNG plant in Maryland and Sempra Energy’s Cameron LNG project in Louisiana (Energywire, June 29, 2017).

India understands it needs a more advanced power grid, better technology and an improved pipeline system to transition to cleaner power and transport gas around the country from import hubs, Olson said.

“That’s another area — U.S. pipeline technology, U.S. pipeline companies. I think there’s a real opportunity in not just India, but India is obviously a huge market,” Perry responded. “Our ability to deliver U.S. innovation, U.S. natural resources into that country … that’s the real driving factor of why we’re headed that way.”

Carbon capture, nuclear power

Perry will also focus on pushing U.S. technology to expand nuclear power and carbon capture in India.

The secretary is slated to take part in the inaugural meeting of the Strategic Energy Partnership in New Delhi tomorrow.

While DOE did not immediately provide a list of participants, photos on Twitter showed Perry posing at a roundtable with DOE officials, including Menezes and DOE chief of staff Brian McCormack.

Perry told members of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee last week that his trip to India would focus on carbon capture utilization and storage technology, or CCUS.

“The technology that we are seeing brought forward on clean coal, carbon capture, is starting to take off across the globe, and I think that is one of the most important things about this,” Perry told Republican Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota.

The United States, Perry said, will push technology to help countries like India use coal for years to come, noting that fossil fuels will generate 70 percent of domestic energy through 2040.

“We want it to be U.S.-based resources as often as possible, but we also want it to be as clean-burning as it can be, and that’s where CCUS and the technology that is ongoing at these projects like you have in your home state and we are working on in our labs,” Perry told Hoeven.

Nuclear energy will also be a focus of the trip. Perry yesterday met with Indian Atomic Energy Secretary Sekhar Basu and inked a memorandum of understanding focused on neutrino physics.

Menezes said during the interview with The Economic Times that he believes Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC will bounce back from bankruptcy to build reactors in India.

“We think Westinghouse will be very strong coming out of the bankruptcy,” he said. “We are very supportive of their technology and capability to build the six reactors here. Bankruptcy will no longer be an issue.”