HOUSTON, March 5 (Xinhua) -- Shale development is growing fast enough that North America could become an energy exporter within a decade, the chief executive officer of ConocoPhillips said here Tuesday.
ConocoPhillips CEO Ryan Lance also said in a speech to the IHS CERAWEEK energy conference in Houston that the U.S. federal government should allow future LNG (liquefied natural gas) exports, and at some point, "even exports of oil."
"We live in an interconnected, mutually dependent world that needs free trade," said Lance. "In the case of the U.S., this means allowing future LNG exports -- and perhaps at some point even exports of oil."
Permits should be granted to projects aimed at exporting liquefied natural gas, and eventually crude oil, said Lance.
Doing so would "improve the U.S. balance of trade, and create jobs and income - both here and in the importing countries," he said.
U.S. oil imports fell to a 15-year low last year, as domestic production surged and demand dropped, according to data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration last month.
The new industry landscape - from scarcity to abundance - is "like someone pick up the energy world and titled it," said Lance. "This new energy landscape offers both challenges and opportunities."
Shale development, which brings faster payoff than a LNG project, has changed the investment cycle because it does not require massive up-front investment, he said.
Companies also need to cut drilling time, improve efficiency and control costs while developing shale and other unconventional formations, Lance said.
CERAWeek is held annually by IHS, a U.S. energy consulting firm, and provides a platform for industry leaders, regulators and scholars around the world to engage in in-depth discussions.
This year's IHS CERAWEEK energy conference, which kicked off Monday in Houston, will run through Friday.
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