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ConocoPhillips CEO says poor energy policies have contributed to a lack of supply

Lance, Chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips, rings the closing bell on the New York Stock Exchange
FILE PHOTO: ConocoPhillips Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ryan M. Lance (C) rings the closing bell on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), February 27, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

March 8, 2022

By Liz Hampton

Ryan Lance, chief executive of HOUSTON (Reuters) – ConocoPhillips said on Tuesday while energy security has gained prominence amid supply concerns recently, policymakers need to focus on long-term support for fossil fuel, renewable energy and nuclear power development.

The United States has suffered from “bad energy policies, bad regulatory policies” that have meant that the energy issues are now catching the world’s attention, Lance said at the CERAWeek energy conference.

The rapid push towards renewable energy and a smear on the fossil fuel industry have helped create the current supply shortages that have pushed up oil and gas prices, Lance said, restating earlier criticism of the US policy.

“I think when people start to see the implications of trying to push this – the regulatory standards, the way governments go about business – when they try to work towards cliff crossing, there’s nothing just on them,” Lance said.

“There’s nothing fair about that, it’s going to cause economic difficulties,” he said.

The US ban on Russian oil imports announced on Tuesday made “meaningful” messages to Russia, he said, even as fears of a shortage of supply drove prices to record levels.

Oil prices rose 7% on Tuesday to as high as $132 a barrel from around $78 a barrel late last year.

ConocoPhillips’ Willow project on Alaska’s North Slope, which Lance called “an amazing new piece,” was embroiled in a regulatory review after a federal judge ruled the company had failed to adequately answer questions for its permit.

He said talks between the oil industry and the government had started to “speed up” amid the recent energy supply crisis, without giving details.

Lance estimated US production will continue to rise, but he didn’t back down from pledges he and other executives at publicly traded energy companies have made to focus on shareholder returns.

Current high oil prices will allow oil companies that took on debt during the pandemic to repay that debt and improve shareholder returns, he said.

“There will be a lot of money. I think there will be money to do both,” Lance said. “But as an industry, we must not lose sight of returns.”

(Reporting by Liz Hampton)

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Caroline Bleakley

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