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Investment boom on US energy has legs: study

WASHINGTON--A boom in capital investment in U.S. energy transportation and storage infrastructure is likely to continue through the decade, raising growth and job prospects, according to a study released Tuesday.

High levels of investment will continue through 2025, pointing to fairly stable levels after that, researchers at IHS Global found in a study for the American Petroleum Institute, the trade group representing the energy industry.

Over the past five years, the United States has become the global leader in crude oil production capacity growth and is now the largest natural gas producer, thanks to unconventional technologies such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the report noted.

“The momentum generated from 2013, a banner year for U.S. oil and gas investment, will extend into 2014 and sustain a high level of infrastructure investment through the next decade,” the report said.

“In the face of these historic changes in U.S. oil and natural gas production patterns the need for and benefits from additional oil and gas infrastructure in the U.S. and Canada is becoming increasingly apparent.”

The report came as the Obama administration considers whether to allow the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline project to be built through environmentally sensitive areas in the state of Nebraska.

Following the 2008-2009 recession, investment in U.S. oil and gas infrastructure has increased by 60 percent, to US$89.6 billion in 2013, the IHS report said

IHS estimated that between US$85 billion and US$90 billion of direct capital will be invested in oil and gas infrastructure in 2014. Between 2014 through 2019, the average annual investment will be more than US$80 billion.

The amount will slow to around US$60 billion annually by 2025.

“This increase in capital spending has both provided an economic stimulus and provides an incisive data point into how shale-driven oil and gas production is reshaping U.S. oil and gas infrastructure,” the report said.

“What is significant about the infrastructure investment trends is the staying power of capital expenditure levels throughout the 2014-2025 forecast period.”

During the 2014-2025 period, the high level of investment will support almost 900,000 jobs, contribute US$94 billion to the economy; provide labor income of US$59 billion and produce more than US$21 billion in government revenues each year, IHS said.

The report was released in conjunction with API's launch of a campaign called “America's Energy, America's Choice,” aimed at encouraging energy industry-friendly policies from the government.

“We are in the midst of a game-changing point in our history, and America's future success depends on the choices that decision makers make today concerning the Keystone XL Pipeline, energy production, infrastructure, tax policy and federal regulations,” API's president and chief executive, Jack Gerard, said in a speech in Washington.

“These choices can mean the difference between more jobs and investment in the U.S. or less, increasing or decreasing imports, and making the U.S. more or less energy secure.”

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