An interview with National Geographic by Shell CEO Peter Voser is a must-read. In it, Voser discusses the state of the shale gas universe, and particularly Pennsylvania, where there are 74 operators and “a very fragmented, competitive environment.”
Voser says that last year, Shell publicly released its operating procedures, guidelines, and policies in order to “lift overall operational standards” and to “give the regulators, which are mainly at state level, an idea of what global top world-class standards could look like, which they could actually use in setting the regulations.”
And Voser was very clear in calling for additional regulations, and for greatly-expanded monitoring - of water usage and groundwater contamination issues; of the chemicals that are used; and of methane emissions. Of the latter, Voser says: “The technology is out there. It’s about focusing on it, monitoring it, and actually investing in it.”
But the interview is also noteworthy because Voser voices support for the idea of setting a price on carbon emissions. He called for governments to take a
· energy efficiency;
· set a price on carbon - “(W)e need a price for CO2. This will help us to invest, actually, much more in the longer term” - and
· establish energy policies that set limits on carbon emissions without specifying preferred technologies; that allow industry, NGOs, and academia to work on solutions within that framework.
. He discusses the role of collaboration among industries, governments and NGOs, and the need for investment in innovation.
There is an obvious case to be made for government action on all of these fronts. But governments typically lag behind the pace and scope of events. There is thus perhaps an even stronger case for – and potential for - strong, collaborative, transparent leadership by individual companies.