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APGA comment on the 2013 US budget

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

President Obama released his 2013 Budget proposal for Congressional consideration on Monday February 13th. The budget has been widely criticised by conservatives for what they would term excessive spending and debt levels and by liberals for being insufficiently focused on short term stimulus to ensure the economy’s seemingly fragile momentum.

One key component of President Obama’s proposal is the DOE’s budget for 2013. The 2013 DOE budget proposal includes US$ 27.2 billion in funding, a 3.2% increase over 2012. This increase reflects the fact that the President believes that domestic energy, with a focus on natural gas, can be instrumental in ensuring energy security and economic prosperity. Despite the welcomed focus on natural gas by the President, the proposed DOE budget is ultimately a ‘mixed bag’ for natural gas.

APGA was invited to the unveiling of the DOE budget which included a high level presentation by Secretary Chu and smaller breakout sessions to provide details on specific programs. Secretary Chu gave a broad overview of the budget, but did mention natural gas hydrates research and development as a priority for DOE.

This focus on natural gas is reflected in the 13.4% increase in funding for natural gas technology from US$ 14.9 million to US$ 17 million. The funding is split with five million dollars for methane hydrates research and US$ 12 million for a collaborative effort with EPA, DOI and USGS to ensure the safety of hydraulic fracturing. Through the funding level for methane hydrates is not as high as APGA members would like, it is important to note that Secretary Chu said in his remarks that methane hydrates research is viewed as analogous to hydraulic fracturing research done by the DOE in the 1970s; in other words, a critical R&D area that has the potential to yield important results over time.

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