U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry at the Three Seas Initiative Business Forum

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry at the Three Seas Initiative Business Forum. Bucharest, Romania, September 18, 2018
Secretary of Energy Rick Perry at the Three Seas Initiative Business Forum. Bucharest, Romania, September 18, 2018

Dr. Daraban, thank you for sharing the stage with us and for your work with the Chamber.

Ana, it is good to be on stage with you again and we have become colleagues and friends over the years.

General Jones, I cannot tell you what a privilege it is for me just to get to hang around with you. I wasn’t tough enough to be a Marine. I live on a piece of property with two of my best friends from college and they both went on to the United States Marine Corps, so they introduce me on a regular basis as “Perry, who was not in the military, he was in the Air Force.” So, we don’t let each other up very often, sir, but thank you for your continued service. The work that General Jones is doing now is adding substantially to the foundation of this country and to the opportunities that we have in this region. Speaking of the general’s work, I am remiss to not share with you, I am just back from a trip – on the matter of fact on the front end of this trip – to Russia, to Moscow. I stayed with the former fellow who was in between your gigs as the head of the Council, and that’s John Huntsman of course, and just a great, dear, fabulous personal friend and doing a yeoman’s work over in Moscow and Russia today as we go forward. He wanted me to be sure to tell you all hello and best wishes.

Finally, I just want to say what a great privilege it is for me to be representing the United States here, at this event, particularly at a time when this region, many of the countries in this region are celebrating a centennial of freedom and independence. There was an advertising campaign some time back; I would be remiss if I remember exactly what it was about, but it said “you’ve come a long way, baby.” And, I think we can say that about the nations who have persevered, that are represented here, and on behalf of the United States, the President of the United States, I want to just tell you that we wish you another 100 years of great success and independence and freedom.

We come together at a unique time, but an important time as well, a moment to work towards a greater energy security in turn, and economic prosperity, most of all individual freedom and opportunities is what I see in this energy sphere. I want the countries of Central and Eastern Europe to know that they can count on the United States as a stable, reliable, energy partner. As you know, we are now, the United States is now the leading oil and gas producing country in the world. Think about that – fifteen years ago they told us we were done, right?

We’re eager to share in that gift, that opportunity, and to help create your own success stories, Ana. We are eager to do that because we know that energy security is basically tantamount to national security, and transatlantic energy security is fundamental to the national security of all of our nations. Quite simply, the 3 Seas Initiative is as important an endeavor as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or the European Union, as they all are built upon a foundation of shared values that promote a joint commitment to mutual defense, economic prosperity, and civil liberty. This is particularly true for this region – countries in Central and Eastern Europe continue to face the challenges to their energy security due to single supplier dependence and Russia’s aggressive posture. Since Russia’s invasion of Crimea and the threat of a cutoff of natural gas supplies in the winter of 2014, Europe’s dependence on Russian gas has only been increasing, going from 30% share to now more than a 40% share. This is truly a cause for concern.

A century ago, Winston Churchill recognized that safety and certainty in oil lie in variety and variety alone. He would undoubtedly say today the same thing about natural gas. We believe there is a great security in energy diversity, in a multiplicity of energy sources and types, and routes. This is why the United States supports the core principle of energy diversification as a key pillar of the 3 Seas Initiative, ultimately as a way to complete Europe. As President Trump said during the remarks at last year’s 3 Seas Summit in Warsaw: “The United States will never use energy to coerce your nation, and we cannot allow others to do that either.” President Trump has also made it quite clear that his opposition to projects that run at cross purposes to that diversification, notably Nord Stream 2. His call is instead to move forward with specific infrastructure projects to expand diversification, open greater access, and reduce barriers to energy trade.

That was why I was pleased today to announce the launch of a new initiative called The Partnership for Transatlantic Energy Cooperation to answer the President’s call. Working together with countries in the region and in close cooperation with the European Commission, we will strive to catalyze investment in critical infrastructure for a North-South energy corridor. Completing the trans-Adriatic pipeline, the Krk LNG terminal, interconnectors Greece and Bulgaria, the Bulgaria-Romania-Hungary interconnector, and a spat of offshore oil and gas projects, will be one of the indications of our success. These are important projects, and there is too much potential in the 3 Seas for us to just limit ourselves simply to pipeline politics. Plans for a nuclear power program in Poland, a relaunch of a competitive Temelin tender in the Czech Republic, those are both important indications of a reawakening of nuclear energy in Europe.

Innovation in the next generation of highly advanced fossil fuels, renewable energy technologies will offer further options for diversification. Our Partnership for Transatlantic Energy Cooperation will raise these projects to the top of the political and economic agenda for their wider visibility and attractiveness. The business community is ready for a return to a high-growth economic environment. Large scale capital investment by multinational corporations require investor confidence. You know as well as anybody in here that when I have the opportunity to talk about Texas, I don’t pass it up.

So, as he shared with you, I had the great privilege to serve as the Governor of Texas. It became the 12th largest economy in the world, about the same size economically as Russia. And I share with people, there are four tenets, there are four rules, there are four ways that you put these concepts into play, and your state or your city or your nation will prosper. The first is to keep taxes as low, and obviously to meet the needs of the citizens, but send that message that you are not going to be taxed out of existence, have a regulatory climate that is fair and predictable, have a legal system that doesn’t allow for over-suing, and have a skilled workforce. And skilled workforce translates into accountable public schools and education. Those are the four things. And that rule of law if you will, the legal system, the regulatory climate, those last two that I mentioned there are incredibly important in the sense of growing an economy like you have here.

I know the energy investment community and they need predictability before making these major investments, so I encourage those here to do all they can to share that message of the rule of law, predictability, and the regulatory community, and then the legal system. The prospects for offshore oil and gas development in the Black Sea are significant. Companies are poised to make final investment decisions on projects that have taken many years to prove up, millions of dollars they have invested in this. We believe the best approach for the Black Sea and elsewhere is to work closely with the companies who have made considerable upfront investments in the exploratory activities. Equitable solutions will only be found in the near-term dividends on projects of today, but they’ll also build momentum for those high-growth opportunities in the out years. Today, we can send a clear signal that the United States and Europe are open for business and are ready to go. My experience working with many of you since I have become the Secretary of Energy gives me confidence that we are going to turn the spirit of this Summit into actions – Ana as you called for – that will have a lasting impact on the 3 Seas Initiative across our transatlantic alliance and literally around the world.

So, let’s work together for the future; for our future of greater energy security, economic prosperity, and most of all of individual opportunity and liberty. Thank you.

Questions and Answers

Question: Mr. Secretary, you rolled out today PTEC – The Partnership for Transatlantic Energy Cooperation. Could you elaborate a little bit more on its key components and how you see it fitting into the Three Seas Initiative?

Obviously, partnerships are really important, and one of the things that we have found is that none of us can do these things alone, if you think about the different partnerships and what not that we have had over the years… The Department of Energy and the expertise that reside there is stunning. I will give you one example. I made just an aside comment about how fifteen years ago we were told we were done, we had found all the oil and gas there was to find, that we were at peak oil and the out years, the decline was there, and it was what it was and there was not any changing it, and even if we found any new reserves it would be exorbitantly expensive to produce. That was basically the guy’s speech that he went around making in the mid-2000s.

But, because of innovation and technology, and the sharing of that innovation and technology in a lot of cases, and I might add – again, I can’t get away from my Texas rootes – they failed to tell that to George Mitchell, a 1940 graduate of the beloved Texas A&M, who was the man who came up with the concept of hydraulic fracturing. But to really make hydraulic fracturing to be this powerful tool that has revolutionized the world, changed the geopolitics of the world because America now being the number one oil and gas producing country in the world, you had to have another technology in conjunction with that – directional drilling. And, they couldn’t keep the polycarbonate on the bits. But work at a national lab was able to find a solution to that with an adhesive that literally changed the world in conjunction with another technology. And my point with that long cock-and-bull story – true though it is – is that these partnerships that get created with the government, with the private sector, with private investors, with tax dollars, is all a part of the solution that we see for this region of the country; and being partners – American technology and innovation, working with – in this case Romanian or Croatian partners – as we develop their resources, and this is a model that works.

I know there are those who would like to say: well, this is these big multinational corporations coming in; they are going to take our resources and they are going to go away with them. Don’t fall for that trap. This is about individuals who truly know how to develop these resources, the wealth, the jobs that get created, the schools that get built, the roads that get approved and built, the infrastructure that occurs with the development of national resources in this region is powerful. You want to change your environment – and I might add that environment that you breathe as well, natural gas. While Texas was becoming the leader in the United States in job creation and wealth creation, we added some seven million people to the population rolls of that state during that period of time that I was governor, that this energy revolution was going on. You know what 7 million people means, when you add that to your population, in Texas? A lot of pickup trucks. Right? Everybody went out and bought ‘em a new pickup truck. Well, conventional wisdom tells you: ok, we created a lot of jobs, you did all this, but you have had to just play holy hell with your environment, obviously. All that non-point source pollution, the increased manufacturing, all that. Here’s what… as Paul Harvey would say, is the rest of the story. Nitrogen oxide levels went down by over 60%, sulphur dioxide by over 50%, the total carbon footprint in a state that led the nation in job creation, down by almost 20%.

Here’s the message to Europe, to the world: you can have job creation here, you can have wealth creation here, you can have better quality of life here, and because of the transition away from old or inefficient power plants, you can affect the environment in a very powerful and positive way. Now, Texas also did some other things besides just switch over to those natural gas burning plants. We also became the most productive state in the Union in wind energy. It all goes together. We produce more wind in Texas than all but five countries. So all of these things can go together. My message and my point to share with our friends here in Eastern and Central Europe is that the future can be incredibly bright. Partnering with the technological know-how, partnering with the United States. And you know you can count on us. We will be there, day in, day out, in a partnership that goes back a long way, and God willing, will last as far as we can see into the future. Thank you all for coming and being a partner.