Obama’s second-term energy secretary could be a key supporter of expanded oil and gas development


Ernest Moniz – President Obama’s choice to head the Department of Energy – has referred to expanded natural gas production as a “bridge” to a cleaner future.

As expected, earlier this month President Obama nominated Ernest Moniz to be the next Secretary of Energy. Like the last person to hold the job, Moniz is a physicist. However, he has also had his share of political experience.

During the Clinton Administration, Moniz held several different roles, including serving as undersecretary of energy. More recently, he has been on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology for the past four years.

As director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Energy Initiative, Moniz led a research team that considered what role natural gas should play in the country's economy. Introducing the group's final report in 2010, he expressed a nuanced position on the subject, but maintained that expanded production of natural gas should be seen as a step forward in the development of a sustainable energy portfolio.

"In the very long run, very tight carbon constraints will likely phase out natural gas power generation in favor of zero-carbon or extremely low-carbon energy sources such as renewables, nuclear power or natural gas and coal with carbon capture and storage," Moniz explained. "For the next several decades, however, natural gas will play a crucial role in enabling very substantial reductions in carbon emissions."

Making the most of America's gas resources demands careful attention to efficiency

In order for the use of natural gas to serve as an effective "bridge" to a low-carbon future, energy companies will need to ensure they are efficiently extracting gas in the present. This requires the embrace of best practices and the utilization of top-quality drilling and production equipment.

Hydraulic jet pumps are among the most versatile and efficient solutions for achieving maximum output from oil and gas wells. One of the key advantages of using jet pumps is that they can still be used to extract fuel when a well's casing is flawed in a way that prohibits the use of other artificial lift equipment.

This is an especially important factor for companies involved in hydraulic fracturing operations, which remain under intense public scrutiny and continue to face significant opposition in many areas. In 2011, while testifying as an expert witness before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Mr. Moniz asserted that many of the most common problems related to flowback leaks and water contamination were caused by improper well completion, rather than the fracking process itself.

For companies that are concerned about properly managing frac flowback and ensuring efficiency throughout pumping operations, installing a hydraulic jet pump may be the best solution.