The energy industry will be glad to partner with private equity and spend the several billions of dollars it will take to build highway infrastructure to encourage consumers to use natural gas —if the U.S. government says it "won't stand in the way of making that happen," the head of Anadarko Petroleum told CNBC Monday.
"For a very reasonable amount of money and without a lot of fiscal stimulus, you can get the infrastructure built, then you work on the companies themselves to get the units converted," said CEO Jim Hackett. "All of this can be done in the space of three years with any kind of real effort and policy commitment."
This renewed focus of natural gas should've come years ago, he said, because natural gas is "cheap, cheap, cheap." One of the good things about the low price is it has made the U.S. a prime destination for industrial sites for companies creating fertilizer, petrochemicals and others needing low-cost energy.
Instead of "throwing stimulus at corn-based ethanol we should’ve been doing something more…environmentally friendly, which is natural gas," Hackett said. Developing natural gas and domestic oil drilling are "absolutely essential to this country's future" and "can get us largely independent of foreign, imported oil."
"We need to as an industry, as a country, as a world find more oil resources. We just have to," the Anadarko chief added. "Our company spends over $1 billion a year trying to do just that. Everybody needs to be committed to that."
He said the current crude oil price is "a respite" that is likely to go "a lot above" $100 a barrel in the next four to five years.
"We as a country can produce twice as much oil as we’re producing if we have the policy support for doing that in the next 20 years," according to Hackett.