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US focusing on regional energy security in 2016, DOE official says

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US focusing on regional energy security in 2016, DOE official says

TheU.S. Department of Energy plans to prioritize energy security in North Americaand the Western Hemisphere in 2016, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of theOffice of International Affairs Paula Gant said.

"Thereis a very great deal of energy being spent on a North American concept ofenergy security, and the integration of our oil and gas and electricityinfrastructure, as well as doing things like grid security together," shesaid March 31 at a question-and-answer session during a lunch hosted by theNatural Gas Roundtable in Washington, D.C.

Thateffort has so far included a trilateral meeting in Winnipeg, Manitoba, wherefederal U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Mexico Energy Secretary PedroJoaquín Coldwell and Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr a memorandum ofunderstanding in February designed to advance a "continentalapproach" to energy policy. The nations agreed to collaborate and shareinformation on low-carbon electricity; clean energy technologies; energyefficiency; carbon capture, use and storage; climate change adaptation; andreducing emissions from the oil and gas sector, particularly methane.

Notingthe excitement and interest in the potential for Mexico's energy reforms andmore U.S. natural gas pipeline exports to the country, Gant added thatArgentina's unconventional gas resources, second in size only to the U.S., alsohave "incredibly exciting" energy security implications for the region.

DOEis "working with [Argentina] to not only understand the nature of theresource, but what it takes to produce it responsibly so they don't run intothe buzz saw of public concern that it can be," she said.

Inthe Caribbean, meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden continues to lead aninitiative supportingthe transition from fuel oil to renewable energy and gas, according to Gant,which includes "actively working with those countries on some of thebasics of understanding natural gas markets."

Gantalso stressed that DOE's emphasis on clean energy innovation does not meangetting rid of fossil fuels.

"Whenwe talk about clean energy technology and … advancing those causes, we are nottalking about eliminating the use of important fossil fuels," she said."I think this is a point that gets lost in translation quite a lot. We aretalking about significantly reducing over time the carbon emissions associatedwith using fossil fuels so that they can remain part of the low-carbon energymix."