RPT-UPDATE 3-US execs united on oil drilling, divided on gas exports

Mon Feb 25, 2013 5:59pm EST
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* Officials should ease rules as oil, gas sectors boom, executives say

* Controversial oil sand pipeline a good idea, CEOs say

* Help for clean energy, more efficiency also part of mix

By Patrick Rucker and Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Chief executives from some of the largest U.S. companies offered an energy blueprint on Monday that would expand drilling but they dodged thorny questions such as whether the nation's oil and gas wealth should be exported.

The Business Roundtable, a policy forum for leading CEOs, urged President Barack Obama to expand offshore oil production, coal exports and drilling on public lands in the interest of a fresh energy policy.

New technology has already put vast natural gas reserves within reach - unlocking shale deposits and creating a sudden glut of the fuel - but executives stayed silent on whether that bounty should be exported.

Energy interests hope natural gas sales abroad will help their bottom line while some domestic industries fear exports will rob them of cheap fuel that could expand the nation's manufacturing base.   Continued...