Remarks Prepared for Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman
Let me begin by thanking my host for my visit to Qatar, His Excellency Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah.
It is truly a pleasure to be here with all of you at this very impressive facility.
Two years ago, I traveled to Doha and visited Education City. I had the opportunity to see the first class that had entered the Weill-Cornell Medical School. It is amazing to come here two years later and see the tremendous growth that has occurred.
Since becoming Secretary of Energy, visiting the Gulf region has been a priority. So let me begin by telling you why I feel this visit is so important.
There are three main reasons actually.
The first is to express my deep appreciation, on behalf of the President and the people of the United States, to Qatar and other nations here in the region for their support and contributions to those affected by the hurricanes that hit the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year, as well as the quick and committed response to help keep world oil markets stable.
We are also grateful for the strong support that Qatar and other nations are demonstrating in our shared struggle in the war against terrorism.
As the brutal attacks in Jordan last week demonstrate, this is a struggle that involves all civilized nations, and the U.S. is pleased and proud to have such strong allies here in the Middle East.
Second, I am here to talk with my counterparts in government about the changing energy landscape in the United States and around the world.
As I talk with officials in various Ministries, I am updating them on developments in the United States, such as the comprehensive energy bill the President signed this summer, and our progress in recovering from the effects of the hurricanes I just mentioned.
But in addition to talking, I have also come here to listen. I am very interested in hearing from leaders in the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia about their ideas for how we can work together to keep markets well supplied.
I know that many of these nations have ambitious plans for increasing production and expanding capacity, and I am eager to learn more about these plans, as well as possible opportunities for U.S. companies to take part in these efforts.
For instance, I had the opportunity to visit Ras Laffan yesterday with Minister Al-Attiyah and hear about Qatar's plans to invest tens of billions of dollars over the next several years to become the world's largest exporter of LNG.
All of this is of keen interest to me as the Secretary of Energy of the world's largest energy consumer.
I suppose that is obvious.
But in that case, you might be asking at this point, what I am doing here visiting Education City?
In part, I wanted to see the progress that has been made since I first visited and in part because I have a long-standing personal interest in education.
Like Her Highness Sheikha Mozah, who is such a devoted sponsor of this facility, I have always been very interested in the cause of education. In fact, my first job was as a college professor.
And I think I can safely say that we both believe that education provides the most durable and most promising pathway to long-term opportunity and success.
I know Her Highness is particularly interested in using the blessings of education to empower women and girls, allowing them to have a dignified, meaningful and respected place in society.
This commitment to education, particularly for women, has made Qatar a pioneer here in the Middle East in more ways than one.
Because in addition to being a path out of poverty and despair, education is also an essential part of achieving political reform and strengthening the foundations of democracy.
I know that through the leadership of His Excellency Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, Qatar has been making great strides in this direction, and I offer my warm congratulations, as well as strong encouragement for continued progress.
An American president named James Garfield had a very insightful observation on this connection between education and politics.
Now, I know that President Garfield is not the most famous American President, and you may never have heard of him. That's o.k..most Americans would barely recognize his name!
But he did say something memorable on this topic. "Without education," said President Garfield, "neither freedom nor justice can be permanently maintained."
So my interest in education as central to both prosperity and democracy is one reason that I wanted to visit this facility on my trip.
But in addition to being a personal interest of mine, education is also a matter of professional importance to me.
I believe that education will be key to meeting one of the great challenges facing the world in this century: the steadily increasing demand for energy around the world.
Before I explain what I mean by that, what I see as the connection between education and our future energy challenges, let me sketch a quick outline of what the global energy landscape looks like.
Over the last several years we have seen unprecedented increases in world-wide oil demand of about two and a half million barrels per day in 2004 alone.
And numerous trends indicate that this thirst for petroleum will continue to grow, particularly in the burgeoning economies of Asia.
Meeting this growing demand in a way that promotes steady economic growth and avoids spikes or plunges in prices, or supply disruptions, will require close communication and cooperation between all the participating nations - consumers as well as suppliers - over the coming decades.
And a major part of meeting this challenge will involve substantial investments in expanded infrastructure and, particularly, in new technologies. I don't mean to suggest by this that the investments necessary to secure reliable energy markets for the future are obligations only of energy-producing nations.
To the contrary, this is something that is happening, must happen, all over the world.
The world needs a 21st century energy marketplace, and energy infrastructure, that is appropriate to our growing 21st century economies.
In the U.S., for instance, we are taking steps to expand our physical infrastructure for importing liquefied natural gas.
Streamlining the approval process for new LNG facilities was an important part of the energy bill President Bush signed this summer.
In fact, building a global market in natural gas through commerce in LNG is a perfect example of how consuming and supplying nations can work together to meet the energy challenges of the future.
But one of the serious challenges being faced today, as companies and nations look to expand and upgrade their energy production and infrastructure, is a lack of qualified engineers and scientists.
And that brings me back to the theme of education.
The research and development necessary to bring new energy technologies to market will not occur all by itself.
Innovative new facilities for supplying our energy needs cleanly and efficiently will not design and build themselves.
And the goal of basic scientific inquiry into entirely new energy sources is meaningless if it is no more than an abstract ideal.
So we need talented, dedicated and properly trained scientists and engineers to make the promise of cutting-edge energy technologies a reality.
We need to focus on expanding science and engineering education so we will be able make the complex energy investments in Qatar, in the U.S., and elsewhere, that we will need soon.
Because the rising global energy demand that I mentioned is not slowing down. If anything, it is increasing more rapidly.
So I believe that we must invest in education today, to ensure that the world will have clean, reliable and affordable energy in the coming decades.
In the face of this growing need around the world for engineers and scientists, most nations are not keeping up.
China, I should note, is responding to this challenge. Last year alone, they graduated 600,000 new engineers.
In the U.S., by contrast, we graduated only 70,000, a fact highlighted in a new a report issued by the National Academies of Science.
This is a very prestigious group of experts which advises our government.
And its new report explains that while many students around the world do recognize the growing need for scientific and technical skills and are working to be part of the solution. We need to do more, particularly the United States, to encourage young people to pursue math, science and engineering.
So, as each of our nations seeks to implement the appropriate climate for attracting investment, I hope we will also keep in mind that the ultimate investment we can make is in the education of our young people.
Before I conclude, let me say that I am pleased to see that Qatari and U.S. negotiators are having useful discussions to build on the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement signed in March of 2004, and move toward concluding a Free Trade Agreement.
We all look forward to a successful conclusion of that process.
I also want to acknowledge the important role that Qatar will play as the next host of the biennial International Energy Forum in April 2006, where the U.S. will again participate in an energy dialogue involving many of the major energy producing and consuming countries, as well as major international and national oil companies.
I am glad to have had this opportunity to speak to you today and reaffirm the importance of good relations between our two nations.
Working together, I believe that we can make the ties between our countries even stronger.
I am particularly pleased to have had the opportunity to tour this wonderful education center.
And the chance to speak to some of the students --the doctors, the engineers, the leaders of the future--is always a great pleasure for me.