Interview of Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry With Brian Sullivan of CNBC
Secretary of State
QUESTION: First to you, Secretary Pompeo. You were just talking on stage about China. China would like to develop its own oil and gas assets in many disputed waters. What is the greatest tool that we have got from an energy policy perspective to blunt their growing influence and their desire to capture their own oil and gas in those disputed waters?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So, Brian, thanks for having me on the show. There’s two. One is the rule of law. The fundamental idea that these energy sources belong to China everyone knows not to be true. So American diplomats need to do the hard work to make sure that the countries that own those resources get access to them for their people.
Second, there’s nobody who can innovate and work like American businesses. We’re here at CERA where we’re talking about the enormous energy abundance that’s been created all across America. We can deliver for South Asia and Asia the same way we’ve done for the rest of the world. That’ll keep China at bay.
QUESTION: Secretary Perry, should American companies be afraid to sell their oil and gas to China right now given China’s own ambitions?
SECRETARY PERRY: Well, obviously we’re looking for the market and the global marketplace. The American producer has the ability to get out there and compete with anybody around the world. So where it goes – we want to send the message that, listen, American energy is available. Our LNG is going to 34 countries now in five different continents. And you can get American energy and there aren’t any strings attached. That’s the message for our --
QUESTION: How far are we willing to go, Secretary Pompeo, on the economic side to blunt China’s increased activity in those areas?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So President Trump’s made clear what we want is a fair shot. We want tariffs that are even, non-tariff barriers to be shut out. We want the rule of law, transparency in contracts. When we get those things, I am very confident that American companies will prevail. We can always outcompete.
QUESTION: At the same time this is happening, Germany and Russia are getting closer together. The second part of a very important pipeline called the Nord Stream 2 is being completed. It will further tie Russia and Germany together. What is the proper U.S. response to Germany moving closer to Russia from an energy perspective?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, it’s clear this is Germany giving the Russians money while others are defending them. We’d urge them not to finish the pipeline. We want them to have energy diversity. I’m sure Secretary Perry has some real thoughts on this as well.
SECRETARY PERRY: Yeah. Well, here’s the real message. The American energy doesn’t have strings attached, as I said. It’s clear that Russian gas has strings attached. We think it’s important for our friends in Europe, whether the Central Europeans or whether it’s the Western Europeans, to know that they can get that LNG laid in there from the United States, from Qatar, Australia, wherever it might be. Having diversity of fuel, diversity of supply, diversity of routes – that’s the real key here. The American LNG has the ability to truly make Europe free from that Russian intervention.
QUESTION: Secretary Perry, do we have enough capacity and export capacity to Europe to even mitigate --
SECRETARY PERRY: Yes.
QUESTION: -- the impact of that Russian gas?
SECRETARY PERRY: Absolutely, we can. Obviously, we’ve got some infrastructure work that we need to do in the United States. We need to get those (inaudible) commissioners out of the Senate, in there working getting those permits in. But get that permitting done so that this infrastructure can be built, whether it’s out of the Permian Basin, whether it’s north out of the Bakken, or whether it’s out of the Marcellus Shale. America can deliver the energy needs of a lot of our allies.
QUESTION: Is energy, Secretary Pompeo, our greatest policy lever to affect foreign policy change?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, we have a couple. Our Department of Defense is an important lever as well, but I’m here at CERA because American energy security matters, the abundance, the fact that we’re now the largest exporter of crude oil, that we’ve grown so much so fast gives us a lot of power, a lot of capacity to influence for good all around the world.
QUESTION: We are almost effectively energy independent (inaudible), and we probably could be if we decided not to export. How does that change the way you approach your job and dealings with China, with Russia?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So it changes everything. Every conversation I had. I was in Vietnam, I was in the Philippines, I’ll travel to the Middle East next week – every one of those conversations is fundamentally different because of American energy abundance. We now have the capacity to take our technology, our products, our pipelines, deliver them around the world, provide safe, affordable energy, diversify energy resources for each of these countries. They’ll be safer, the American people will be safer as well.
QUESTION: Should we keep up or extend the oil sanctions on Iran?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yes, and we will.
QUESTION: For how long?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Until we get the change in behavior that the people in the Middle East and the rest of the world so desperately (inaudible).
QUESTION: You said you’d like to bring down to zero barrels of export. Do you think that’s possible?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’m not going to get ahead of myself or ahead of the President, but make no mistake about it, that’s the direction of travel. We want to deny Iran the resources to continue to underwrite Hizballah, the Houthis in Yemen, a whole list of terrorists around the world. We want to deny them those resources; when their behavior changes, we’ll be happy to invite them back into the community of nations.
QUESTION: Secretary Perry, about an hour ago down the road, the biggest U.S. gasoline refinery owned by the Saudis. I can go a little further. Talk about Golden Pass, a huge LNG export facility --
SECRETARY PERRY: With the Qataris.
QUESTION: It’s going to be 71 percent funded by Qatar Petroleum with Exxon and Conoco as minority partners. Do you worry that some of the (inaudible) dealings that we have around the world could discourage foreign direct investment, especially by those in the Middle East?
SECRETARY PERRY: I don’t. Everyone wants to do business with the United States, just like Secretary Pompeo said. When you know that the rule of law is in place and you know the transparency that’s going to be there, people around the world want to do business with someone that they trust, and they know that they can trust the United States to come forward with our product and give them what they traded for. So I think this --
QUESTION: You’re not concerned?
SECRETARY PERRY: I think this is great opportunities for us to solidify our relationships with other countries around the world, coming in and being partners with us; that’s how you build real coalitions.
QUESTION: Will we be welcoming Chinese partnerships?
SECRETARY PERRY: Well, we already do. I mean, the Chinese are already investing here. If they will abide by the rule of law, if they’ll show us that they’ll be good partners, we’ll trade with anybody in the world. But we’re going to demand that they’re good partners. That’s the reason we’re looking at these sanctions and continuing these sanctions against Russia when they come into Crimea. It’s the reason that we stand up to Iran and say, “No, we’re not going to allow that type of action,” and the same message is going to be true to China where they’re leaning in on those islands out in the South China Sea for no other reason than to keep other people from producing those.
So powerful message here. You want to do business with the United States, we’re more than happy to do it, but you’re going to do it with transparency and you’re going to do it in good faith, you’re going to do it with the rule of law.
QUESTION: Twenty years ago Venezuela produced about 3.7 million barrels of oil per day. Today we don’t know for sure; it’s probably under a million barrels and going lower. People are eating garbage. The hospitals have no medicine. Money is worthless but bullets are invaluable. You believe that Cuba is propping up the Maduro regime, but what is the U.S. willing to do about it? How far are we willing to go in Venezuela?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Brian, it’s not just my belief, it’s a fact. The Cuban regime has foisted their model of economics on the Venezuelan people, and you can see the massive humanitarian catastrophe that is only getting worse. Energy systems don’t work, electrical grids don’t work. The socialist model, state control – it’s just a failed model that’s causing enormous grief to the Venezuelan people. The United States is determined to work along with allies – the Brazilians, the Colombians, the Paraguayans – now 50-plus countries have recognized that Maduro is illegitimate. It’s time for him to go, and we’re going to continue to do whatever work it takes – as the President said, every option is on the table – to deliver to the Venezuelan people the democracy they deserve, and then ultimately we’ll build back an economy where they can again have the wealth that they have under their own feet and offshore in Venezuela so that this can be a once-great country yet again.
QUESTION: They are still selling some barrels; we’ve tracked their ships – getting loans potentially from Russia, Cuba perhaps trading oil for dollars or help. Is military action off the table?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I mean, the President’s been very clear. We’re going to make this happen. Every option still remains out there and available to the United States. We’ll work with our allies to get the right outcome. Your point there, Brian, is exactly right. Look who their friends are: the Cubans, the Russians, Hizballah, the Iranians in Venezuela today. This is a cast of characters. This is not what the Venezuelan people need or want. It’s not what they deserve, and America is going to help deliver them out of this difficult place.
QUESTION: And U.S. companies, Secretary Perry, once Maduro is gone, whenever that may be – should they be willing and able and free to go into Venezuela under a new regime?
SECRETARY PERRY: Oh, absolutely. And I think that’s the real message, is that the American companies want to see this regime out of the way so that we can come back in, do the humanitarian aid, do the medicines – I mean, the idea that they blocked that, that’s everything you need to know about the Maduro regime right there in that one picture. Americans are ready to help, American companies are ready to go in there. Once he’s out of the way, Americans will be first in line to be able to deliver to those people the type of assistance that they need and that they deserve.