DENVER — Oil and gas producers across the country need only wait 22 more months.
That marks the end of President Barack Obama’s term, and likely the end of the war on fossil fuels, national political writer and economist John Fund told a packed meeting hall at the Colorado Convention Center at the sixth annual DUG Bakken and Niobrara oil and gas conference on its second and final day Thursday.
The conference, put on every year by Hart Energy, focused this year on companies finding ways to continue innovation and operation in the bust side of the lifecyle. Crude prices reached a high over $100 a barrel last summer but have sunk more than 60 percent in recent months, signaling companies’ needs to downsize and control costs. That has meant job losses and price cuts across the board.
While most conference speakers discussed the ways companies can weather the cycle, Fund focused on the politics that have made life just that much more difficult for oil and gas producers in a lower-price environment.
“I know you’re here talking about exploration, and new projects, but if people in the Obama administration have their way, less and less of that will be available to you,” Fund said.
Simply, the oil and gas industry will never win under the current administration, he said.
“On one level, the administration is going to beat you up if the price (of crude) is high because you’re gouging consumers, but they’ll beat you up because you’re upsetting their goals,” Fund said. “They don’t want to hear the answer, they just want to beat you up. The politics of scarcity is what they’re all about.”
Key issues to keep an eye on in the next 22 months:
- The planned Keystone XL pipeline will essentially collect dust on Obama’s desk.
- The administration may ease the ban on crude exports but likely only a little.
- The Alaska National Wildlife Reserve, a longtime political hotbed when it comes to energy production, could effectively bring the Alaska pipeline to a halt. Crude production, he said, has slowed to about 500,000 barrels a day, down form 2.2 million barrels. The law that created the pipeline in the ’80s, put in a stopgap that states if oil transport dropped below a certain number, the pipeline would have to be idled and dismantled.
“That effectively means we’ll never be able to access resources in northern Alaska,” Fund said. “This is outrageous and the administration’s secret strategy.”
- Fracking. Obama’s administration just proposed new limits on fracking on federal land, but a last-minute amendment to that rule, Fund said, would apply to nonfederal land if federal waterways passed through it.
“This would be a big problem for Wyoming, because a lot of fracking takes place there and since they don’t have water. … If the government has its way, it will be stopped.”
- Climate change. Originally called “global warming,” the campaign was re-branded, Fund said, because the earth stopped “warming” 18 years ago. Climate change was the reason for Obama’s campaign to boost renewables.
“The administration is obsessed with this,” Fund said.
While admittedly pessimistic, Fund said there is a light shining through the clouds. The reason the environmental movement fights the industry so much is “because they’re not convinced they’re winning.”
“The reason is this. Over and over again, they have tried to suppress fossil fuels production but ingenuity and imagination and innovation form the fossil fuel industry has defeated them and deflected their goals,” Fund said. “They have been frustrated over and over again by your ingenuity and imagination.”
This article was written by Sharon Dunn from Greeley Tribune, Colo. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.