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Obama's drilling plan gets mixed reviews

April 01, 2010
President Obama announced the opening more of America’s coastlines to oil and natural gas drilling, but his big news was met with skepticism from Oklahoma oil and gas producers, including a trio of OIPA board members.

From The Oklahoman:

Harold Hamm, president of Enid-based Continental Resources, said it is nice to hear administration officials say something positive about the oil and gas industry for a change, but the administration still is sending mixed signals.

Opening up new avenues for drilling is a good thing, but it appears officials still intend to pursue additional taxes on the industry, he said.
Hamm said industry representatives will keep pushing officials to support increased domestic exploration, which he is convinced can help the United States push its oil imports to less than 50 percent of its consumption in the next five years.

That would be a psychological boost for the nation, improving the trade balance and creating new jobs, he said.

Tom Price, senior vice president for corporate development and government relations at Chesapeake Energy Corp., said the move into new offshore areas is a good first step, but it has no immediate effect on the country’s energy situation at a time when the United States has a 100-year supply of natural gas.

Price said it is perplexing that the administration has not paid more attention to natural gas, a cheaper and cleaner burning alternative to oil.
He said the administration still should focus on the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel in fleet vehicles and as a replacement for coal in the nation’s power plants.

"That would be a step in the right direction,” Price said.

Oilman T. Boone Pickens, an Oklahoma native, is a natural gas advocate, as well. Pickens said the president’s plan is an important step in achieving energy reform in the United States.

"We should be taking full advantage of every available American resource to help decrease our crippling dependency on foreign oil — a dependency that is slowing our economic recovery and jeopardizing our homeland security,” he said.

Pickens said development of the newly opened offshore areas is still years away, so the country must focus on other domestic alternatives.

Mike McDonald, chairman of the Oklahoma Independent Producers Association, said it still appears the Obama administration does not have the best interests of the oil and gas industry in mind.

The Obama administration continues to push for an end to incentives that have bolstered the industry for years.

"New and increased taxes will mean Oklahoma’s oil and natural gas producers will scale back drilling budgets, eventually resulting in lost jobs and increased energy prices for consumers,” McDonald said. "In Oklahoma, when there is no drilling, there are no jobs and there is no economic growth.”
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