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Energy opinions offered

October 19, 2009
In The Oklahoman's editorial pages, a pair of energy experts weighed in on the issues facing the state's oil and natural gas producers.

Berry Russel, president and CEO of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, says Washington, D.C., decision should spur devlopment in American energy fields and warns that current proposals from the Obama administration would do the opposite.

From his Oct. 18 article "Solutions should bolster development":

Now more than ever, though, with unemployment at a 26-year high, such punitive taxes will only discourage domestic energy production, leading to less stable — and possibly higher — energy costs and a deeper, more dangerous dependence on foreign energy sources.

While the administration should be applauded for its commitment to diversifying our nation’s energy supplies, these proposed tax increases would cripple independent energy producers who are responsible for much of the economic activity throughout Oklahoma and many other states. In no uncertain terms, making it more difficult to produce, refine and deliver oil and gas to the American people will increase our dependence on foreign oil and lead to less stable prices at the pump.

Today, independent oil and gas producers are responsible for 90 percent of the wells developed in America. Throughout Oklahoma, thousands of good-paying jobs, hundreds of millions in government revenues and decades of clean-burning natural gas have been realized. Independent producers have historically reinvested more than 100 percent of their cash flow back into the business of developing new sources of energy.

However, this positive economic growth and energy security would be dramatically undercut if taxes were raised even higher on energy production. These proposed hikes would shut down 20 percent of our nation’s oil production and 12 percent of its natural gas, negatively impacting the entire U.S. economy, which lost 263,000 jobs in September alone.

As this process continues to move forward, several key facts must be considered. Fossil fuels represent nearly 85 percent of the energy that fuels the U.S. economy. And more than 60 percent of the energy that keeps households and American families, small businesses and our manufacturers running every day is from natural gas and oil.

Devon Energy's Vice President of Exploration and Development David Hager thinks Arthur Berman, the geological consultant who has recently questioned the long-term viability of shale gas, is off base.

From his Oct. 19 column, "Shale speculation off base":

The fact is that shale is a proven success story. The Barnett Shale, which Berman targets with his skepticism, has grown from almost nothing 10 years ago to the largest producing gas field in the United States. Today, the Barnett’s annual production is enough to heat 20 million homes for a year.

The shale story doesn’t stop at the Barnett. Devon and many other energy companies across North America are applying what we have learned in the north Texas field to other shale fields. The industry is investing billions to develop natural gas production from untapped shale formations in Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, New York, British Columbia and elsewhere.

Because of shale, natural gas production in the United States has been on the increase in recent years, reversing a prolonged trend downward. And, these wells are expected to produce for 40 or 50 years.

Meanwhile, the country’s natural gas inventory is growing. The Colorado-based Potential Gas Committee estimates reserves are up 35 percent over 2006 estimates, largely because of new access to shale natural gas. Estimates suggest the United States has nearly 2,000 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves, enough to last more than a century.

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