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Opine Needles

The Blog

The Oil Business is in the Deep Fryer

A note before diving into the deep fryer. A few people suggested my “Venom Time” blog was too full of its own vitriolic poison. My inference was that I should be more tolerant of the view from the far left. Well, there are two quotes which merit mention in response to that line of thought.

–To my friends I say, “If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.”

–To my nameless, faceless detractors I think “Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.”

Are we clear?

The American Thinker posted the following blog on September 5. It generated some good comments, so I am posting it now on Opine Needles.

It is hard to think of anything more reviled than the oil industry. While the President, his staff, and Congressional majority leaders are inadvertently giving Big Oil a run for its money, they won’t have enough time to do enough damage to catch up. (It took the oil industry decades of attacks against its integrity to achieve its despised state.) Why haven’t Americans seen through this political ploy yet? This ruse is no more logical than is the Democrats’ long standing sway over Jewish, African American, and Hispanic voters.

It is important to note that oil and gas produced in the United States is not controlled by the monoliths associated with Big Oil. ( I don’t know about you, but whenever I hear “Big Oil,” I involuntarily picture five guys in suits with their hands up taking the oath before Congress.) In fact, more than two thirds of our daily oil and gas production comes from independent oil and gas companies. These companies are run by entrepreneurs; the kind of people who make this country what it is.

We Americans consume one out of every four barrels of oil produced on the planet. Even with our economy in the doldrums, we have a voracious appetite for all things made or fueled by hydrocarbons. None of us are against renewable sources of energy. The problem is that most self-proclaimed progressives refuse to acknowledge that we are decades away from developing economically viable ways and means of generating material amounts of those carbon-friendly alternatives. We are already billions of dollars into the renewable game, and yet less than one per cent of our daily energy demand powered by them. The simple fact of the matter is that we need oil and gas. And we will continue to need oil and gas for decades.

The Gulf of Mexico blowout in April was a tragedy. Eleven lives were lost and the region took an environmental and economic hit. That much you have heard countless times. But what you haven’t heard is that the fishermen are out again, and life in that wonderfully unique ecosystem is rapidly returning to normal. Man, oil, and nature have lived together for decades on the Gulf Coast. Regardless of how the Democrat leadership is trying to upset that carefully woven tapestry, the Gulf Coast will once again find a way to restore the delicate balance. The oil plume (if it ever existed) can no longer be found. The vast majority of the oil (which is, incidentally, of, by, and arguably for the earth) is gone. The Gulf of Mexico has moved on. The real tragedy is that Capitol Hill has not followed suit. To the extent there is still an economic hangover, those in the know will argue that the administration’s ongoing moratorium on drilling is the main culprit. Tens of thousands of hard working oil field hands are presently out of work. The administration’s response is to delay and prevaricate.

Congress just cannot let a tragedy go by without making sure they make it worse! On July 30, the House passed HB 3534; the so called “CLEAR” bill that is as much a knee jerk reaction to the blowout in the Gulf as the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 was to the Exxon Valdez incident in Alaska. The Senate has yet to pass a bill (thankfully) and with mid-term elections looming, we can put our hands together and pray Harry Reid will focus on other matters. The fear is that Democrat leadership thinks punishing the oil industry is a winner for the midterm elections. And that gets me back to my question; how on earth did we get to this strange place?

The oil business is about risk taking. The CEO of a large independent oil and gas company recently said “Every time we punch a hole in the ground, we are putting the entire company on the line. That’s what we do; day in, and day out.” What other businesses walk such an operational high wire? The deep water drilling and production in the Gulf of Mexico is the stuff of pioneers. Companies spend up to $200,000,000 to drill a dry hole. That’s real money. And yet the American people never hear about the risk. All they hear about the oil business is greed.

This past week there was a fire on board a production platform in the Gulf. There was no explosion. There were no injuries. There was no pollution. In fact, the source of the fire may have been the deep fryer in the galley. Yet CNN and other networks dedicated hours to a “breaking news” moment. “Explosion in the Gulf!” consumed the airwaves. It was reported that Congressman Waxman indicated that he wanted to launch an investigation into the cause of the reported explosion. As my kids would say “OMG”!

There are many voices speaking in Washington; the draconian economic consequences of the forthcoming legislative process may well force companies to reconsider whether they can afford to continue drilling and producing in the Gulf of Mexico. The last thing the United States needs is less oil and gas production. The environmentalists and most of those on the left are working hard to cripple our existing industry and ensure that no new areas are ever opened to new exploration. These people are wrong. Their actions will damage our economy and threaten our national security by making us even more dependent on oil emanating from unstable sources.

The oil business in the United States is in the deep fryer. We need to remove it from that grease, and give it a breath of fresh air. Perhaps after the November election we can put some of the newly jobless in the vacated fryer. Now that would be poetic justice.

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