The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 26, 2011

Home of the brave, free ... market

OIPA chief wants latitude when it comes to energy

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

— Mike Terry, president of Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, said he wants the free market to determine the future of the nation’s energy resources.

Terry said he does not follow offshore oil exploration issues closely because he has no members involved in that area. However, he said, since last year’s British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, safety is on the minds of everyone in the oil industry.

“I assume the safety standards have been elevated considerably,” he said regarding offshore work “This is causing those companies that do get involved in offshore to watch every step they make in drilling those wells.

Terry criticized the current federal administration for being anti-fossil fuel, saying it does not surprise him they are holding drilling permits.

But with the public crying for cheaper gasoline, Terry said whatever can be done to increase production should be considered. The presidential administration, he said, says one thing and does another.

He added tapping the strategic oil reserve is a short-term solution, if a solution at all.

“If they take all the oil out of the reserve it will be used in a few days or a few weeks and what difference will it make? Except to be replaced with higher-priced oil,” Terry said.

He added Washington bureaucrats are so hung up on alternatives to drilling they are overlooking solutions right under their noses, especially the resources in Oklahoma.

There has been increased oil and natural gas production in the last four-to-five years, and Terry said there probably is enough natural gas to last until our grandchildren's’ generation.

“The supply is cheap, it’s clean, but there is no push from Washington to use it,” he said.

Terry also referred to new supplies of oil in the Bakken Shale of Montana and North Dakota, plus new fields recently discovered in Oklahoma using new technology.

Oklahoma sends 70 percent of its natural gas out of state, and Terry think there should be a way to manage it here in the state.

“Oklahoma should be about finding ways to use it, it makes good economic sense, it creates jobs, it’s clean and affordable and we know how to use it,” Terry said.

When it comes to the energy industry, Terry said there is gridlock in the nation because of the current administration’s stance. Terry does not think alternative fuels make sense at this time without government subsidies, which Americans cannot afford.

“We should explore alternative fuels, but the free market should reign. We should allow it to work. That’s what made America great. We have the oil and gas here. It is how the state has driven the economy for 100 years,” he said.

Terry said there is a plentiful supply and the industry provides good jobs. The average oil and gas employee brings home about double compared to some other jobs in the state, he said.

“It makes sense,” he said. “Let the free market take care of it.”