American oil, gas production righting our economy’s ship

Only a few years ago, our nation was looking toward a future of dependence. Dependence on foreign energy supplies, imported technologies, and the hope that one day an economic miracle would land at our feet and revitalize our nation. Today, however, it seems as though our waiting could be over – and for good. America’s on- and offshore oil and gas reserves have presented a new opportunity for the United States’ energy supply, and alongside it, tens of thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in revenues and economic activity.

America’s independent producers alone are responsible for developing 95% of our nation’s oil and gas wells, producing 54% of domestic oil and 85% of domestic natural gas. Despite the poorly painted picture of “Big Oil,” the real truth is that the average independent producer employees less than 12 employees. Yet, collectively, it’s the small independent producers that have made – and continue to make – great strides to provide and responsibly develop the job-creating, American resources we all rely on every day to keep our economy moving and competitive.

{mosads}The innovative combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, led by America’s independent producers, has unlocked vast quantities of oil and natural gas from shale deposits. At the same time, offshore development – both in shallow- and deep-water – enables communities and countless individuals to find opportunities to get back to work across the nation and to be proud again. Hotels are bustling, restaurants once on the brink of shutting their doors are packed, family farms are remaining intact, and governments are collecting much-needed revenues for schools, roads, and other important programs.

And the whole world is taking notice. As foreign oil imports into the U.S. are down from 60% in 2005 to 47% today, even OPEC leaders like Saudi Arabia have admitted increased access to North American reserves are beginning to change the global energy supply chain. Russia and other major natural gas-producing nations are seeing the power they were once able to leverage erode by the day as more natural gas is responsibly produced here at home and in other countries worldwide.

Yet with impressive growth has come obstacles. As the New Year quickly approaches, our industry stands at a crossroads. As readily and safely as American innovation has unlocked the potential of our on- and offshore energy reserves, heavy-handed regulation and unnecessary roadblocks have been misguidedly erected by some leaders in Washington. Threatening U.S. supply and restricting access to our nation’s abundant and reliable energy resources, duplicative and unnecessary bureaucratic red-tape continues to impede this development – and consequently stands in the way of job creation, economic growth, and energy security without adding any additional environmental safeguards.

This month, President Obama released a new 5-year plan for offshore leases. And while the plan represents a good first step, it certainly does not represent a bold statement that America is finally – once and for all – serious about our nation’s energy security. At the same time, the Obama administration continues to slow-walk permits in the Gulf of Mexico while also creating barriers for onshore development on taxpayer-owned lands onshore.

With every new and excessive limitation, another livelihood of one of the four million American workers who depend on the oil and natural gas industry for a well-paying job is put at risk and a new job disappears. Our producers are ready and able to develop our natural resources in a safe and responsible manner while providing for the needs of the American people. It is clear that we have the ability to help take our nation down the path of prosperity and energy security.

The coming year will certainly be full of electoral excitement, as it especially is every presidential cycle. Jobs continue to be front-and-center on the minds of the American electorate, and rightfully so. Our industry can continue to be a solution to our jobs crisis – if Washington will be a partner and not an adversary. We see a bright horizon of revived rust belt towns and a strong, broad-based energy outlook that sees our abundant oil and natural gas resources as a competitive advantage in the global economy – not a liability. We stand ready to do our part in ushering in a renewed, stronger and more secure America. This is the clarion call of our time.

Lazenby is founder and CEO of Bretagne, LLC. She was recently appointed as chairman of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA).


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