Oklahoma experts: Oil and gas here to stay

Kathryn McNutt | The Journal Record

OKLAHOMA CITY – Given recent political events, it would be easy to believe Big Energy is under attack.

But Oklahoma industry experts say that the Biden administration’s plan threatening to ultimately shut down oil and gas production, instead powering the nation with renewable energy, is utter fantasy and a prescription for failure.

“Zero would be a complete disaster to America’s economy,” said Steven Agee, business dean and economic professor at Oklahoma City University and president and chief operating officer of Agee Energy.

Agee said the fringe wants all hydrocarbon production stopped, but 80% of domestic energy consumed comes from oil, gas and coal. “That can’t be replaced for decades. The transportation sector is set up to run on that,” he said.

Even if the country moved to 100% all-electric vehicles – as General Motors has pledged to do – the electricity to power the batteries must be generated somehow, Agee said.

“Those who say the U.S. must end oil and gas production are living in a fantasy world,” said Brook Simmons, president of the Petroleum Alliance of Oklahoma.

The country already has become over-reliant on intermittent sources like wind and solar, Simmons said.

“You are going to need baseline energy. The most abundant, affordable and reliable is clean-burning natural gas for power generation,” he said.

Simmons said natural gas saved lives during the recent record cold spell.

“It’s a teachable moment. I hope people are paying attention,” he said. “Outside the oil and gas producing states, they don’t understand how they get electricity, how their homes are heated.”

The oil and gas industry has had a difficult time due to “misguided perceptions” for decades, said Dewey Bartlett Jr., chairman of the Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance and president of Keener Oil & Gas Co. in Tulsa. “The new administration is really stepping it up. It’s not unexpected.”

As candidates, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris and their supporters “were very vocal about plans to dismantle the industry” with no understanding of how important it is to daily life, Bartlett said. “This type of attitude without knowledge is extremely scary.”

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