Oil & Gas Should Transcend Party Politics

It’s been quite a week in Washington, D.C. As everyone and their cousin knows, the federal government has shut down due to Congress’ inability to pass a continuing resolution to fund the federal government. In the midst of party politics and tensions running high when it comes to just about every issue, it would be nice if energy at least could be seen as a more bipartisan issue.

Last week, as part of IPAA’s new Energy Leader series, Host Russ Capper spoke with  chemical and petroleum engineer Dr. Michael Economides, a professor at the Cullen College of Engineering, University of Houston, and an internationally renowned expert on energy geopolitics. He spoke to this exact frustration.

Dr. Michael Economides holds a PhD in Petroleum Engineering from Stanford and is a self-proclaimed liberal democrat who bemoans the fact that oil and gas is a controversial industry whose support is too often divided along party lines. In fact, Dr. Economides said, “Energy and energy abundance should actually be the most populist of all issues.” After all, it is a driver of economic growth, job creation, and energy security. He explained that if you took the entire oil and gas industry worldwide and it would be the biggest economic entity besides the United States. That is huge.


More from the interview:

  • “The production of natural gas from shale is arguably the biggest and best story in the history of the American oil and gas business in the last 50 years. There is no doubt about that. This is an extraordinary feat — the quintessentially American character, the can-do attitude, innovation, private industry taking the lead, letting the economy function as it has without government interference. You put all of these things together and truly, shale gas should be one of the best stories — not just energy stories — but one of the best stories that an American would be proud of.”
  • “The bottom line for most people is this: Right now we have gas for 300 years. There goes in shambles this whole idea that we are running out of hydrocarbons. Oil is expanding also dramatically…every estimate right now suggests that the United States will surpass Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s largest producer of oil. What a dramatic turnaround.”
  • “The energy industry is no question generating the best-paying jobs. Let me shock you a little bit. From my university, a BS in Petroleum Engineering right now starts at $100,000 a year. That’s a 21 year old kid…A PhD in Petroleum Engineering will start at $125,000.”

And just yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. is overtaking Russia as the largest oil and gas producer. U.S. imports of natural gas and crude oil have fallen 32 percent and 15 percent respectively in the past five years, narrowing the U.S. trade deficit.


Adam Siemenski, head of the U.S. Energy Information Administration said, “This is a remarkable turn of events. This is a new era of thinking about market conditions, and opportunities created by these conditions, that you wouldn’t in a million years have dreamed about.”

Red or blue, the shale revolution is something we can all celebrate.