Husted talks oil and gas industry in Marietta

Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted was in Marietta Thursday for a roundtable discussion regarding the oil and gas industry.

Held at Artex Oil Company, members of the area’s natural oil and gas industry gathered to talk about a variety of topics.

Participating organizations included Energy Transfer, Artex Oil Company, Nine Energy Service, Oil Well Shares (OWS), Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA), Reno Oil and Gas, DeepRock Disposal Solutions, Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP), and Marietta College.

The roundtable met for discussion for some time before anyone else was allowed in. After the 30 minutes of discussion the media could listen to, participants could answer questions.

During the roundtable, Ben Ebenhack, Benedum Professor and Industry Partners Chair of Petroleum Engineering and Geology at MC, said in his last book, if the world were to reach 20 percent market share for solar vertical tanks, they would have to start building 10.4 million, 200 watt solar panels a day. Now the total would be 11 million, so it’s fallen behind, he said.

With his calculations, that’s five times what they currently manufacture to get 20 percent market share, he explained.

He said the price of gas was previously too low.

“Two dollar a gallon gasoline, I think, is too cheap,” he said. “Companies don’t hire. Drilling largely shuts down.”

He said citizens need to know they have to pay for their energy.

“We can’t expect a free ride. We can’t expect any miracle new energy sources to come along rapidly,” he said.

Robert Brundrett, president of the OOGA, said they’ve been doing a great job as an industry, trying to tell their story, explaining what all the oil and gas industry entails, who participates in it, and what role Ohio plays in it.

“We’ve been working with all our elected officials and it’s been great to work with the lieutenant governor to get him down here and see the industry and how it operates in Ohio,” Brundrett said.

He said one of the big things they discussed was the importance of natural gas and oil in Ohio’s economy, as well as what kind of jobs it provides.

“What role it plays in the overall energy mix in the country. What can we do policy wise both in Ohio and nationally to help lower those prices, but at the same time make sure we have a robust industry that can make Ohio and the country energy independent,” he explained.

Husted, a Republican, said he’s spent a good amount of time explaining to the public why they are paying higher prices at the gas pump and why inflation is “running out of hand.”

“This was a conversation to make sure everybody understands that I understand what’s going on in the industry and the industry understands at least in Ohio, we support them, even though the policies in Washington are driving investment out of the oil and gas industry,” he said.

He said President Joe Biden “said himself he wants to end the production of fossil fuels,” but “we don’t have a replacement for those fossil fuels.”

“Which means less drilling, less pipelines and fewer refineries, which means less oil and gas,” he said. “It creates a supply and demand which has driven up gas prices over $5 a gallon in the country. It makes families’ lives harder, and it is driving up the cost of living, which affects food prices, fuel prices and the prices of everything we buy and it’s completely a government-created problem.”

He said there is ample amounts of oil and gas in the shale crescent area, consisting of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.

“These companies are capable of helping solve this problem and we’ve got to get the federal government off their backs so they can go about doing it,” he said.

Husted added conversations like the one Thursday help him understand exactly what’s going on within these businesses.

“Higher gas prices happened because that was the goal of this administration and this Congress. They said if they drive gas prices up high enough, everyone will drive electric cars and that will solve the problem,” he said. “Well, that didn’t happen. They actually got the outcome they were seeking when they were telling people not to drill for oil, not to build pipelines and not to invest in refineries.”

Some economists disagree that Biden’s policies are to blame for the rising gas prices and inflation.

Brigham Young University Economics Professor Christian vom Lehn recently told the school’s news staff that the “recent surge in gas prices is clearly related to the violence in Ukraine. Gas prices rise quickly when there’s any expectation of future disruption to the energy supply.”

Purdue University Economics Professor Kelly Blanchard told a West Lafayette, Ind., news station that she has a different reason.

She said one cause of the rising fuel prices across the country could be the ongoing pandemic.

“We’re still trying to get back to our places of business so we’re using more gasoline than we had been during COVID,” Blanchard said. “So, that increase in demand is still there. But, it’s also combined with a really serious [supply shock], a big decrease in supply as well.”

She noted “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is partly to blame for the lower supply, since Russia is one of the world’s biggest exporters of oil.”

She stated the U.S. government could allow for more oil drilling domestically, but it would be in opposition to efforts to decrease America’s dependence on fossil fuels; and these prices could help with that.

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.


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