Are Wyoming’s industry and political leaders talking about the facts when they say that Obama and Washington bureaucrats are hurting domestic energy development? You have to wonder after today’s release of Headwaters Economics’ statistical analysis, “Drilling Rig Activity Nears All-Time High.”
Posted by Ann Rascalli
The refrain is repeatedly made from the oil and gas and coal industries, as well as national and Wyoming politicians (mostly Republicans, to be sure), that onerous regulations are blocking us from achieving greater energy independence. But what emerges from the new analysis tells a different and evolving story.
In fact, oil and natural gas drilling in the United States has returned to pre-recession levels.
(Click here for PDF of report.)
By late last month, there were 1,847 active rigs in the U.S., which equates to 91 percent of an all-time high reached during the natural gas surge of 2008 that saw 2,031 rigs. It is a remarkable recovery from the middle of 2009, when there were only 875 active rigs nationwide.
The disconnect between actual drilling and production figures and claims that the West is under siege by bureaucrats gone wild is simple politics, according to Matthew Garrington of the Checks & Balances Project, in a WyoFile article.
High energy prices, he said, are held up as evidence of too much regulation when evidence shows actual production remains tied to market fundamentals.
Commented the report’s author, Julie Haggarty, “Oil and natural gas drilling activity has made a strong recovery since reaching a recession-induced low in late 2008,” and she cites market prices and drilling technology advances as accounting for most of the increases in drilling activity.
It is true that the permitting process does take longer than it did a decade or two ago, and that creates problems for smaller energy companies. However, larger coal and natural gas operators that do the bulk of extraction in Wyoming and elsewhere, have adjusted by planning for more lead-time.
No doubt, the hyperbole exists on all sides of the energy debate in this country, but it is good for us average joe’s to have the facts.
You can learn more about this issue by reading Dustin Bleizeffer in the Wyofile.