Jane Van Ryan
Posted December 2, 2009
The numbers tell the story. The official U.S. unemployment rate stands at 10.2 percent but is believed to be closer to 20 percent. Economic analysts say that the country will pull itself out of the recession, but it's likely unemployment levels could remain high. Meanwhile, as the holidays approach, consumers are pinching pennies and worrying about an uncertain future, which could dampen their holiday festivities as well as the sales expectations of the nation's retailers.
Amidst this gloomy economic picture is one bright spot. As reported by E&E Publishing's Greenwire, the oil and natural gas industry will finish 2009 with the largest one-year gain in domestic oil production in 40 years.
New projects in the deep water Gulf of Mexico and North Dakota's Bakken Shale formation are helping to raise U.S. oil production by an estimated 6.4 percent over 2008. Quoting Platts analysts, the article said:
"For comparison, in the 40 years since U.S. oil production peaked annual output has jumped only eight times. Seven of those increases were minimal." The analysts added, "Only in 1978 was there a jump of significant magnitude, an increase of 5.6 percent."
These production gains are providing jobs for American energy workers, generating revenues for government, and have decreased oil imports to the United States in recent months, thus increasing U.S. energy security. Just imagine what the impact could be if the oil and natural gas industry were allowed to drill in more places in the United States, where the best energy prospects are believed to exist.
There's no question that the administration has slowed the pace of traditional energy development. A recent Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States (IPAMS) position paper shows that the administration has issued 1,934 fewer energy leases and leased 1,146,949 fewer acres in the Inter-mountain West than during the first year of the Clinton administration.
It also has delayed action on the 2010-2015 offshore Five-Year Leasing Plan, canceled Utah leases issued in 2008, delayed the issuance of research leases on oil shale, and as a result, has hampered the industry's ability to hire U.S. workers and do its part to remedy the nation's economic plight.
A new API brochure shows that the U.S. oil and natural gas industry employs or supports 9.2 million American workers. These hardworking individuals include geoscientists who use advanced technologies to find oil and natural gas deep in the Earth's crust, chemical engineers who refine oil into fuels, construction crews who build refineries and pipelines, service station personnel who sell gasoline and change oil, and thousands of other workers whose jobs are made possible by the economic opportunities presented by industry operations.
They, in turn, contribute to the nation and the economy in myriad ways by earning a paycheck, paying taxes, supporting their families, and providing fuels that allow all of us to enjoy the American standard of living.
The oil and natural gas industry wants to be part of the solution to today's ailing economy. Opening more U.S. areas to energy development could give the economy a much needed boost. As API's President Jack Gerard has stated:
"More drilling for oil and natural gas will mean more energy for America, more well-paying jobs, and trillions of dollars of much-needed revenues that will help federal, state and local governments pay for critical services."
For more information, read API's jobs brochure below.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.