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Fascinating interview with the founder of Continental
Resources Harold Hamm in the Wall Street Journal.
Harold Hamm calculates that if
Washington would allow more drilling permits for oil and natural
gas on federal lands and federal waters, the government could over
time raise $18 trillion in royalties. That's more than the U.S.
The Bakken oil fields of North Dakota are proving to be huge.
possibly 24 billion barrels.
One reason for the renaissance has been
OPEC's erosion of market power. "For nearly 50 years in this
country nobody looked for oil here and drilling was in steady
decline. Every time the domestic industry picked itself up, the
Saudis would open the taps and drown us with cheap oil," he
recalls. "They had unlimited production capacity, and company after
company would go bust."
Today OPEC's market share is falling
and no longer dictates the world price. This is huge, Mr. Hamm
says. "Finally we have an opportunity to go out and explore for oil
and drill without fear of price collapse." When OPEC was at its
peak in the 1990s, the U.S. imported about two-thirds of its oil.
Now we import less than half of it, and about 40% of what we do
import comes from Mexico and Canada. That's why Mr. Hamm thinks
North America can achieve oil independence.
But read this and weep:
A few months ago the Obama Justice
Department brought charges against Continental and six other oil
companies in North Dakota for causing the death of 28 migratory
birds, in violation of the Migratory Bird Act. Continental's crime
was killing one bird "the size of a sparrow" in its oil pits. The
charges carry criminal penalties of up to six months in jail. "It's
not even a rare bird. There're jillions of them," he explains. He
says that "people in North Dakota are really outraged by these
legal actions," which he views as "completely discriminatory"
because the feds have rarely if ever prosecuted the Obama
administration's beloved wind industry, which kills hundreds of
thousands of birds each year.