Bentsen Eyed as Key Man in New Energy Policy

Article excerpt

Following the Bush-Quayle victory, most royalty owners admitted it was the presidential team they had selected, according to a report issued by the National Association of Royalty Owners.

Many said, however, if the Democratic ticket had placed Sen. Lloyd Bentsen D-Texas, in the presidential slot, they would have pondered more on a decision.

Some royalty owners, however, believe Bentsen's defeat may prove an unexpected blessing. Here's why.

Almost immediately following the election, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, led by Saudi Arabia, threatened to overproduce until oil prices dropped further, unless other OPEC members adhere to production levels agreed to in prior meetings.

This threat can no longer be avoided, according to most officials. Yet, at a meeting of the American Petroleum Institute recently, delegates heard a leader in the U.S. House of Representatives say it would be tough to get the government to adopt a program that would ease such price problems, despite the seriousness of its impact on the producing sector of the nation.

U.S. Rep. Richard Cheney, R-Wyo., said low prices had caused most consumers and many federal officials to believe the nation didn't face serious energy problems.

U.S. Sen. John Breaux, D-La., agreed, saying warnings from government officials of oil producing states were being ignored despite our drift to more and more imports at the expense of domestic producers.

All now agree, however, someone is needed to lead the nation from the import dilemma.

And it seems, Bentson who remains chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is emerging as the key figure to solve the problem.

He was the only candidate of the four to endorse an import fee on foreign crude.

In his current post, Bentsen will probably carry more weight with the White House than as vice president.

Further, it was Bentson and U.S. Sen. David Boren, D-Okla, that took the lead in the Windfall Profits Tax repeal and who have tirelessly worked toward a national energy policy.

Given the opportunity, the report said, most insiders are now betting Bentsen will lead the charge - and subsequently be backed by President-elect George Bush. . .

- Now that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has reached an agreement on crude oil production, limiting it to 18.5 million barrels a day so the price of crude can reach the cartel's benchmark price of $18, independent producers can now breath a sigh of relief, right? Wrong.

The Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association is skeptical about the agreement reached in Vienna, said Mike Coldren, executive vice president.

The association, composed of 1,100 members of independent oil and natural gas producers in Oklahoma are still uncertain about what the production limit really means for the future of drilling for oil in the state.

The agreement, which is to go into effect Jan. 1, 1989, will limit production by OPEC to 18.5 million barrels a day, or about 4 million barrels a day less than what analysts say is currently being produced. …