The 21st Century could be the coming of age for
natural gas ideals touted for many years by Robert Hefner III,
president of The GHK Co. in Oklahoma City.
Timing of his remarks Tuesday coincided somewhat with the
Governor's Energy Conference in downtown Oklahoma City Wednesday and
today's Compressed Natural Gas Conference.
"Natural gas is the principal energy to fuel the U.S. and global
economy," said Hefner, the pioneering wildcatter who successfully
drilled the first deep natural gas well, 24,454 feet down. "It will
be the most efficient, clean, cheap source of energy that there is
to keep us competitive going into the 21st Century.
"Energy is the most fundamental thing in an economic system. If
you don't have a good energy system then all your goods and services
are costing more vis-a-vis your competitors."
In a globalized economy - which is more of a concern as 1992
nears bringing online the European market cooperative - such issues
are imperative to address, Hefner said.
"It's really a technological system and I suspect that's
something that won't be brought up at the (governor's) conference,"
"They'll say some few things: That yes, natural gas is the
future; that on a (British thermal unit) basis, of course, the
greatest energy source Oklahoma has is not coal, is not oil, it's
"But if that's all we think about then we'll continue to be a
Third World country and be an exporter of products."
The integrated side of natural gas and technology must be
explored and capitalized upon, he said.
"If you think of it that way and sell it for diversification of
Oklahoma's economy," he said, "you have the synergistic effect of
the development of technology that is within in the natural gas
"We could be the Detroit of natural gas fueled vehicles. There
is no reason it shouldn't be Oklahoma.
"I would like to see this state take an incredible leadership
role in the development of natural gas and energy technology."
This aspect, he said, would create net industry for Oklahoma,
broadening the tax base and providing employment.
State politicians and policymakers must come to understand the
role of natural gas, he said. The governor's office has used oil
overcharge funds to launch natural gas conversions at Tulsa and Enid
schools plus some state vehicles, but it has been reluctant to
embrace mandates for the program.
Mandates are the logical impetus to bring natural gas to the
forefront such as with natural gas vehicles, Hefner said, although
adding he dislikes mandates. He said he supports draft legislation
proposed by Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Jim Townsend that
would mandate conversion of school buses and government vehicles to
"Oklahoma has more reason than any of the other producing states
to involve itself in a national leadership role for the natural gas
industry," Hefner said. "And by that, I mean the total energy