Energy conferences are prevalent this time of year. Perhaps too
much so. There have been at least four in the last month.
The latest of these was the 8th annual international energy
policy conference sponsored by the Sarkeys Energy Center, University
of Oklahoma and the International Society of Energy Advocates.
Robert L. Parker, chairman of the board of Parker Drilling Co., a
company based in Tulsa with worldwide drilling operations, was the
keynote speaker. He is widely recognized as an authority on national
and international petroleum policies.
With tongue in cheek perhaps, Parker told the group that contrary
to common believe this country has an energy policy.
Every two years by law it is required that an energy policy be
prepared. The first one was only a page long, and basically said for
government to get out of the way and let the industry do its job.
The newest energy policy is five pages.
"Like most of them it is not bad, not good, it just doesn't say
He reminded that a real policy must include all aspects of
energy, and one of the problems about developing it is the inability
of energy people to agree.
"Each of us has a different viewpoint on what it should contain.
I'm a drilling contractor. I look at it differently than others.
When you sit down to write one each of you will write it from your
There is one important change in the new one that says you can
drill on "non-park lands." That is very important, because when you
say federal lands most people immediately think of Yellowstone
National Park or Yosemite, where they are adamant about not
"The real energy policy in Washington, D.C., is what I call
political energy. Politics comes ahead of oil and gas and other
sources of energy," Parker continued.
He suggested it is politically popular to promise alternative
energy sources such as wind and sun, and pointed out that $81
billion of tax money has been spent researching wind and sun.
He said we can still use it and it will help, but it could do
only about 1 percent of the needs of the United States. It is
misrepresented as a solution to our energy problem. It is
misrepresented as if we can stop pumping wells and switch to
something else, but there is no something else.
"We do not have an alternative. Natural gas is one of the best,
and is important, but we do not have enough. The demand for natural
gas is out of sight," Parker declared.
"Electricity is a big problem in the U.S. today. We told them we
had gas, lots of it, cheap and clean. We don't. They bought it. They
are building generating plants like crazy -- 40 in California.
Because they want all this gas we're coming up with, we're
compounding the demand for it."
But Parker admonished that $4 natural gas quickly brings coal
back into the picture even with the scrubbers and other
As a result of the higher gas prices, we are losing some market
share. He pointed out that 11 plants have switched to coal within
the last 30 days.
"We are losing market share because of the real fear that we have
guaranteed natural gas that we may not be able to deliver. …