OTC 2018: Energy Policy Pro, Officials See Better Government-Industry Ties

OTC 2018

A word starting with the letter “o” that’s been rare in oil and gas in recent years – “optimism” – seems to be a popular sentiment at the 2018 Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), which began Sunday in Houston. How might the offshore oil and gas industry summarize its relationship with U.S. federal regulators? An energy policy pro with the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) suggests a pair of “c” words.

“A more collaborative and cooperative approach between government and industry” marks the key legislative and regulatory trends that the U.S. offshore industry has witnessed since the 2017 OTC, Brent Greenfield, CEA’s vice president of policy, told Rigzone. In addition, he said the federal government is implementing a policy agenda that “recognizes the importance of American offshore energy to U.S. jobs, a robust economy, strengthened national security and environmental leadership.”

Greenfield said that he expects more harmonious government-industry ties to continue as both entities work to implement the Trump administration’s agenda to achieve and maintain “energy dominance.”

“Over the course of the next year, the federal government will continue its evaluation of the areas to keep in play for potential access from 2019 to 2024,” said Greenfield. “Given the long lead times associated with the development of offshore energy, and the abundant energy resources that are located offshore, the decisions made over the next year – including whether to provide opportunities for expanded access in places like the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Alaska – will play a major role in determining the strength of the nation’s long-term energy security.”

Federal officials participating in a CEA-arranged panel discussion Monday also pointed out that pursuing these goals need not come at the expense of safe operations and good environmental stewardship.

“As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, I understand the importance of protecting our environment while promoting the safe and responsible development of energy resources,” said U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican.

“The reality is that oil and gas plays a fundamental role in the economy of the United States and the entire world,” added U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, a Republican from Louisiana.

Scott Angelle, Director of the U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), noted that the safe offshore energy operations are important because the industry creates jobs and provides royalties.

“We can have both,” said Angelle, who emphasized an “s” word and an “e” word. “We are not an either-or nation. We can have robust production and do it in an environmentally friendly way. It starts with safety, safety, safety and environment, environment, environment.”