By CLIFFORD KRAUSS
Some of the worlds top oil executives gathered in Houston this week for aCambridge Energy Research Associates conference, and they had a polite though pointed request for President Obama: Please open your waters and restricted lands to our oil and gas drillers.
Tony Hayward, the chief executive officer of the British energy giant BP, said,Today, a fourth of U.S. oil production comes from the 15 percent of the U.S. outer continental shelf that is available to our industry. We have the know-how and technology to tap these resources safely and with minimal impact to the environment.
We have the know-how and technology to tap these resources safely and with minimal impact to the environment.
He noted that in the last three decades, oil imports have increased from 36 to 65 percent of American consumption as the search for new sources of domestic crude has been constrained by lack of access to promising areas.
Mr. Hayward estimated that fields now off limits exceed 100 billion barrels of oil in place, with 30 billion of that recoverable.
Jeroen Van Der Veer, the chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell, was equally forceful. Take the continental shelf, take the north of Alaska, Mr. Van Der Veer said. I am personally convinced that companies can work very responsibly in these environments and work with local communities. It will be an easy win-win to get access to all those areas, and I think it will be good news for the United States.
Oil company executives have been making similar pitches for years, and this year they face a Democratic Administration and Congress that are not expected to be overly friendly to Big Oil even after gasoline prices have plummeted.
Their remarks came on the same day Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that a Bush Administration plan to open new areas to drilling would be put off and probably scaled back later this year.