Elections could have consequences for domestic oil and gas production | PostIndependent.com

Elections could have consequences for domestic oil and gas production

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. Losses by conservatives in this month’s elections are likely to have a negative impact on oil and natural gas production, an executive with a local energy company says.Energy companies are bracing for the consequences after widespread victories by Democrats in state and national elections.”It’s going to become more difficult to produce domestic oil and natural gas,” said Duane Zavadil, vice president of government and regulatory affairs for Bill Barrett Corp., which has been active in gas drilling south of Silt.He called the election outcome “definitely a challenge” for the industry.”I think that the American people have a limited stomach for producing their own natural resources, and I think that’s going to be reflected in the coming years,” he said.Zavadil said conservatives typically support having the United States produce its own natural gas and be less dependent on foreign sources of energy. He thinks that’s the intent of the push by the federal government over the last few years to increase domestic gas production.But he doesn’t think that is likely to be the goal of the next Congress, after the Democrats wrested control of both the House and Senate from the Republicans.Conservation groups have maintained that in recent years the federal government has been pushing drilling too aggressively at the expense of the environment. But even with recent efforts by some elected officials to expedite drilling, Zavadil believes the nation as a whole has been moving in the direction of limiting domestic energy production, and that this year’s election results were another step in that direction.Zavadil said he supports the calls for more renewable energy and increased conservation, and considers those efforts overdue.”But the idea that we should punish oil and gas, really an important energy source … we can kind of cut off our nose to spite our face if we’re not careful.”The November election also saw Coloradans elect a Democrat, Bill Ritter, to replace term-limited Republican Bill Owens as governor. Democrats also increased their numbers as the majority party in the Colorado House and Senate.Greg Schnacke, executive vice president of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association, said it’s too early to say what the election will mean for the industry. Thanks to term limits in the state legislature, lobbying groups such as COGA have to get to know new lawmakers every two years, no matter which party they are from, and try to educate them about the energy industry, he said.”Our industry is providing a huge amount of jobs and positive economic impact throughout the state. We’re just going to have to wait and see what people are thinking about,” Schnacke said.Zavadil said he thinks people living in high-producing natural gas fields like the Piceance Basin, which includes western Garfield County, have a hard time understanding how much natural gas production is enough to meet the country’s needs. Garfield County residents can tend to think there’s still plenty of gas to be drilled domestically, he said.In fact, Zavadil said, “You’re in the middle of one of the few growing (natural gas) factories in the United States.”He called the Piceance Basin drilling “unprecedented, and to my knowledge the highest density of well development really anywhere in the country, and over a fairly broad area.”If it weren’t for success stories such as the Piceance, the country’s natural gas supplies would be in serious trouble, he said.Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119dwebb@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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