After a full morning of investor presentations by leading oil and gas companies including Range Resources (ticker: RRC), Core Laboratories (ticker: CLB) and Whiting Petroleum (ticker: WLL), Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper took the stage during a surprise visit to EnerCom’s 19th Oil & Gas Conference today.
The governor pointed out that “unemployment in Colorado is down to 5.3% to pre Great Recession levels. Colorado was recently named the No. 1 fastest growing economy,” the Governor told the audience of approximately 2,000 attendees at North America’s largest oil and gas investor conference at the Westin Downtown Denver.
“We want to continually improve the social contract, but at the same time our job is to create a regulation environment that allows businesses to succeed.” The governor noted that oil and gas is a $30 billion industry in the state that delivers 120,000 jobs with an average wage 30% above the state’s median wage.
The governor pointed out that “horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have brought oil and gas production to places where it’s never been, and that the industry and the state need to provide comfort for people who live in nearby neighborhoods who feel that they have the right to quiet enjoyment, people who felt that what was going into the ground was too close to their homes.
“People want to feel that the air is clean and they should be made aware that a lot of money is being spent to make sure the air is clean and that the oil and gas industry is paying to do that.” He named some oil and gas companies that are close to being water use neutral.
“It’s a partnership between the industry and government, between the industry and the public,” the governor said. “For example, we want to get compressed natural gas into more fleets; it’s cleaner and less expensive.” Governor Hickenlooper said he views these kinds of changes as a three legged platform of business, government and non-profits.
Referencing the upcoming business/government/citizen board being created to look at environmental decisions, the governor discussed that the risk of having a 2,000 foot drilling setback on the ballot negatively affected investment decisions of many companies looking at Colorado, and a solution had to be reached. He said that energy development can be successfully accomplished by companies who respect and protect private property. The governor said that the $8 billion in appreciation of energy stocks after the Colorado initiatives were pulled demonstrated the market’s assessment of it.
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