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Leading US oil and gas producer reacts to impact of energy sanctions on Russia

Oil refinery
Posted at 6:30 PM, Mar 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-09 20:30:00-05

Colorado is a leading oil and gas producer in the United States and could be a part of the solution in the current oil and gas strain.

“A lot of people are looking at these higher prices saying, ‘Why don't you just drill more and produce more oil?’ and it's a pretty complicated answer,” said Dan Haley, president and CEO of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.

Haley said the state could increase the supply of gasoline for cars as well as natural gas but added the state needs to process and approve drilling permits.

“We know we need oil and natural gas for decades to come in this country. So, we need to have that conversation. We need to have a decision to say, 'Where do you want to get this resource from? Do you want to rely on Russia? Or do you want this product to be produced here in this country and in Colorado, where I would argue we are producing oil and natural gas cleaner, better and safer than most anywhere on the planet?'” Haley said.

During a press conference Tuesday, President Joe Biden said there are more than 9,000 onshore drilling permits already approved but they haven’t been used. Gov. Jared Polis said many of those are in Colorado.

“There’s over 2,000 in Colorado that have been approved, but haven’t been used," Polis said. "It is really a matter of when and how the industry chooses to invest and raise capital. Certainly, if oil prices are sustained at over $100 a barrel for a long period of time, it will lead to increased production."

The President of the Western Energy Alliance Kathleen Sgamma said receiving a permit is only one part of it.

“A permit to drill is not the only permit we need on federal lands. We need rights of way to put in place pipelines and natural gas gathering lines because of regulators and market signals,” Sgamma said.

She said the industry is also in need of more money.

“If we can't get capital, then we can't develop wells, because they're multi-millions of dollars to develop any given well,” Sgamma said.

Polis, along with other governors, said an immediate solution to help ease economic impacts is for Congress to suspend the federal gas tax.

“Reduce the gas tax to 18.6 cents per gallon and that will provide some relief at the pump and make sure that we can continue to pressure Putin to end his invasion of Ukraine,” Polis said.

While instant relief is necessary for many in the U.S., authorities say this crisis is also an example of the country’s need to rapidly move to renewable energy.

This story was originally published by Ivan Rodriguez of KMGH in Denver, Colorado.