“Specifically, I’m proposing that the SPE join the frontline in debunking anti-Oil & Gas bias and climate alarmism by providing educational materials, bringing in distinguished lecturers on the subject, holding related symposiums and discussion panels, and more; perhaps develop a Monograph on Energy, Progress, and Climate. As you should know, the facts support the Oil & Gas industry.
In a letter dated July 28, 2023, William “Rod” Guice, a petroleum engineer in California, called upon the Society of Petroleum Engineers to morally defend the industry and thus praise the livelihood of its members. His letter, which deserves to be read in its entirely, follows:
A manager whom I admire for a California Oil & Gas Operator made this interesting statement not long ago: “The Oil & Gas business used to be an honorable profession.” I agree and, despite what we hear from many sources, I think it still is. The world needs Oil & Gas and our Industry needs the SPE’s help.
I’m a Petroleum Engineer in Bakersfield CA, and am very proud to have worked for 45-years so far helping find and produce Oil & Gas, the greatest source of reliable energy in the history of the world. I’ve been an SPE member since my college days at Louisiana Tech University and am presently affiliated with the San Joaquin Valley Section. Down the years I’ve served the SPE and its membership in a variety of Section-Level capacities including Officer, Board Member, Study Group Chairman, presenter, and more.
Like most people now, I hear a steady stream of anti-Oil & Gas rhetoric from government, non-governmental groups, and media from local to mainstream. Truly, not a day goes by without some kind of local, state, national, or international news on how burning Fossil Fuel is causing catastrophic climate change, damaging the environment, or creating health hazards for people.
The alarming news is everywhere and both the volume of the hysteria and the alleged severity of the consequences are increasing. Worst of all, the constant negative messaging has gained traction with a large sector of the public and spawned massive increases in regulation, as well as a widespread movement to transition away from Fossil Fuel; in the process, significant damage has been to our Industry and its reputation.
As an experienced Oil & Gas professional, I know better than to buy into the alarmism and hope that most others who are associated with our Industry, also know better. In my opinion, the basis of the incessant negative messaging is dogma and it is far past time that our Industry began organized and coordinated work to reverse the trends.
Specifically, I’m proposing that the SPE join the frontline in debunking anti-Oil & Gas bias and climate alarmism by providing educational materials, bringing in distinguished lecturers on the subject, holding related symposiums and discussion panels, and more; perhaps develop a Monograph on Energy, Progress, and Climate. As you should know, the facts support the Oil & Gas industry. Reliable Energy is critical- it is the power that drives everything and the foundation of our society! Here’s some of the big picture!
A Few Benefits of Fossil Fuel to Humanity and Some of the Fallout from Lack of Access
- The Fossil Fuel story is very positive; 100% of people with access to it benefit greatly from it!
- Reliable energy from Fossil Fuel was the power that lifted today’s developed nations from a primarily agricultural existence, allowed mankind to use its minds more than its backs, and became the foundation of the Industrial Revolution.
- In the last 170-years, energy and products from Fossil Fuel have been the springboard for all of the advances in quality of life that developed nations now enjoy. Some outcomes of this are that human life expectancy has more than doubled while infant mortality and climate-related death rates have both plummeted.
- The 8-billion people who live on Earth today have better nutrition on average, than the 4-billion did who lived here 50-years ago due to highly effective ranching, dairy, and farming techniques, combined with extremely efficient harvesting and global food distribution processes, most of which are directly powered by Oil & Gas.
- We are mobile and adaptable thanks to reliable energy–regardless of the weather, we can protect ourselves in our homes, work places, schools, hospitals, and vehicles (planes, trains, cars, trucks, and boats), which are built by energy and products from, and are powered mostly by, Fossil Fuel.
- Energy drives ingenuity. For example, since 1970, as use of Fossil Fuel grew by 40% worldwide, pollution levels fell more than 50%.
- Reliable energy mostly from Fossil Fuel powers the Technological Revolution underway now.
- Today, countries with little or no access to reliable energy or infrastructure still rely on fuels such as wood and animal dung for heating and cooking, which actually do cause health problems.
- “Green” initiatives that would limit access to reliable energy in undeveloped countries, threaten to hold those countries in a state of poverty, disease, and ignorance (a great human rights cause).
A Few Facts About CO2
- CO2 is essential for life on Earth. Plants are the base of Earth’s food-chain and they “breathe” CO2. Carbon from the CO2 becomes part of plant tissue, and in turn part of the tissue of all animals that feed on plants. All life on Earth is Carbon-Based.
- Atmospheric CO2 levels were much higher in the geologic past than now and diverse plant and animal life thrived through it all.
- Earth has natural processes that slowly store CO2 preferentially into 1) Deep deposits of Carbonaceous rock and Fossil Fuel, 2) the Oceans, and lastly 3) the Atmosphere. Hence, atmospheric CO2 declined for about 140-million years from the early Cretaceous until the start of the Industrial Revolution. Unchecked, these processes would have continued reducing CO2 content, but the burning of Fossil Fuel released some of the formerly stored CO2 back into the air causing CO2 levels to rise.
- Data from Antarctic Ice-Core, shows that in the last 500,000 years Earth has had four complete interglacial warm to glacial cold cycles that were driven by vast natural forcings (we are living in the 5th interglacial period now). During the peak of the last glacial-cold period, about 18,000 years ago, atmospheric CO2 concentration fell to its lowest measured level in history- about 180ppm. At CO2 concentrations of 150ppm and less, plants die from CO2 starvation.
- By reversing the CO2 decline burning Fossil Fuel contributed to the long-term welfare of plant life, as well as the entire food chain above plants. Higher CO2 Levels now are helping increase harvests, re-green forests, and provide food for people everywhere.
- “Green” initiatives that propose to limit CO2 levels do not protect life; they threaten it.
A Few Facts About Earth’s Climate
Considering therefore that energy from Fossil Fuel brings overwhelming benefit to human life, that CO2 is necessary for life, and that the climate poses no threat to life, we have no cause for a rushed, government-mandated transition away from our best source of reliable energy.
Nevertheless, our Industry is demonized, regulations increase, drilling, frac, and CO2-EOR operations are banned, leasing is limited, setback legislation passes, windfall profits taxes are proposed, state governments encourage public lawsuits against Oil & Gas operators for health problems, and more. Some in our Industry have worked to resist the energy transition.
Others however, have chosen a course forward that downplays reliable energy, appeases alarmism, and aids energy-transition and net-zero goals. Furthermore, inexplicably, some have even proposed partnerships with the same governments that are trying to destroy them, to help achieve fairy-tale climate objectives. And sadly, the SPE is now an accessory and offers courses on Energy Transition and Carbon Management.
I wish to point out that Carbon Management is not a new concept- the Oil & Gas Industry has been successfully sequestering CO2 since the earliest CO2 floods (see the SPE Monograph, “The Practical Aspects of CO2 Flooding,” Jarrell, Fox, Stein, and Webb, 2002). The hysteria and over-regulation are unjustified. Someday, we may have to manage atmospheric CO2 (in the next century or two) and should therefore continue developing CCS capabilities. In the meantime, there’s no emergency and the whole world, especially undeveloped countries, needs more reliable energy now. So, I propose that we push back against the energy transition and defend our Industry while we still have one!
In the past, I’ve proposed that local SPE sections add speakers along these lines but was informed that the SPE is not a political organization. Be advised that this issue is bigger than mere politics- our quality of life may be at stake! So, I ask whether the SPE aspires to be a fact-based organization? If so, it’s time we materially resisted the misinformation that is endangering our Industry, reputations, and livelihoods. The “P” in “SPE” stands for “Petroleum.” I have personally developed and delivered community presentations on these subjects and have changed minds. I can help! Put me in! What can the SPE do?
Alex Epstein has made a strong case in lectures, books, and talking points that the oil and gas industry, from top to bottom, should take the moral high ground from the foes of modern, industrial, high-energy living. Rod Guice’s letter is firmly in that tradition. The Society of Petroleum Engineers should stand proud for its members and their livelihoods, no taxpayer subsidies or consumer mandates required.
Guice is working in a honored tradition. Liberty Energy has made a strong case in this regard with CEO Chris Wright a member of the New School of moral-high-ground fossil-fuel executives. So is Adam Anderson, CEO of Innovex Downhole Solutions, who exposed North Face/VF Corporation’s anti-petroleum stance. Another notable is Vivek Ramaswamy, Executive Chairman, Strive Asset Management, who exhorts more oil and gas production from the companies he invests in “to both create significant shareholder value and contribute to human flourishing.”
May these and other voices speak loudly and convincingly against Big Brother energy policies.