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TX Railroad Commissioner Porter on Energy Independence

"If the United States achieves energy independence, it will be because of the Permian Basin."
Midland -- A crowd gathered to hear from Texas Railroad Commissioner David Porter Thursday morning at the Petroleum Club. The forum was made possible thanks to a collaboration between the Consumer Energy Alliance and the Permian Basin Petroleum Association. The commissioner touched on a number of different issues the Permian Basin oil and gas industry is currently facing, but he also talked about energy independence.

"If the United States achieves energy independence, it will be because of the Permian Basin," said Commissioner Porter.
   
A bold statement, but it seems to make sense. According to Porter, Texas is currently producing almost 40 percent of crude oil in the U.S. and about 30 percent of the natural gas, with the Basin playing a major role in both.

"The Permian Basin is the leading oil and gas producer in the United States with approximately 20 percent in total oil production," he said.
   
Porter also stated that crude oil production increased by 800,000 barrels a day between 2011 and 2012, which is the largest increase since the beginning of commercial oil production. "That's 800,000 barrels a day of production that we're not having to import, and that makes a tremendous difference in the balance of trade and the economic vitality of the country."
   
But as the Permian Basin has experienced first hand, with all this increased production comes growth, and with growth comes growing pains. One of those growing pains addressed by the crowd at Thursday's forum was the rise in traffic accidents and fatalities. One woman who lost her husband to a traffic accident was searching for solutions.

"My husband was a geologist. He had a wealth of knowledge. 30 years in the oil business," she said. "And so, we're losing our resources out here as well whenever we lose someone in a car accident."
   
It's a problem that, no doubt, needs fixing, but one that Porter says the Railroad Commission has no control over.

"Really, the only thing we can do...and have done at times... is facilitate the conversation and relay the concerns we get because we're out in the oil and gas producing areas a lot. But it's not within our jurisdiction, so we can't pave roads or get more money for roads," said Commissioner Porter.

Other issues that were discussed at the forum included the importance of hydraulic fracturing, federal regulation, the permitting process for horizontal wells, and water usage in the oilfield. We'll be talking a lot more about that and what the industry is doing to conserve water in next week's Energy Report.

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