There is no question that President Donald Trump and his Administration are bringing about a real sea change in federal energy policy , one that can legitimately be referred to as a revolution. Though the national news media, with its myopic focus on presidential tweets and scandal-mongering, has largely missed it, there is no denying that our energy policy world has had a radical shift since last November 8.
For the oil and gas industry, this shift has been mostly positive: the rollback of a series of ill-advised, poorly-constructed, often unnecessary regulations, the opening up of new tracts of federal lands and waters to leasing, the speeding up of permitting processes and lease sales are all policies designed to stimulate the production of U.S. oil and gas resources, in keeping with the Administration’s “America First Energy Plan”, and the President’s goal of U.S. “Energy Dominance.” After eight years of little but bad news coming out of Washington, DC, the industry has been very grateful for these and other efforts by the Administration to encourage increased domestic production, the industry’s new-found optimism reflected in the rising rig counts and drilling permit applications of the first 6 months of 2017.
But all of this change, even when positive, does bring a downside for an industry that places a high priority on its ability to plan its business : Uncertainty. Anytime you have rapid and radical change, whether positive or negative, confusion and uncertainty are going to result. There is no question that the industry experienced a great deal of rapid, radical change of the negative sort over the last eight years, but when companies knew what was coming, they could at least plan for compliance and work the costs into their projected economics for planned capital spending.