By Ryan Sitton
As we approach Christmas and the New Year, it’s a great time to reflect on what 2016 brought us and what 2017 has to offer. The energy industry has accomplished much this year and been resilient in spite of the challenging commodity price environment and Obama regulations. Operators have weathered the storm, and I am confident that 2017 will be a year of recovery for the energy industry.
The Railroad Commission, which is largely funded by industry fees, has also felt the sting of low oil and gas prices. With permitting activity down, the RRC collects fewer fees but has adapted in order to do more with less. As a state agency, it is our responsibility to be fiscally responsible. For example, the RRC is allocated over 800 full time employees but through attrition is performing with fewer than 700.
Seismicity is another issue that has been a priority this year at the Railroad Commission and will continue to be in the New Year. I have given many interviews with members of the media about what we are doing at the RRC to further study induced seismicity because I believe it is important that Texans feel confident in our ability to keep them safe. The RRC is working closely with the Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG) and Center for Integrated Seismicity Research (CISR) to better understand both naturally occurring and potentially induced seismicity and the associated risks.
As we look ahead to 2017, we can expect a better regulatory environment for oil and gas. President-Elect Donald Trump will peel back overly burdensome regulations, creating more opportunities for oil and gas to grow and thrive. Already President-Elect Trump has made clear his support of oil and gas development through his Cabinet choices. I commend him for selecting men and women who have real world work experience and understand what it means to sign the front of a paycheck. Business acumen is good for the economy and means that we will see common sense regulations in place of a radical liberal agenda.
The outlook for oil and gas drilling is strong, particularly in the United States. If you look at the shift in the global landscape of where people are investing their dollars, they’re looking more at Texas today than they have in 50 years. We have much to be grateful for this holiday season, and I particularly want to thank you for your continued support. I look forward to serving you in 2017 and wish you a very Merry Christmas.