Oklahoma's energy secretary Michael Ming touts natural gas
BY ROD WALTON World Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
8/28/12 at 4:00 AM
Read more energy stories that impact Tulsa.
Oklahoma's energy policy is focused on free-market realities whereas the federal government picks winners and losers, state Secretary of Energy Michael Ming, an engineer and educator, told business recruiters and University of Tulsa students Monday.
"We're going to talk pragmatism vs. ideology instead of trying to grab the unknown silver bullet," he said during the TU Energy Update and Recruiters Workshop. "We'll take what we have and make it better."
Oklahoma is fortunate, he said, that it basically has almost every major energy source - oil, natural gas, solar and wind - in abundance within its boundaries. The only problem, as Americans have learned on the federal level, is coming up with a plan, he said.
The state has that now, too, Ming pointed out. The Oklahoma First initiative is using real-world solutions - from greater production to better efficiencies - to help solve the problem of depending on foreign oil.
Oklahoma First puts natural gas as the centerpiece of the state policy, but not the only piece. The initiative will tap greater oil drilling resources and find ways to make wind energy more competitive by not making it fend for itself, he said.
"If you're going to bring renewables into any meaningful scale it has to be in partnership with natural gas" via the electrical power grid, Ming said.
Natural gas is the main way forward, under the state plan, thanks to the shale revolution which has deepened historical reserves and lowered prices so that the fuel costs less than $1.50 per gallon of gas equivalent, nearly a $2.20 bargain over regular-grade gasoline. Ming noted that he drives both a bi-fuel, natural gas truck and a Toyota Prius electric-gas hybrid.
"There are 15 million natural gas vehicles worldwide, but less than 150,000 in the U.S.," he said. "This is a fuel which has lower emissions, saves American jobs and money."
Gov. Mary Fallin announced details of the Oklahoma First energy plan late last year. In the past two years, the state has enacted two key rules which Ming said will help the industry: the shale reservoir development act, which modernized facets of horizontal drilling; and innovations to flow-back water pits, which allows producers to reuse water from hydraulic fracturing.
Ming stressed the need for presidential approval of the Keystone XL pipeline from the Canadian border to the Gulf Coast. Oil stored at the Cushing hub needs an outlet and to relieve the backup that is forcing down domestic West Texas Intermediate crude prices compared to the London Brent variety shipped into gulf refineries.
"We have $180 million lost revenues in gross production taxes due to the price differential," he said.
Ming also touted the Oklahoma Corporation Commission's granting of utility status to the Plains and Clean Line transmission project. The multibillion-dollar Clean Line will move wind energy generated in Oklahoma to the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Oklahoma also is connecting veterans who seek high-skill energy jobs via the tulsaworld.com/okjobmatch website.
"We got this done without a mandate," he said.
The TU Energy Update and workshop also sought to connect students with business recruiters for either post-graduate jobs or internships.
"We'll give them an update on what's going on in the business school," Ted Jacobs, director the Energy Management program at TU's Collins College of Business. "It gives them an opportunity to see the students."
Original Print Headline: Energy secretary touts policy
Rod Walton 918-581-8457
Oklahoma Secretary of Energy Michael Ming speaks at a luncheon Monday at the University of Tulsa. STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World