Despite the legends, lore, and true history carved out by American energy pioneers and titans of past generations. Despite the countless billions of dollars poured into research, technology, and invention. Despite the soaring global energy needs of a new century with a global population greater than the combined humanity of all previous human history.
Despite the maladies of old energy sources like coal and the insufficiency of new ones like wind and solar and ethanol. Despite the dazzling recent innovations of the petroleum energy business outlined in OKLAHOMANS 2, Chapters 13 and 17. Despite all this, plus the vision and audacity of a new generation of Oklahoma lionhearts, the reality of the new century was draped in mournful hues and shaded with dark foreboding.
Tight petroleum supplies conspired with mounting consumer prices that retarded demand, to stall the ability of oil and gas producers to expand their output. Investment millions poured, rather, into import terminals for petroleum from foreign nations. This seemed to signal the end of American hopes for a return to world energy leadership and independence. Rather, it suggested a long twilight descent into dependence on distant sources, nearly all of whom were motivated to blunt U.S. power and influence.
Electricity giants slunk back to the “dirty,” worn source of coal to supply the new century’s glittering computer and communications marvels. The giants of American oil skulked overseas not in search of new fields to harvest, but to locate foreign gas supplies for which they could at least serve as “junior partner” distributers.
Despite revolutionary fracking, horizontal drilling, seismic technology, and investor capital (OKLAHOMANS 2, Ch. 18), it seemed as though all the king’s men and all the king’s horses could not put the American oil and gas business back together again. They could neither breathe into existence fossil fuel that was not there, nor reach enough of what might be.
In Oklahoma, still smarting from the 1980s oil and gas debacle (OKLAHOMANS 2, Chapter 13), the public grimaced as world famous local petroleum company signs and logos they had seen all their lives disappeared. Other such companies changed through mergers and buyouts, or remained in the state while company ownership relocated out of it. Indeed, by 2006, the roll call of such exited companies stretched long. It included such familiar names as Champlin (founded in Enid), Citgo (Tulsa), Conoco (Ponca City), Halliburton (Duncan), Phillips 66 (Bartlesville), Skelly (Tulsa), and, that year, the arch-Oklahoman Kerr McGee (Oklahoma City).
Defying the headwinds of it all, in the words of former Houston mayor and United States Secretary of Energy Bill White, “Aubrey McClendon, with the confidence of an Old Testament prophet, described a bright future for domestic natural gas.” Continuing to meld the inspirations of others into his own singular, phantasmagoric whole, McClendon willed into being, through genius, bravado, optimism, arrogance, madness, obsession, and guts, another, distinctly American stampede into a new, perilous, and gargantuan frontier.
The above article is a bonus to the fascinating historical content found within our book
Oklahomans Vol 2 :
Statehood - 2020s
which can be purchased HERE.
View the inspiring 2-minute preview video HERE.