PESA’s Government Affairs Committee, led by Todd Ennenga, Halliburton, had an insightful conversation with Rep. Kelly Armstrong, (R-ND), who previously spoke during PESA’s February Washington D.C. Fly In.
Rep. Armstrong’s long personal history in the oil and gas industry gives him a unique understanding of the issues facing the OFS sector. His family owns Armstrong Corporation, which includes oil and gas exploration, and he previously served on the North Dakota Petroleum Conference for more than a decade, where he focused on rewriting pipeline legislation.
“I was born into the oil business,” Armstrong said. “We operate just under 30 wells and they’re all shut in.”
With this background, Rep. Armstrong understands how COVID-19 has affected the oil and gas industry and is keenly aware of the “loss of human infrastructure” that comes with reduction in drilling activity.
“Sixty-five to seventy-five percent of North Dakota’s budget is based on oil revenue, so if you care about schools, flood protection, police officers … you need to care about the oil and gas industry,” Armstrong said.
Rep. Armstrong reiterated that maintaining human and service infrastructure is crucial as the country and industry emerge from the pandemic and said that economic impact of each Bakken well is widespread throughout the economy of the state.
Rep. Armstrong is working to help the oil and gas industry by attempting to strengthen the state’s program for plugging abandoned oil wells. He is a co-sponsor of orphan well legislation with a number of Pennsylvania Republicans, and is working on a bipartisan bill with Rep. Torres Small (D-NM-2), to appropriate federal funding that could be accessed by states through a grant program for plugging orphan wells. This initiative is one where Republicans and Democrats can come together, he said. It’s an initiative that provides an opportunity for oilfield service workers to return to work and contains methane emissions. To him, this program represents a “jobs program” and an area for bipartisan cooperation. PESA has also been working with Rep. Small on the development of the yet-to-be introduced legislation.
Ennenga asked Rep. Armstrong what the industry could expect under a potential Biden Administration. Rep. Armstrong predicts fights ahead for the oil and gas industry depending on who has control of the administration’s energy agenda.
“We need to recognize that we’re going to use X amount of oil and gas in this country,” he said. “If we aren’t allowed to develop it in the United States, we will go back to the age of our strategic adversaries being our suppliers.”
He said that in addition to fights between Democrats and Republicans, he anticipates intra-party disputes among Republicans on intangible drilling write-offs, which are often characterized as oil and gas subsidies, and offshore access. Overall, Rep. Armstrong remains focused on not giving up “long-term bad policy for short-term skirmish wins” when it comes to the industry.
If you would like to join the Government Affairs Committee, please reach out to Vice President Government Affairs Tim Tarpley.