Platts: IPAA Chief Says Obama Hinders Oil and Gas Industry

President Barack Obama's policies on taxes, financial reform and the environment threaten to derail the oil and natural gas industry's potential to help create jobs and turn around the economy, the chairman of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) said on Thursday.

Speaking at the Platts Energy Podium in Washington, Bruce Vincent said the industry is dealing with a number of attacks, including concerns over the environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing in natural gas shale production, proposals in Congress to end a number of tax breaks for the sector and legislation that could increase regulation of financial hedging.

"They tell us they understand natural gas in particular is a big part of the equation," Vincent said. "You're hearing the right things. What we're looking for is the action steps that back up the behavior. We really haven't seen that yet."

Vincent's comments echoed statements he made last week criticizing the administration's jobs policy. In a letter to the White House, Vincent argued that the administration's tax policy and plans for financial regulation reform threaten to cost independent producers $36 billion, and cut oil production 20% and gas production 12%.

"Derivatives play a critical role in ensuring that our member companies can minimize risk and exposure," the letter said. "Without these key financial tools in place and available to those who need them, less energy would be produced, and fewer high-wage jobs would be retained."

Vincent said access to offshore oil and gas fields, especially in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and off Southern California, should be made a priority and not be used as a bargaining chip in the debate over climate change.

Senators John Kerry and Lindsey Graham have said offshore drilling should be a part of any climate change bill. Their position is seen as a way to placate climate change critics.

But Vincent said, "I don't think you trade offshore access for climate change legislation."

IPAA represents more than 5,000 mostly small, independent oil and gas companies. The association says its members are responsible for 82% of U.S. gas production and 68% of domestic oil production.

Vincent is president and director of Houston-based independent Swift Energy.