Fighting back against proposed laws, changing the industry's image and global warming discussed at West Kern Petroleum Summit
From protecting California's oil industry from death by a thousand cuts to changing the industry's image, how fracking technology's affect on the global balance of power facing the reality of climate change.
Nearly everything going on in the petroleum industry was up for discussion at the West Kern Petroleum Summit.
More than 300 people arraign from industry leaders to high school students packed the Aera gymnasium at the West Side Recreation and Park District's Community Center to hear from people in the last week.
They heard what they expected from a panel of local elected officials, and later heard something they didn't expect - an oil industry leader saying yes, an-made carbon is contributing to global warming.
Two major local oil companies were spotlighted
Berry Petroleum leader Trem Smith was the first speaker at the event and updated the "new" Berry Petroleum and its role in the California Oil Fields.
Berry started from scratch, Smith said, with a new board of directors that includes former Aera Energy LLC CEO Gene Voiland.
The "old" Berry sold its local assets to Linn Energy, but then came back after Linn filed for bankruptcy.
Smith turned right around and moderated a panel discussion with State Sen, Shannon Grove.
Assemblyman Vince Fong, Kern County Supervisor Zack Scrivner and Board of Equalization member Ted Gaines.
Smith started the discussion by noting the industry is facing 10 to 15 bills in the state legislature that, if passed, will "have a negative impact on the energy industry."
"How do we stop this death by a thousand cuts," Smith asked.
Fong said it's a monumental challenge, and representatives in oil-producing districts are a small minority, so they have work to do.
"I think we need to build a coalition. We have to build a bigger coalition than ever," he said. "We have to figure out how we can get new voices to join us."
Scrivner said the Board of Supervisors have taken positions to protect the industry, and he's gone to Sacramento himself to testify to support oil and gas.
Grove said it's going to be an uphill struggle to educate others about the importance of the industry.
"It's frustrating to see that they don't recognize the amazing opportunities that we have in the oil industry."
Shawn Kerns, California Resource Corporation's executive advice president of operations and engineering, updated the conference on his company and the California oil scene.
The keynote speaker, John Hofmeister, ended the conference with a surprise.
But first he led up to it with an overview of the current status, pointing out America's rise to a more powerful position through not only tremendous shale reserves but a more diverse economy.
OPEC's leading nations have nothing to sell but oil and are at the mercy of the world markets.
The U.S. industry is facing some headwinds caused by a lack of investment in new reserves - few new wells are being drilled.
But he ended with a discussion of global warming and the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that is causing it.
Man-made carbon is a factor, he said, and the industry needs to cut its waste and CO2 production.
"The industry has to be a net negative when it comes to waste," he said.
In fact, he said, major oil companies are already forming a consortium to work on the issue.
Exxon Mobile and Chevron have joined Royal Dutch sell and others.
It's an industrial process that can trap CO2, turn it into pellets and bury it, Hofmeister said.