Oil Industry Leaving Houston? It Could Happen, Some Analysts Say

A Houston without an oil industry? Why, that's like Dallas without assholes.

But it could happen, according to speakers at a panel here today. (The Houston part, not the Dallas part.)

The RMI Oilfield Breakfast Forum featured dire warnings that Obama's tax policies might encourage oil companies to locate in friendlier countries than the U.S., thus leaving Houston with a lot of empty skyscrapers.

PennEnergy reports that one speaker, Jim Wicklund, principal and energy portfolio manager of Carlson Capital LLC, Dallas (a-ha!) predicted some gloom:

During questions, Wicklund agreed with a fear expressed in a presentation by Larry Dickerson, president and chief executive officer of Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc., of a migration of operating and service companies away from the US.

Dickerson said drilling rigs generally are leaving the Gulf of Mexico because of hurricanes, aging infrastructure, and the availability of more-appealing contracts elsewhere.

"We're losing the base of operations that runs this industry," he said.

And tax proposals of the administration of President Barack Obama and others under consideration by Congress threaten to impose burdens that would push companies--or at least their headquarters--away from the US and possibly diminish Houston's role as a global center of industry technical innovation.

"Why drive that out of the country?" Dickerson asked. "I don't know."

Wicklund agreed that the industry is "poised to leave the US if it [the tax regime] gets too onerous."

Gee, oil-industry executives complaining about taxes. That's something we've never seen before.

On the other hand, we here at the Houston Press are only a block away from the very nice ExxonMobil cafeteria.

So Obama, stop this madness now!!

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