Utah's petroleum industry has plenty to grumble and worry about.
With crude prices depressed, severance taxes threatening to rise and environmental concerns fighting development, the future of drilling and producing in Utah looks dismal.But David R. Hoyer, vice president of Chevron Corp. and senior vice president of manufacturing, supply and marketing of Chevron U.S.A. Inc., has taken on the popular philosophy of "don't worry, be happy."
"I challenge you to find an industry that has survived what we have and still stay in business," Hoyer told the 29th annual meeting of the Utah Petroleum Association.
He said the country's petroleum industry has made it through thick and thin in the past 50 years and will survive this latest trough of the cycle.
"We are still hurting, but we are not on the brink of extinction," Hoyer said. "We should be proud when looking toward the future when you consider the successes we've had.
"I'm optimistic we can come through this difficult period."
The industry can do little to influence the price of world crude oil, and Hoyer predicts the subsequent price of gasoline will not fluctuate far from $1 per gallon until the next century. He said gasoline at $1 per gallon is a bargain when one considers the 1960 price in 1988 dollars computes to $1.25 per gallon.
But while the low crude prices have helped the marketing side of the business, Hoyer said, exploration and production have come to nearly a standstill as the country becomes more and more dependent on cheap foreign oil.
"If we allow ourselves to get too dependent on imports, it might also mean supply shortages and a sharp rise in prices rather than a smooth and orderly evolution of the market.
"Here in the U.S. we produce only a little more than half of the oil we consume. We need every domestic barrel that we can find," Hoyer said, noting aggregate domestic reserves of crude oil and synthetics are estimated at 8.5 trillion barrels.
The drastic drop in domestic exploration and production can be stemmed if industrial and environmental camps find a way to "accommodate both the need for economic growth and the public's desire for a safe, healthy environment."
Hoyer said Chevron has done some soul searching to find a win-win approach to the environment. He advocated moving from a confrontational approach to cooperating with environmentalists to solve the technical and political roadblocks oil producers face in developing domestic resources.
But those environmental problems and their solutions must be based on facts and not fears, Hoyer said. To bring that about, he said the public must be more involved and the industry is "going to have to step up our effort to communicate those facts in a way that is clear and credible."
Hoyer praised Utah for environmental and industrial forces coming to a balance in striving for "multiple use" of lands. However, Hoyer and UPA president Gary Fisher expressed concern over mounting pressure to make more of Utah designated wilderness prohibiting oil exploration. Both men expressed concern about a push by Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, to increase the state's allotment of designated wilderness by another 5 million acres.
Hoyer said Chevron is still committed to Utah. He described the Utah holdings in exploration, production, refining, marketing, coal, minerals and geothermal energy as a small-scale model of the corporation's worldwide operation.