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Dinner highlights importance of oil and gas to region, education

April 20, 2017 • Local News

Former New Mexico Gov. Garrey Carruthers speaks at the New Mexico State Lands conference Thursday night at the Roswell Convention & Civic Center, which was attended by about 600 people. (Jeff Tucker Photo)

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Above: Allen Gilmer, chairman of CEO of Drillinginfo, gave the keynote speech at the New Mexico State Lands conference Thursday night in Roswell. Gilmer spoke about current and future oil and gas reserves in New Mexico, and their relationship to education in the state. Congressman Steve Pearce also spoke at the conference held every four years. Pearce spoke of recent world events in Syria and elsewhere. (Jeff Tucker Photo)

Below: Eddie David of David Petroleum Corp. of Roswell says he was fortunate to have people around who helped him achieve his dreams. David, the founder of the oil and gas dinner in Roswell that raises awareness about the energy and provides funding for scholarships, was honored at the Thursday dinner at the Roswell Convention and Civic Center. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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The United States has underground oil supplies worth more than the economy of India and the untapped resources are so abundant [auth] they will never be fully utilized, according to an industry expert speaking at a dinner showcasing the importance of oil and gas to the economy and education.

“I don’t see why you would keep an economy like that under the ground,” said Allen Gilmer. “Does that make sense to you?”

Gilmer, chief executive officer of DrillingInfo, a data collection and analysis company for the energy industry, was one of the keynote speakers at the “Energizing New Mexico” dinner Thursday night at the Roswell Convention and Civic Center.

This is the third year the event has been held since 2008 and drew a record crowd of 600 people, according to organizers. The event’s founder, Eddie David of David Petroleum Corp. of Roswell, was the special honoree of the night.

Organizers said that the main purpose of the event is to educate primarily students but also government officials and the public to the importance of the industry to the economy and education.

Oil, gas and minerals contribute about 92.3 percent of the funds to the New Mexico Permanent Land Trust. That trust, in turn, provided $656 million in fiscal year 2016 to its 89 beneficiaries, which include public K12 schools, specialty schools and public universities and colleges. New Mexico Military Institute receives about 70 percent of its current operating funds from the trust disbursement.

The event also raised more than $200,000 from sponsors, including DrillingInfo, and was expected to provide at least $150,000 of that to scholarship funds run by four organizations: the Roswell Geological Society, the New Mexico Landmen’s Association, the Desk and Derrick Club of Roswell and the National Energy Education Development. The first three organizations give scholarships to students, preferably to those studying in the oil and gas fields. The fourth provides money for teacher training in energy science.

The oil and gas industry has faced increased public scrutiny and government regulation in past years as concerns about the environmental effects of fossil fuel development and consumption have grown. Environmental groups and other activists have been able to postpone or block the sales of oil and gas leases on public lands in New Mexico, for example. Environmental groups have said that  oil and gas activities account for 10 percent of U.S. climate pollution, and the WildEarth Guardians said that the oil and gas activity related to a recent $145 million BLM lease sale in New Mexico would cost $170 million in environmental and public health costs.

Gilmer said the industry had a public relations problem because people are misinformed about the industry.

“I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that, ‘Well, it is an old industry and it is dirty,'” Gilmer said.

He also said that fracking has been particularly mischaracterized, jokingly adding that it might be due to the sound of the word.

“The Sierra Club has made more money out of that word than it has in all its previous years,” he said.

Gilmer contended, in contrast to the negative view, that the industry meets the business model put forth by the United Nations, providing not only economic opportunity but also sustainability, social security and eco-efficiency.

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