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Cache needed for oil and gas knowledge

Posted: October 12, 2012 - 4:23pm

Recently, state geologist Bob Swenson shared some insight into a state report on remaining hydrocarbon resources across the state and in Cook Inlet with the Clarion.

One of Swenson’s sentiments got us thinking. The report was labeled as a book of possibilities, not answers. Moreover, Swenson said the report didn’t mean much unless it got into the hands of decision makers to help facilitate local discussion of resource development.

That’s a good idea, but who is making sure this kind of detailed information generated for public consumption is making it into the hands of industry folks, easily accessible to all residents and isn’t forgotten about as soon as it’s produced?

When an author writes a book, more often than not local libraries purchase a copy, catalogue it and shelve it away for someone who wants to learn or read later on. Where exactly is all the information that has been generated about the resources in Cook Inlet and on the Kenai Peninsula?

Likely it is scattered about state offices, contained in buried links on state websites, or otherwise remains covered in dust on a dimly lighted bookshelf.

There’s always much political chest beating about helping small business, being smart with development and eliminating job-killing bureaucracy — here’s a way to connect resources and industry without getting in the way.

Our vision is a local oil and gas resource center and library, of sorts. Much like how the Donald E. Gilman River Center makes life easier for those seeking permits near the Kenai River, we’d like to make life easier for those looking for oil and gas information.

This knowledge cache would contain as much data from studies, maps, seismic work, production levels, business resources, tax rolls and local knowledge as possible.

Here’s what we see: A small office or building with a staffer or two organizing and filing reports generated by the state, legislature or industry, who records and preserves industry presentations at chamber of commerce lunches, who works with our local job center on connecting skilled workers with jobs and who answers the phone when someone calls seeking information that could help their business.

Imagine you are the head of a developing small business that makes a certain sprocket and you’d like to know which oil platforms in Cook Inlet are set up to use your sprocket. That information could be stored in our oil and gas library.

Say you’re an oil service company hired by one of our local producers and you need to hire seven local pipe welders for a job tomorrow. Well they’d have names and numbers for you.

Perhaps you’re a simple roustabout and you’ve got your eye on the CEO’s chair. What you need to know about how the industry ticks could be at your fingertips.

Maybe you are a state legislator from the area who needs a quick answer in Juneau to help with energy-related legislation that could benefit the area. Someone would be by the phone.

Our idea could be funded by public money because extra business brought to the area could more than pay for its salary and budget through the extra tax dollars generated. But, we’d also like to see some industry buy-in as well. Maybe there could also be some resource sharing amongst our local economic development district, chambers of commerce, local libraries and community college. Perhaps there are a few retired oil field folks who’d like to volunteer their time to help.

In short: Knowledge is power. So instead of letting all of this oil and gas data fizzle into the clouds, let’s find a way to preserve it, organize it and distribute it so it’s available to anyone and everyone.

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