Indiana State University Newsroom

Oil industry veteran endorses conservation, alternative energy

February 25, 2006

Indiana State grad says appetite for oil sets U.S. up for future price shocks

A Terre Haute native who has explored for oil around the world told audiences at Indiana State University Friday Americans should conserve fuel and switch to alternate energy sources.

Noting the United States consumes 25 percent of the world's oil but represents only 5 percent of the world's population; Mike Blackwell said that appetite is setting the country up for price and supply shocks that will eclipse anything that happened in the wake of last year's hurricanes.

"It's going to hit the wall, and when it does hit the wall it's going to hurt America more than any other country. We're the only country with two cars in almost every driveway," Blackwell said, noting fuel economy in the U.S. has shown little improvement since the late 1970s. He spoke Friday to geology students at Indiana State and to reporters.

While leaving it to others to predict just how high prices will go, Blackwell predicts another price and supply jolt within the next 24 months. While the oil industry continues to explore for oil wherever it is economically feasible, governments are not addressing the problem, he said.

"Our political leaders, worldwide and domestic, are going abut business just like nothing is changing, but all the numbers are right in front of us," Blackwell said.

Those numbers, he stressed, do not indicate the world is running out of oil and gas, but show that industry's ability to produce oil and gas is no longer keeping pace with consumption.

Blackwell has been responsible for the discovery of dozens of new oil and gas fields over the past 34 years. He supports drilling for oil in such places as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and offshore Florida, but stressed those areas will not provide enough oil to offer a long term solution.

Americans must conserve fuel in the short term and "utilize every alternative source that's out there," including nuclear, hydro-electric, and solar energy, in order to meet the nation's long term needs, Blackwell said.

President of MOCO Inc., a Jackson, Miss.-based oil exploration and development company, Blackwell is a 1971 graduate of Indiana State with a bachelor's degree in geology. He holds a master's degree from Texas A&M University.

Working for Texaco and the Hunt family of Texas before co-founding MOCO in 1982, Blackwell has been involved in seismic and geologic explorations in most of the major oil producing regions of the United States as well as the North Sea off England and Norway, the Beaufort Sea area of Canada, Mozambique, Turkey and offshore New Zealand.

Blackwell has served as a guest lecturer at Mississippi State University, taught a graduate level introduction to geophysics course at the University of Southern Mississippi and was a guest speaker at the 25th anniversary of Texas A&M's geophysics department.

MOCO currently owns an interest in about 100 oil and gas wells, primarily in the Gulf Coast area.