It may be a coincidence that benchmark US crude futures broke above $50/bl for the first time in 2016 on the same day that Donald Trump tied up enough delegates to clinch the Republican party’s nomination. But that did not stop Trump for taking credit for the distinctly positive turn of events as he spelled out an “America first” energy plan.
“We did hit 50 dollars today – I will take credit for that,” Trump said at a self-described major energy speech before the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismarck, North Dakota on 26 May. “I want 10 percent, Harold.”
The Harold that Trump was referring to was of course Harold Hamm, the chairman and chief executive of Continental Resources, who had given the former reality television star a glowing introduction moments earlier. “Fifty dollar oil is not bad – I like the sound of it,” said Hamm, who said he had advised Trump on energy matters. Hamm also mentioned that he had just returned from South Korea to seal a deal to export crude from the Bakken, where Continental is one of the biggest producers. Hess announced plans to export Bakken crude to Europe last month.
Trump’s speech before a friendly crowd spelled out an anti-regulation, free-market slate of ideas that should be a home run for the US energy industry. During his first 100 days in the Oval Office, Trump said he would invite TransCanada to refile its permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline, lift moratoriums on drilling on federal lands, and scrap US participation in the Paris climate accord. There are a few side-deals of course. TransCanada would have to fork over “a piece of the profits” in exchange for the go-ahead to build. “Let’s take a piece of the action for you folks,” he said.
Trump heaped scorn on President Barack Obama’s energy initiatives, such as the Clean Power plan (“shutting coal plants – how stupid is that?”), carbon limits on the energy industry (“job-killing cap-and-trade – a disaster”) and designating the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, or ANWR, as wilderness (“He’s taken it off the table”).
As for “crooked Hillary,” Trump’s preferred moniker for the presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, “She’ll unleash the EPA to control every aspect of our lives,” Trump said. Trump on the other hand said he would put American coal miners back to work and usher in a new era of US energy independence: “A complete American energy independence. Complete. Complete. And lots of jobs. Lots of jobs.”