Harold Hamm says Trump should start slashing oil and gas regulations here

Next energy secretary?
Next energy secretary?

Trump campaign advisor and oilman Harold Hamm said Wednesday the U.S. government has done everything in its power to impede oil and gas production.

President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to boost the nation's oil, natural gas and coal production by rolling back regulations and increasing drilling on federal lands.

"There's so many of these overreaching regulations that's gone on. My goodness. We called it death by a thousand cuts, and that's exactly what it was intended to do," Hamm told CNBC's "Power Lunch."

But while oil producers were supposedly being bled dry, U.S. wells were gushing.

President Barack Obama's two terms have dovetailed with a revolution in U.S. drilling technology that has pushed the country's production from about 5.3 million barrels a day in his first year in office to 9.4 million barrels a day in 2015.

Hamm's Continental Resources is one of the American independent drillers that proved oil could be squeezed from shale rock. But the subsequent surge in U.S. output from shale resources contributed to a global glut of crude that tanked oil prices two years ago.

Currently, most new U.S. drilling is occurring in parts of Texas and New Mexico, where the cost of producing a barrel of oil is low enough to turn a profit.

Onshore federal and Indian lands

Still, Hamm said the government's reluctance to lease federal land for drilling is holding back exploration and production firms like Continental.

"Permitting is almost nonexistent out there. It takes years sometimes to get permits," he said.

The Bureau of Land Management issued 852 leases for oil and gas drilling on a total of 810,000 acres last year. That's down from a five-year high of 2,188 leases issued in 2011 for more than 2 million acres of federal land.

To be sure, the oil and gas industry began slashing capital spending in 2015 as low crude prices left many drillers operating in the red.

Drilling on federal lands is statutorily prohibited in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, and the Obama administration also blocks leasing in some other areas, including sections of the Outer Continental Shelf.