Windows on the World of Raymond Plank
Founder, Apache Corp

Vol. 2012 No. 6



Tony Lentini, whose career in public relations stems from working with George Mitchell, of Mitchell Energy who early foresaw the making of the energy revolution, then joined Apache, where he was also highly effective prior to “going out on his own.”  Presently he has an assignment from me personally to publicize my memoir, “A Small Difference,” and to tie together and help make sense of the gridlocked energy policy, which denigrates Americans and physically endangers humanity.

Tony has requested that I write in anticipation of some of the questions likely to be raised as those who follow the world’s largest industry seek to sort out some of that which, corn, beans from the chaff and esoteric Obama hogwash which entice some and turns off others.  The conflict plays out as an ugly medley of socio, political, and economic forces laced with gridlock. 

Here we go on the roller coasters, which one hopes and trusts will perform instead of shaking humanity into fragments of nuclear, radioactive dust.

Before turning to Energy Policy, a disclosure:  None of my personal assets are invested in the company I founded.  Its governance, board, and employees are at bat.  While I continue to know, respect, and admire many of them, I believe it better that as currently the largest independent I chose not to be conflicted, but retire as objective as possible, a challenge for me, and a wish for the company I cofounded in 1954 and was the senior executive from 1960 until 2008, forty-eight years.


Once a nuisance, today, natural gas technologies have opened up production of vast reserves in shale formations previously deemed non-productive of commercial hydrocarbons.  The Bakken formation in N.D. with both gas, condensate, and oil provides well paying jobs and lessens dependency on foreign sources which presently cost the U.S. $3 billion dollars per week, not including the reversal of American dependency subject to the “food stamp” related entitlement programs, which hold us hostage to potential blackmail pricing or the Far East deciding to call their loans to us approaching $2 trillion.

The technological advancement is similar to that I personally experienced in medical science.  Two examples follow:


In 1980, six years prior to moving Apache from Minneapolis to Denver, I experienced a mild heart attack.  Two laudable internists in “my home town” opined, “Medical science is moving so rapidly; we recommend medicinal treatment rather than bypass surgery.   We will follow your development of alternative circulation.”  Twenty-nine years later, no heart surgery. 


At Apache we initiated the practice for our employees of free, preventative, medical exams, while at the same time the Minneapolis Heart Institute recognized I had two aortic aneurisms, which again grew slowly.  In May 2012 my doctor and three radiologists noted a more rapid change, and called again for the use of modern technology and a surgical procedure far advanced in the intervening seven years.  At age ninety, four days after a procedure, which required several hours, I returned four hundred miles from the hospital and on my first day back on the lake, caught and released twenty-three of the twenty-five fish, including the largest Walleye of my life at eleven pounds. 


The parallel to energy is a lay down hand, which if pursued can sustain America and domestically reduce the risks of nuclear warfare and economic bankruptcy.

Today, the U.S. and the world, including the world’s largest industry, oil, gas, chemicals, finds us the Saudi Arabia of energy combined with our resource base.  Importantly there is a strong majority consensus that earth warming and hazardous substances such as carbon dioxide are unintended consequences of population growth and the prospect of rising living standards for 40% of the world’s population in India, China, Africa, and Brazil plus small people pods in Latin America and Mexico.

With major political challenges front and center, the U.S. fortunately has a number of knowledgeable and globally renowned scientists who do know and have answers to the environmental and ecological challenges confronting us.  We can look to them, and listen. 

Never since I have returned from combat flying in WWII did I nor could I think Americans would be swimming around in a gigantic tub of political shit.  This is the time to reel out the fire hose and flush out the area. 

Raymond Plank