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Thirty-one years ago working as a tax attorney, Mike McDonald saw an opportunity. He worked every day with entrepreneurs who where taking a gamble and winding up making a pretty good living for themselves.
Now three decades into a career as an independent oil producer, McDonald is making sure producers still have those same opportunities, working as the new president of the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance.
“No one in all my years of industry advocacy work has worked harder and smarter than Mike,” says DEPA Director of Governmental Affairs Mike Cantrell.
McDonald started small in Enid, drilling his first well, and expanding his Triad Energy Company from there.
“It’s been very rewarding,” says McDonald. “It’s sort of similar to what’s going on now, there’s a lot of activity.”
DEPA is a coalition of numerous state associations, including the National Stripper Well Association and the National Association of Royalty Owners.
McDonald took over as president in the second quarter, and cedes that his industry has to do a better job of educating the public on how vital a role oil and gas production plays in our country.
He did his undergraduate and law school work at the University of Mississippi. A master’s in tax law from New York University soon followed before wading into the oil and gas industry.
Most recently, McDonald served as the chairman of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association.
“In that role, his leadership was unparalled,” Cantrell says. “He took a hands-on leadership approach that is best chronicled by the fact that every time we got to the end of a legislative session, the board simply gave him the authority to negotiate issues on our behalf without any special meetings. As independent producers who rarely cede our input to anyone, we all know how extraordinary that was.”
McDonald’s rare blend of legal experience and his independent producer background should help as the industry tries to fend off increasing government control.
“We’ve got a lot of attacks from the EPA, and they’re making all kinds of regulations,” McDonald says.
He says the administration’s recent blockage of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline was a big blow to the industry.
“We’ve got to get access to the Gulf Coast,” McDonald says. “Over 50% of the refining capacity in the United States is on the Gulf Coast, so we need as many pipelines as we can get taking oil down there because of all the increases in oil production in the lower 48 states in the last four or five years. We’ve been very successful in increasing production for the country, but we don’t have the infrastructure to get the product where it needs to be.”
That’s why independent producers are looking ahead to November’s elections.
“President Obama is all about clean energy and talks about the oil and gas industry as the energy of the past, and he’s trying to do the energy of the future,” McDonald says. “You’ve seen how successful he’s been in that.”