ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Oil drilling companies and royalty owners from the Texas Panhandle to New Mexico’s stretch of the Permian Basin are embarking on a grass-roots campaign to limit foreign oil imports, salvaging what they say is a major sector of the U.S. economy.
“American oil is competing against a cartel of government operators which has a stated initiative of driving an American industry out of business,” said Tom Cambridge, one of the Panhandle producers leading the campaign.
The grass-roots movement is pushing for the next president of the United States to issue a proclamation setting quotas for imports — something that hasn’t been done in more than four decades.
“It’s not that this is the first time, but this is a more concerted, deliberate effort and I think it’s gaining ground,” said John Yates Jr., a member of a well-known family that is a leader in the industry and has over the last century developed some of New Mexico’s largest and most significant oil fields.
Under the plan unveiled by the Panhandle Producers and Royalty Owners Association and other supporters, import quotas could be imposed within the next administration’s first 90 days in office. Canadian and Mexican oil would be exempt.
Quotas on heavy crude oil would be phased in and imports would eventually be limited to around 10 percent of total demand.
Supporters say they’re drawing a line in the sand after more than a dozen oil-rich nations failed to agree during a recent meeting in Saudi Arabia to freeze production. They blame Middle East producers for flooding the market and fueling the price war as a means to stifle domestic production.