The new head of Bakersfield-based oil producer Aera Energy LLC on Thursday condemned growing calls to end California petroleum production, charging in an exclusive interview that the industry’s opponents are ignoring science and confusing people into supporting a “dangerous idea” that would cost jobs, tax revenue and energy independence without making needed progress against climate change.
Erik Bartsch, who last year left a job in the Netherlands with Shell Oil Co. to become president and CEO of a company with 1,100 employees in Kern, said renewed efforts in Sacramento to ban fracking and certain other important oilfield techniques would effectively shut down in-state oil production.
“Make no mistake,” he said. “This is a challenge and opposition that’s not based on science or facts. This is based on politics and a misguided notion that puts hard-working Californians out of work and threatens our energy supplies.”
Bartsch’s comments put the timely and locally critical oil debate in some of the starkest terms yet heard from the oil industry at a time when activist organizations are ramping up pressure to constrain or eliminate in-state oil production.