Let’s talk about energy, as though you might need an additional boost to go along with the refueling aspect of the Rule Five Friday totty. The young lady pictured here has no connection to the story and to our knowledge is not connected with the energy industry in any way; her appearance here is purely gratuitous.
But who does have a connection to the energy industry in the U.S. today? Harold Hamm does, and Forbes has his story. Excerpt:
Two Scotches in, with seats on the floor of Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy CHK -2.7% Arena, Harold Hamm is feeling good. And why not? His hometown Thunder is spending the evening whupping the Philadelphia 76ers. Earlier Hamm announced big bonuses for Continental Resources CLR +0.04% employees, courtesy of record oil production. And a judge’s ruling, revealed that morning, in Hamm’s divorce case suggested the energy tycoon would keep the Continental shares he already owned when he married soon-to-be-ex Sue Ann Hamm 26 years ago. With that chunk of stock, encompassing about $16 billion out of his $16.9 billion fortune, Hamm owns 70% of Continental.
As every wildcatter knows, such is life in the oil patch when you’re on a hot streak. And Hamm’s on perhaps the most epic one in domestic energy history, perhaps save for John D. Rockefeller’s. No one, aside from kings, dictators and post-Soviet kleptocrats, personally owns more black gold–Continental has proved reserves of 1 billion barrels, mostly locked underneath North Dakota. Hamm took the company public in 2007–and shares are up 600% since, as the revolution in horizontal drilling has given America a cheap energy booster shot, fueling factories, keeping a lid on gas prices and adding millions of jobs.
Of course, there are many more barrels locked up under public lands, where our supposed employees in the Imperial City refuse to allow drilling. But that’s another story.
Hamm seems a character straight out of an Ayn Rand novel; driven, innovative, passionate about his line of work. He started in the industry at the age of 16, pumping gas in a service station; now he controls more oil than anyone outside of the Middle East. A pioneer of horizontal drilling, he now has realized a net worth of $16.9 billion- and he’s earned every penny of it.
Why is a man like this not held up as a national hero? A man to be admired and emulated? Because he had a single-minded drive to success? Because he succeeded on his own merits, realized the rewards of hard work and enormous risks?
The Forbes article concludes:
Hubris–almost inevitable when you own 70% of a company–is also a concern. America’s richest oil baron has been catching flak recently for what appears to be self-dealing, including a $340 million purchase by Continental of another North Dakota oil company he co-owned and a five-year, $100 million contract Continental signed with a pipeline firm owned by Hamm and his family. (Hamm says both deals passed muster with the board and will boost Continental’s performance.)
But such headaches will prove ephemeral if Hamm wins his bet and delivers on his promise of unlimited oil and gas. Such results would surely make Hamm one of the 20 richest people in the world. And just as surely reshape America in the process.
And he will probably be reviled for greed, instead of admired as a uniquely American success story. Why?
Who is John Galt?
Hamm’s work has the potential to completely reshape the American economy for the better. He has created thousands, maybe tens of thousands of jobs directly and indirectly. He has made energy in the form of everything from gasoline to heating oil more abundant and therefore cheaper. He’s a man worthy of admiration.