Thank you for that generous introduction, and good afternoon, everyone. It's a pleasure to be here -- among friends -- and a privilege to appear before such a distinguished audience.
It's been quite a day. We've heard some very thoughtful -- and thought provoking -- words here this afternoon; and I know we're all looking forward to sitting down and discussing them over a little refreshment later. So, with that in mind, I'll try to keep my remarks reasonably short.
I have been asked to talk to you today about Our Industry -- Its Capabilities and Its Constraints. But before I get in to my assigned topic, I'd like to say a few words about another subject that also begins with the letter "c" -- and that is credibility. It's a problem our industry is having to contend with more and more each day.
I know you've often stopped and wondered -- just as I have -- how in the world did a bunch of Good Guys like us ever become so unpopular -- or so misunderstood. It's hard to imagine that some people just don't believe we have their best interests at heart. They don't seem to trust what we have to say. I hate o admit this, but possibly some of the mistrust is of our own doing. While some of us were predicting an energy crunch some l0'and even 20 years ago, we ended up selling our oil -- and especially our price-controlled natural gas -- at ridiculously low prices. And not only that -- because of the competitive nature of our business -- we also gave away dishes, balloons and hula-hoops, to boot!
No wonder some people have trouble believing that the country really faces a serious energy problem -- but it does. It's a matter of simple arithmetic.
Right now, the United States relies on oil and natural gas for three-fourths of its energy. But our nation's economy requires more petroleum than America is producing from its own domestic fields. And we're using up our oil and gas reserves faster than we are finding replacement for them.
This, in turn, is causing a rapid increase in our dependence on foreign oil. Last year, for instance, the U. S. imported almost half of its crude oil and refined products -- at a cost of more than $45 billion. Even with Alaska's North Slope oil now moving to market, our imports are not likely to decline this year -- and neither is the cost.
Some time in the future -- as we all know -- alternate energy resources will be developed; but this will take a long time and cost a lot of money. Alternate resources are not likely to provide more than a token contribution to our country's energy supply for 20 to 25 years -- at the very least.
To bridge this gap, we are going to need more oil and natural gas. Even with vigorous conservation and increased coal and nuclear power development, our nation most likely will be relying on oil and gas for about 60 percent of its energy in 1985.