A compelling personal story and a push for energy independence

Harold Hamm’s compelling personal story attracts attention, and the CEO of Continental Resources isn’t shy about sharing it.

The youngest of 13 children raised in a sharecroppers’ cabin in Oklahoma, Hamm began driving a tank truck in the oil fields after graduating from high school and had drilled his first well by the age of 25.

His company, based in Oklahoma City, is now the largest producer and leaseholder in the Bakken shale, with 1.1 million acres and 24 rigs in North Dakota and Montana.

The 67-year-old Hamm says he is still in the hunt for oil, but he also is involved in a broader agenda, pushing the cause of U.S. energy independence and what he describes as the psychological boost that would provide.

Hamm spoke Thursday at the American Association of Petroleum Geologists’ Playmaker Forum, a day-long conference devoted to finding oil, pitching prospects to investors and updates on North American shale plays.

He is chairman of the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance, formed to support independent producers, royalty owners and oil service companies and to promote energy independence. He also served as an energy advisor to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

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He suggested that was time well spent.

“Yeah, Romney wasn’t elected, but some of the things he brought up, the other side had to jump in and take credit for,” he said.

Hamm co-founded the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance in early 2009 to promote the U.S. onshore oil industry and the potential for energy independence.

Back then, Hamm said, most people, including policymakers, expected the country to remain heavily dependent on exports.

But by late 2012, the International Energy Agency and a host of other forecasters were predicting the United States would become the world’s largest producer of oil, at least briefly, by 2020, with energy independence more likely.

“Now my bandwagon’s pretty full,” Hamm said.