Archive Monthly Archives: May 2011

SherWare Clients educate on the importance of the oil & gas industry – part 2

Last week I posted the first part of this post, which shared the first half of responses from our clients on what they’re doing in the communities or what they’d like to do in the future to help educate the public on the value of our industry.

Here’s part two for: What, if anything, have you done personally or want to do in the future to educate the public about the importance of the oil and gas industry?

– “I just talk to people I know. I wish all photos of wells being drilled would be accompanied by a picture of the well after drilling is complete and the area has been restored so that people could see what a producing well looks like once the short term construction is finished. It’s very misleading not to show this.” – Holly

– “I want to buy a natural gas powered Honda Civic, however, West Virginia does not offer any tax incentives. So, I haven’t done anything yet.” – Rocco

– “I have not personally done anything. If I could, I would want to be part of a process that opens the doors to drilling, but also be part of a process that demands safety mechanisms so that disasters do not occur.” – Kimberly

– “We try to inform the public about regulations that are in force to prevent disasters like the BP spill and how our industry has standards and with the use of proper equipment and safety, we produce efficiently and safely. We also try to tell them there is a limited amount of oil left to produce and the government should seriously look into converting transportation to natural gas, as there is an abundant supply here in the U.S., and thus would decrease our dependency on foreign oil.” – Patricia

– “I am a supporter of our local oil and gas groups such as the Marginal Oil Commission, API Chapter, etc.” – L.C.

– “I was a member of The Energy Advocates, and we did our best to educate. Only a revision in the curriculum of schools where energy education can be delivered without communist or socialist twiddling will work long term. Otherwise, it’s left to the industry organizations.” – Michael

– “I meet with federal and state legislators to make sure they understand that while the day we won’t need fossil fuels is coming, that day is not here yet and you don’t “throw the baby out with the bathwater” in trying to get to the next generation of energy, contrary to what Obama says.” – Don

– “The oilfield is a huge employer in the region in which we live, and I try to emphasize what an economic impact it was on so many families while the men and women are able to work and bring home “hefty” paychecks.” – Jenifer

– “As an individual, I don’t do much. As a company, we are constantly upgrading out in the field technologically as well as environmentally. In the communities around our operations, which are small towns, word of mouth, advertising in the small town papers, being involved with various schools with scholarship funding and contributions to their agricultural and sports programs has projected a positive image towards our industry locally.” – Brenda

– “I talk to my neighbors and friends and listen to their complaints.” – Michelle

– “I write letters and talk to people. I have been active with the AIPG in the legislature.” – Pete

– “I would like to have a site that educated the public on the business of oil & gas.” – Lynne

Do you have anything to add that you do or would like to do?

SherWare Clients educate on the importance of the oil & gas industry

Next week I’ll be talking with executive director Rhonda Reda from Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program to see what her organization does, what affect it has on those involved and how others can get involved. In the meantime, I’d like to share the last of the tidbits my fabulous clients shared with me on what they’ve been doing or would like to do in the future to educate those around them on the importance of our industry. With so many responses, I’ve broken it up into two posts to help you read quicker!

What, if anything, have you done personally or want to do in the future to educate the public about the importance of the oil and gas industry?

– “Our engineer participates in the Young Engineer and Scientist Yes Day at Washington State Community College for seventh and eighth graders, and we donate to Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP).” –Vicky

– “Whenever the opportunity presents itself, we communicate the net positive impact that domestic oil and gas production has on the local and regional economy, as well as contributing to national security, as a result of being less dependent on foreign sources of energy.” – Ed

– “I would love to bring the environmental people from back east out here to Wyoming to show them the land and what it is truly like, and that we are not hurting the land, and are actually making it better when we are done.”- Juli

– “When people find out that I work in the industry, they are interested in asking questions and are amazed to hear that fracing has been going on for many years. They thought it was something brand new.” – Tina

– “I discuss with all my friends not in the industry how we can do our job safely and environmentally friendly and help the nation at the same time.” – Mark

– “We haven’t had the opportunity to do more than just educate the people around us. Knowledge is powerful, but a little knowledge can be dangerous. We need to inform them of the benefits of what we do, not just what the news channels report. By giving someone the full picture, hopefully they will understand more of the benefits of keeping oil and gas around, versus the bits and pieces of information they have now.” – Jason

– “We support CARE, which educated the public one person at a time. Our industry can be more effective in mass media efforts, but it is still important for each of us to keep our friends and neighbors educated about the real oil and gas.” – Rickisue

– “I have a “Save Our Strippers” sticker on my flight bag. You have NO IDEA how many conversations that strikes up in the airport security line 3 days a week. A lot of people think there are just huge wells, that could do what the BP spill did, but on land. They don’t realize there are hundreds of thousands of small wells and that all adds up to a lot of oil. At the gas pumps I tell people not to keep topping off their tank and explain to them that it puts gas into the carbon canister and then may not get combusted completely and that could be a bad environmental impact. Also, my passengers are always amazed at how much fuel our gets burn (about 5,000 lbs an hour), how cheap the price of a ticket really is and how without that how long it would take them to drive across the country. People don’t realize how important oil is to our country and way of life.” – Justin

– “I help them to see what the true issues are, that it is not the companies that make up the industry, but the government policies that are largely responsible for today’s issues.” – Guthrie

Do you have anything to add that you do or would like to do?

Rising gas prices here to stay

For the first time in nearly three years, gas prices at the pump haven’t risen significantly year-to-year. If you remember my post from this time last year, I wrote how prices had crept up to nearly $4 per gallon nationwide.

From 2009 to 2011 prices rose by an average of 65 cents per year, according to GasBuddy.com, and only varied by 5 cents between 2011 and today. While my wallet may still be protesting the cost of gas, I am somewhat mollified that it could be much worse today, if the past three years are any indication. Perhaps, I’m resigning myself to the idea that gas is just going to be higher and that’s that.

I read an article recently on Louisiana’s Oil & Gas Association’s blog about cheap gas being a thing of the past, and it was reinforced when I was browsing the Internet today and came across the Debate Club, a site where great minds in our society today debate relevant topics and readers vote for the most compelling argument.

On the topic Is Obama to blame for high gas prices, most readers sided with Daniel Simmons, Director of State Affairs at the Institute for Energy Research that yes, the administration has done little to reduce oil prices.

I, however, found that Severin Borenstein’s, E.T. Grether Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy at U.C. Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, argument that we must prepare the world for higher gas prices resonated much deeper.

He argued that the while it is easy for the public and politicians to blame the President for rising gas prices – in reality, there is little that a President can do to change the prices.

Even if the United States was to increase domestic production (which I do believe we should do, but not necessarily because it will lower the price at the pump), it would only put a dent in the supply and demand chain – leaving prices at around the same that they are.

Borenstein contends that growing demand in China and India, as well as the fact that the actual physical supplier of most of our oil, Saudi Arabia, holds more spare capacity than America could if all federal lands were open to be drilled in the next decade, are to be held responsible for rising prices – and both are factors that won’t be easily changed.

Gasoline is what fuels America – literally and figuratively. According to the Federal Highway Administration’s website, Americans drive on average, 16,550 miles per year which is equivalent to four roundtrips from New York City to Los Angeles.

Our fuel consumption isn’t going to slow down overnight and unless America’s economy begins to plummet again like it did in 2009 when gas prices were so much cheaper, we aren’t going to see much lower prices at the pump.

I love the way the LOGA post ended, and end on the same note: “Cheap gas, or a job and a roof over your head? That’s pretty much what it comes down to.”

What is your perspective on rising gas prices? Can Obama influence prices or should we settle in for higher gas prices?

Educating public vital to saving oil and gas industry

Earlier in the week I gave 10 ideas for how the oil and gas industry can attempt to boost its meager image with the American public. Today, I’d like to share why some of the country’s oil and gas producers think this is an important task and what factors they are up against.

Today Americans are bombarded with negative media projections on just about anything, because really, how much news do you really read a day that isn’t bad in some way? The 10 factors our clients gave for what’s currently affecting the public’s opinion of the oil and gas industry in order of how often they were suggested are:

10. The government’s drilling moratorium in the gulf coast

9. The documentary Gasland – See my posts from earlier in the year on this grossly inaccurate film.

8. Water contamination

7. Middle East unrest

6. President Obama’s vocal dislike of fossil fuels

5. Environmentalist crusades

4. Hydraulic Fracturing in the media

3. Negative media on the industry

2. The BP oil spill last April

1. High gasoline prices

 

With negative factors coming from such a variety of sources, it’s not hard to see why the industry has such a bad rap nationally. The usual reaction the industry has taken when a disaster occurs is to try to quietly clean it up while letting the big guys do all the talking. With no headway being made in public imagery, I believe many operators and producers are starting to realize it’s going to take more unified front from all operators and producers to start educating the public on why this industry really is vital to America’s economy and future. It’s easy to demonize something when you don’t understand or know about all the facts.

The most important reason that educating the public is so important is because it’s how we keep the industry alive. With too few refineries in the country, increased regulation and drilling setbacks and a growing unease with the industry as a whole, it won’t take long for those in the government and with an agenda against our industry to slowly kill it.

Education is important because clearly, right now, those who oppose fossil fuels are only communicating the negative aspects of oil and gas production and that’s the main argument that the public hears.

“[Educating the public is important] because the press generally influences perception negatively, as do a few “vocal locals” who have had bad experiences with the industry. It’s VERY hard to overcome bad press.” – Louise

It’s also important because I don’t think the public really understands that the oil and gas industry is not just fueled by oil giants like Shell, BP and Exxon, and that there is more to the industry than the fuel that goes into your car at the pump. The public isn’t aware that the majority of companies are small family-owned producers across the country.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s easy to write someone or thing off when you don’t know all the facts and you can go off what you’ve heard or what you think is right. By educating the public on the value in what the industry does, it makes it less easier to swallow the “oil companies are just raking in millions of dollars in profits while the rest of the country suffers” mantra we’re being fed.

“It is so important to help people understand the process so that they don’t feel unwarranted fear about it. The media loves to write stories that stir up controversy. The potential benefits of shale gas are so positive for our nation and we need to make sure people understand that instead of wasting the opportunity.” – Holly

“[Education is important] so they can grasp that the industry is not to blame for the energy issues in our country, but government interference on the free market process.” – Guthrie

And lastly, along the same vein as sharing the value in what our industry offers, education is important because it shows how the majority of operators and producers work and how drilling and completing a well really look like.

“[Education is important because we need] to let the public know the oil and gas industry is responsive to accidents and incidents; that they care about the public and the environment and want to get energy to the public as cheaply and responsibly as possible.” – Rickisue

What about you? Why else is educating the public on the value of our industry important?

10 ways to educate the public on the oil and gas industry

As gas prices soar at the pump, it will come as no surprise that the hostile environment towards the oil and gas industry in America is only going to grow in the summer months as the prices continue to rise.

From a President with no grasp of the importance fossil fuels and domestic production have to the country, and activists from New York to Wyoming undermining the industry’s job of finding more oil and gas rich places, the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) attitude isn’t disappearing anytime soon.

This mood across the country paints a picture of a frustrated and ill-educated public making uniformed judgments against the industry. That’s is why it’s imperative for the oil and gas industry to purposefully educate the public with the truths about the industry instead of letting the media and those with an alternative agenda do the talking for them.

In speaking with our clients the past few weeks, they’ve helped me identify how our industry should better educate the public, why it’s important and what factors are currently getting in the way. Today I’m going to look at their top 10 ideas for how to educate the public.

1. Begin by having the industry (and this is large and small producers alike, not just the big boys who are trying to do all the talking already) positively explain how crucial the economic impact is of the industry.

2. Similarly, to begin doing this, operators and producers (again of all sizes) need to make sure they are running their business in a positive way first.

“First we can’t educate them positively if we have nothing positive going on. So first we have to make sure we are all running our business in positive ways. Environmentally sound ways, so that we are compliant, but also so that we have something to brag about.” – Kimberly

3. Let the public know that operators and producers DO drill and maintain wells with the least possible damage to surroundings that they can. A few bad producers who aren’t compliant shouldn’t tarnish the whole industry’s reputation.

4. Continue with TV, print and radio ads projecting the importance of the industry and how its helped local communities. Operators and producers should also speak at local events, give interviews and answer local question and answer seminars.

5. Business owners should make sure each person on their staff is positively educated about the industry and what all they do for the community so education can spread through word of mouth.

“First, we should educate our staff positively about what we do as an industry. The best advertisement is most normally through word of mouth and when your employees feel good about what they do, it is passed on to the public.” – Jenifer

6. Educate the public on energy facts such as where oil and gas come from, how much we consume, what that looks like for our economy, etc.

“We must make people aware of the energy facts: the sources and uses of gas and oil. How many know the percentage of electricity produced with natural gas at one-half the carbon emissions of coal for example.” – David

7. Start educating young and start in schools with programs such as OOGEEP in Ohio, and also support education for those in and beginning in the industry too like Desk & Derrick.

8. Support state organizations that promote the industry such as your state’s Oil & Gas Association and meetings.

9. Share positive stories with those you know on people who work in the oil and gas field. Not enough “good news” is shared today about the industry, and certainly a lot exists.

10. One unique idea that sparked my interest was reinforcement for T. Boone Pickens’ plan for converting 18-wheelers and those vehicles that run on “dirty diesel” to natural gas, and stick an advertisement on it letting the public know the vehicle runs on natural gas and at what cost.

Next post see why educating the public is important to our operators and producers and what factors are getting in the way.

EPA under fire after Regional Administrator’s comments cause public to question agency’s impartiality

Senator Inhofe’s House address last week regarding an EPA Regional Administrator’s comments to “crucify” the oil and gas industry to make an example shook the industry over the weekend.

In a 2010 town hall meeting in Dish, Texas, Region VI Administrator Al Armendariz gave a crude analogy regarding “crucifixion” to explain of how the agency intends to handle the oil and gas industry. While the video documenting the speech was up on Friday, it since has been removed in many places online – but with a little digging you may be able to find it.

Here are parts of Armendariz’ quote:

“But as I said, oil and gas is an enforcement priority, it’s one of seven, so we are going to spend a fair amount of time looking at oil and gas production. And I gave, I was in a meeting once and I gave an analogy to my staff about my philosophy of enforcement, and I think it was probably a little crude and maybe not appropriate for the meeting but I’ll go ahead and tell you what I said. It was kind of like how the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they would crucify them. And then you know that town was really easy to manage for the next few years. And so you make examples out of people who are in this case not compliant with the law.”

Armendariz went on to say, “Compliance can get very high, very, very quickly. That’s what these companies respond to is both their public image but also financial pressure. So you put some financial pressure on a company, you get other people in that industry to clean up very quickly. So, that’s our general philosophy.”

Senator Inhofe brought up this incident with Armendariz to question the impartiality and the EPAs handling of three significant cases for the oil and gas industry, which appear, from the industry’s perspectives to be witch hunts.

The three cases under question that the EPA has been excessively forceful without any evidence are in Dimock, Pa., Parker Country, Texas, and Pavilion, Wyoming.

In all three cases, highly publicized press releases, reports and statements were made to the public regarding what the EPA said is fact that hydraulic fracturing causes water contamination in those areas. Since those releases, the EPA has gone on to find no evidence supporting their publicized claims.

EPA Regional Administrator Armendariz has since apologized for his statements regarding “crucify them,” but I doubt the media lash back will be as easy as he hopes. On Monday, Armendariz resigned from his post over Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and New Mexico.

How has the EPA handled the oil and gas industry in your state? Is Armendariz’s principles something widespread among the entire EPA agency?