Changing Public Opinion on Oil & Gas Industry Vital to its Future

From angry politicians to a clueless public, it’s no surprise that the industry seems to have negative reactions from Americans across the country today. Now, more than ever, an important question those who support the oil and gas industry need to be answering is: How do we change the public’s perception of the oil and gas industry?

influence public opinion on the oil and gas industry“When people are angry about the high cost of gasoline they tend to consider the suppliers as their enemy. Most American consumers cannot relate the high energy prices to the inflationary policies of the government. As far as the average automobile driver is concerned, the oil companies are taking their money unfairly and putting it in their pockets. The fact that crude oil is an internationally traded commodity and that the price is determined in London, Paris, Tokyo and Beijing is lost on them. The American independent oil companies are trapped. They have little recourse against irate consumers and vindictive politicians,” writes Michael Lynch, analyst at Gerson Lehrman Group in response to a recent article in the Oil & Gas Journal noting that negative public opinion rises towards the oil and gas industry.

Lynch’s analysis reflects a growing unease the industry has faced in recent months and years, as the political landscape with a “green energy” agenda and offshore drilling mishaps have shaped the public’s opinion.

At California’s Independent Petroleum Association’s annual meeting in June, leaders announced the launching of a new web site,, as a way to get the industry’s message out.

The site includes an RSS feed of recent energy articles, quick facts about the industry, a comparison of energy prices, comparing a gallon of oil to other commodities Americans love like mochas, Coke and ketchup, energy facts and ideas for how operators and producers can get involved.

“The new message is that we are not the same as the deepwater developers. We are safe operators and we are local businesses,” wrote Gregory DL Morris in the American Oil & Gas Reporter’s July issue of the magazine, quoting California’s Independent Petroleum Associations’ director Dave Kilpatrick.

Morris also quoted Gayle Pratt, a volunteer with Central Coast Education Collaborative, who gave tips for getting the industry’s message across: 1. Make the info relevant, 2. Know your audience, 3. Provide basic facts and 4. Keep repeating your story.

What are other industry associations doing to help spread the importance and heritage of the oil and gas industry?

Here are a few of recent initiatives by state associations I found:

Independent Petroleum Association of America: has established an Academy for Petroleum Exploration, Production and Technology in Houston; sponsored the 49th Science and Engineering Fair of Houston, which the second largest fair of its kind for 7-12th graders, and more than 35,000 projects entered; facilitating energy education curriculum in Houston independent school districts; and helped launch the Global Energy Initiative with the World Affairs Council of Houston, which brings energy policy issues to students.

Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association: focuses on public and classroom education by creating education campaigns designed to increase awareness and significance of the Kansas oil  and gas industry, as well as a public relations campaign to improve the image and credibility of the oil and gas industry.

Louisiana Oil & Gas Association: has created an iPhone app that gives oil and gas news updates, one of the first of its kind in conjunction with Apple. The organization also has presentations on its website to educated Louisianans on the Haynesville Shale.

Oklahoma Oil & Natural Gas Producers and Royalty Owners: Has created free teacher workshops, in-class presentations, videos and educational animations to educated educators and children about the industry in Oklahoma. They also have a Kids section of their website called Petroville, OK, where kids can sign up to be a safety partner and download games, coloring sheets and science fair project ideas about the industry.

–  Ohio Oil & Gas Association: Has created the Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program that produces teacher workshops, scholarships, industry and workforce training, firefighting training and guest speakers in an attempt to educate Ohioans.

–  And finally, Energy Indepth, a website create by American natural gas and oil producers to educate the public on the facts and fiction on the oil and gas industry from emerging policy issues like the environment and taxes.

What are the associations and organizations that you are a member of doing to educate the public on the importance of the oil and gas industry? How can you get involved?


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