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?

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