Preaching to the Choir

It's been said many times before, but at the recent IADC Drilling Conference in San Diego, the cry for our industry to work harder to build the public's trust was heard again.

"Your image started out long before Macondo," said Quenton Dokken, president and chief executive officer of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation Inc. He referred to the April 2010 blowout of the deepwater Macondo well off Louisiana, which resulted in 11 deaths and a massive oil spill.

"You are a part of the whole of vested interests in the gulf. You are not the whole," Dokken said. "Industry is only as strong as its weakest player."

Martin Durbin, American Petroleum Institute executive vice-president of government affairs, agreed. "As an industry, we've got to hold ourselves up to a higher standard," he said.

Durbin also noted that industry can be proud of its accomplishments, including the operating standards that API has provided since it was founded decades ago.

Currently, API is working to communicate with residents "county by county and town by town" in states where industry is using hydraulic fracturing. Individual companies also are doing this, Durbin said. API also consults with regulators and lawmakers in these states.

"Trust has got to be viewed as a long-term prospect," Durbin said.

There are many companies in our industry, such as Gastar, who are utilizing MicroSeismic's technology to make real-time decisions while frac'ing, saving time, money and protecting groundwater supplies.

Overall, our industry needs to work together to promote energy literacy throughout the general public by honestly presenting the facts, he said. This means explaining the risks as well as the benefits such as job creation, economic growth and revenue that the industry provides the federal government.