CORPUS CHRISTI – During the trying times of the pandemic, the oil industry has taken a dive but prices are slowly making a comeback. 

With the energy industry setting records in 2019 with $16 billion in state and local tax royalties, it will be a tough climb to get to those numbers back and experts in the field have their sights set on the future as the industry begins to recover. 

“Shareholders, governments and society expects more from us today than they have in the past,” Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Chevron Corporation Michael Wirth said during the Texas Oil & Gas Association summit last week. “And you can you can disagree with it, you can be frustrated with it, but it’s just a fact. I think the thing the industry can do is say ‘Okay how do we expect more from ourselves?’

Wirth said he thinks there’s an opportunity for the industry to do better as technology is being used to improve pipeline integrity, which is needed to make sure they do not lose oil in the ground and improve environmental performance.

“We’ve built a strategy in the Permian Basin to say we won’t bring production online, unless we know we can flow the gas we’re not going to just flare gas as a routine matter,” Wirth continued. “And it takes a little more planning, it takes a more disciplined approach to how we develop assets and layout field gathering infrastructure, but it’s doable.”

He added that some of the recent data shows that the Chevron Corporation is one of the better ones in the Permian on methane emissions but that energy companies can all improve and that the people in Texas care about their environment, just as much as people in California, where he lives.

“There’s nobody that cares more than ranchers and farmers and oil men that live and work outdoors and in the environment,” Wirth said. “I think the industry needs to step up. Not because governments force us to but because it’s the right thing to do. It’s good for our business.”

Texas Oil & Gas Association President Todd Staples said that Chevron has worked very closely with the Texas Methane and Flaring Coalition finding tangible ways to reduce methane and to help mitigate methane emissions and reduce flaring, and to work on establishing best practices.

“We do evolve and we do get better and I see all in gas as we think about the products that we use every day,” Wirth continued. “It is a part of our daily lives and the commitment from industry has been phenomenal.”

Staples added, “If consumers understood what is taking place, I think they can see that we can have a strong energy future and it can be done in an environmentally friendly way.

“I come from an agricultural background and the advancements are just staggering and the same is true in energy to have a better quality of life, better food opportunities and food security and energy security categories go hand-in-hand.”

Chairman and CEO Plains All American Pipeline, L.P. Willie Chiang said, “For the last 10 years the midstream segment really spent a lot of time focused on trying to stay ahead of our upstream as far as production. You can’t produce the barrels if you can’t get them to market.

“Fortunately, equity was cheap, debt was cheap and there was a huge growth mode over the last decade, to be able to pipe the U.S. 180 degrees and really get barrels from going into the country to ultimately leaving the U.S. in North America.”

Chiang said that pipeline companies have done a good job of staying ahead of the production curve, while not perfect, but they’ve been able to put enough infrastructure in place to accommodate the significant growth. “So, a lot has been done a lot of pipes have been built there’s been a healthy competition on a lot of long haul pipes. And I think certainly for the near term into moderate term, I think particularly around being able to evacuate basins and get them to key markets. We’ve got adequate pipelines in there.

“The Permian now has access to five, six or seven  different markets because now you’re able to get to Corpus Christi or Houston directly through a number of pipelines that have been built,” Chiang added. “Beyond that you’ve got access to water which you can get to any key U.S. port, as well as global ports.

“The access to markets has been absolutely key and we think about our business, it’s aggregation of barrels, it’s flow assurance for the producers or customers or for the customers receiving it.

“I think for the Permian Basin, particularly crude, there’s easily five years of capacity of crude before we have to worry about building any more long haul pipes.”

Wirth quoted Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy Mark Menezes and stated “We need rules of the road not roadblocks” when talking about permitting and the future environmental impacts the oil industry is facing.

He said that everybody in the industry wants to follow the rules of the road, but they need to know what the rules are and energy companies need to have proper processes for permit reviews and environmental impact reviews and the like.

“But then we need to get on with things so we need to be sure that we don’t use those tools to push an agenda that is not really a genuine effort to strengthen this country’s economy, to create good jobs, to create energy security,” Wirth said.

“We have the greatest workforce and the greatest culture of innovation, the greatest resource base and there’s every reason to believe – and I’m an optimist about the future  – that we can continue, if we work together across multiple industries, to work with policymakers and continue to advocate for framework that allows us to be an energy superpower that’s second to none.”

Paul Gonzales is a reporter at The News of San Patricio and can be reached at 361-364-1270, or by email at pgonzales@mysoutex.com.

 

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