Being heard and understood by the public was an overarching theme of the 55th Annual Meeting of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association, which convened Oct. 25-26 in Midland.
by Jesse Mullins
A full day’s slate of speakers and panels concluded what organizers felt to be one of the best annual meetings, in recent times, of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association, held Oct. 25-26. A luncheon keynote address by SM Energy CEO Javan “Jay” Ottoson and an early-afternoon talk by Texas Tribune CEO and co-founder Evan Smith injected an out-of-the-ordinary ingredient and helped make this year’s meeting especially thought-provoking.
The all-day activities of Nov. 26 at the Midland Petroleum Club followed an evening icebreaker event held at the Petroleum Museum, also in Midland.
The morning of the 26th opened with a 7:30 a.m. Texas-New Mexico Breakfast, which included back-to-back keynotes from, first, Chairman Christi Craddick, Commissioner of the Texas Railroad Commission, and, second, Ryan Flynn, Executive Director of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association.
Next came the Texas Legislative Panel, which put a spotlight on Permian Basin interests in state politics, as well as on the results of last winter’s Legislature and the tensions felt throughout that session. Politics are changing in the Lone Star State and the panelists had something to say about it. The four panelists were Texas State Senator Kel Seliger, Chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee; State Representative Drew Darby, Chairman of the House Energy Resources Committee; State Senator Charles Perry, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water, and Rural Affairs; and State Representative Brooks Landgraf, member of the House Energy Resources Committee.
Following a short break, activity resumed in one of the downstairs rooms as an Infrastructure Panel discussed roads, midstream, and even Gulf Coast exports. Panelists were James Beauchamp, president, MOTRAN Alliance, Inc.; Jeremy Goebel, senior vice president of acquisitions and strategic planning for Plains All-American Pipeline; and Jarl Pedersen, chief commercial officer, Port of Corpus Christi. Jacki Daily, host of radio’s The Jacki Daily Show, acted as moderator.
The luncheon session brought Association news from PBPA President Ben Shepperd and Chairman Clint Walker, followed by the keynote by the aforementioned Jay Ottoson. Clint Walker introduced Ottoson’s message thusly: “In the spirit of our theme today about getting your message out and telling the general public about what we do, Jay is promoting what is just a really exciting program, and it’s very proactive. Instead of playing defense all the time [with public opinion], we’re playing offense, and part of that offense is educating not only ourselves in the industry, but the public as well.” Ottoson delivered on the promise. To get just a taste of what he was talking about, see the website (LookBeyond.org) that his team has created and that they maintain. Ottoson urged other companies in the audience to get on the bandwagon, and to participate on the site and in industry public relations efforts in general.
Ottoson’s talk was followed with some association business, conducted from the podium by chairman Walker, and that led into the first of the afternoon sessions. Evan Smith spoke on “Drilling Deep into Texas Politics”—and drill deep he did. It was an eye-opening talk.
The Service Company Executive Panel that followed was another session that was a bit out-of-the-ordinary, and it shed some perspective that doesn’t always get heard. Panelists were Jim Newman, senior vice president for regional operations at Basic Energy Services; Edward Lauer, Chief Financial Officer at Lucky Services; and Chris Gatjanis, area vice president / Permian Basin, for Halliburton. Pat Bond, Co-CEO of Gravity Oilfield Services, was moderator.
And the day’s sessions were rounded out with the Exploration and Production Companies Executive Panel. Panelists were Jeffrey S. Balmer, vice president and general manager for Permian Basin Operations at Encana Oil and Gas; Steven H. Pruett, president and CEO of Elevation Resources LLC; and Thomas “Tom” Hellman, vice president of Permian Operations for Marathon Oil. Kyle McGraw, executive vice president and CDO of Legacy Reserves, served as moderator.
Chairman Craddick had these words to share with the organization. “I am so proud of the remarkable progress of our state’s energy industry in oil and gas production, particularly right here in the heart of the Permian Basin,” Craddick said. “The strides you are making are keeping Texas on top, leading the nation in innovative strategies for energy development and critical issues like conserving freshwater.
“I’m especially proud of the Commission’s role in this effort by prioritizing efficiency and transparency, and ensuring common sense regulation that allows the industry to thrive through safe, responsible energy production,” she added. “To build on our progress, next year, we are focusing on rule revisions and efficiency improvements, measures to retain and attract expert staff, as well as work with the legislature on a better funding structure for the agency. We look forward to your feedback as we begin these important projects.”
[Editor’s Note: Space doesn’t allow us to go into more depth here about the content of the various messages, but if you will visit pboilandgasmagazine.com, there you will find writeups of much of what transpired during the Oct. 26 sessions.]