An annual shareholders’ meeting provides an opportunity to reflect upon the mission and actions of an organization. It is no different for the Permian Basin Petroleum Association. The accomplishments that I am going to share have nothing to do with me, but everything to do with President Ben Shepperd’s leadership and the chairmen and directors that have gone before me. Recall that Ben was recruited by a search committee led by past chairmen seven years ago, and we have been on an upward trajectory ever since.
Over the past five years, our budget has doubled to in excess of $1 million per year, but it seems our activities and impact have more than doubled. Our membership has grown from 350 members in 2008 to 840 currently—more than double. We have opened a PBPA office in Austin, and staffed it with an experienced and connected representative named David Holt. Next time you are in Austin, drop in on David. You may want to call in advance as David may be at the Railroad Commission or the Statehouse with a member. We have expanded our efforts into the New Mexico side of the Permian Basin. Our consultant Mike Miller is frequently in Santa Fe on the PBPA or a member’s behalf. We now find ourselves pulled up into the Panhandle and beyond with the Lesser Prairie Chicken endangered species potential listing. Speaking of listings, with Ben’s leadership, financial support from some of our generous members, and contributions from experts, including Attorney Ron Schindler from Pioneer Natural Resources, we played a major role in preventing the potential listing of the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard in 2012. The PBPA is now joining the defense of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) against litigation brought by the Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity regarding the USFWS’s decision not to list the lizard. What an irony that our organization is defending our federal government, who sometimes appears bent on impeding our investment rather than allowing us to do what we do best: create economic activity and tax revenue.
Another area of growth relates to our events. The watershed event seven years ago was the Top Hand Award honoring Jim Henry, who suggested we could make it a bigger event. We listened and we have. It helps to have great honorees like Jim Henry and recently Tim Leach and Scott Sheffield, three leaders whose companies have revitalized the Permian Basin. In addition to the Top Hand event held in January each year, our other events include our Annual Meeting (October), Clay Shoot (June), and Golf Tournament (April). These popular events turn a profit which we invest in staff salaries and efforts to communicate with legislators, regulators, and our members.
Speaking of members, we need your help in recruiting new members and your testimonials to existing members who are active in the Permian Basin but not engaged in our meetings and funding our initiatives. There is nothing more compelling than a member telling another member the value they receive and impact they have witnessed from the PBPA on their business. The active initiatives include Issue Advocacy, which funded approximately $300,000 of expenditures on consultants and legal experts to help prevent unwarranted endangered species listings and improving draft legislation and regulation. We have a $100,000 Permian Basin economic impact study being conducted by the Petroleum Engineering Department and Business School at Texas Tech University. A study by UT-San Antonio on the Eagle Ford has been used by industry to highlight its impact on the economy. We are overdue in having our own economic study for the Permian Basin, so leave it to the PBPA to pick up the ball and run with it. We are still looking for a couple of sponsors to join our syndicate, which includes the PBPA and several of our members. A hearty thanks from all of us is due these companies, as it will benefit us in our dialogue with politicians, regulators, voters, investors, and the media who cannot fathom the annual multi-billion dollar impact we have on jobs, taxes, and the trade balance each year in the Permian Basin and the nation.
The PBPA harnesses the talents and expertise of our members through a committee structure. We have regulatory, legislative, infrastructure (power and water), endangered species, nominating and executive committees, and now strategic planning. We encourage your participation in a committee where you can leverage your expertise.
In my last two columns, I have commented on the numerous political receptions and meetings in Midland-Odessa. I would be remiss not to mention that many elected officials and candidates for office have relied upon the PBPA as a clearinghouse to access constituents and supporters for their campaigns. Fortunately, President Ben Shepperd is experienced with the political process, including the election process and the legislative/regulatory processes. Ben was Texas Railroad Commissioner Charles Matthews’ Legislative Director, among other positions he held in Austin before gracing us with his leadership in Midland. While coordinating political visits is taxing on Ben, his staff, and those of us who embrace the exposure to our public servants, it is a great opportunity for us to share our success stories and our concerns about impediments to continuing our rapid pace of development of hydrocarbon resources in the Permian Basin.
I hope you have a greater appreciation for the breadth of our PBPA’s reach and impact on our business. Our largest investors, who are the most active drillers in the Permian Basin, do not want us to stop here. Accordingly, we are initiating strategy sessions with our core leadership to examine our recent history, evaluate our present agenda and priorities, and map out a bold future for the PBPA. One of the PBPA’s large investors challenged us by stating, “If you were to create PBPA from scratch today, knowing what is on the horizon, what would the organization look like from a staff, committee, and budget perspective?” Additional advice from a board member and big supporter follows: “dream big and we’ll get the resources” to accomplish the mission of the PBPA to meet the growing challenges of regulation, legislation, and infrastructure facing our industry.