PESA President Leslie Beyer spoke on January 7 at API’s State of American Energy 2020 as part of the Future of Energy panel.
Beyer joined skilled trades advocate Mike Rowe, MikeRoweWorks Foundation; Terry O’Sullivan, President, Laborer’s International Union of North America (LIUNA); and Karen Kerrigan, President & CEO, Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council.
The panel discussed some of the challenges facing the energy workforce of today, the policy requirements needed for the industry to innovate towards the future and the opportunities for women to engage and bring more diverse thought into the industry.
When asked about politicians at the state and federal level who support a hydraulic fracturing ban, Beyer cited a study by the Global Energy Institute that predicts gas prices would double and household energy expense would triple.
[su_quote cite=”Leslie Beyer, President, PESA”]“Economic impacts would be significant, with increases in energy and transportation costs across the board. The US trade balance would also realize true damage. Geopolitically, we’d return to our reliance on the Middle East for energy. None of these things are good for Americans. Possibly the most negative impact would be environmental, where emissions will actually go up because of an increased reliance on coal. But when we talk about a fracking ban, it’s also important for us to recognize it’s not just at the national level that we’re seeing these threats, but also at the state level.” [/su_quote]
Beyer said recent efforts in Colorado are an example of regulatory creep that is a knee-jerk response and wouldn’t affect the stated goal of lowering emissions.
“What we have to do is focus on technology and innovation as a solution. Many companies in our industry are investing in carbon capture sequestration. Oilfield services companies, operators, IOCs – are all investing in collaboration with renewable technologies. The oilfield services companies that are really energy technology companies are investing significantly in water recycling and reuse.”
In addition, continued focus on AI and automation is changing the energy industry’s job profile.
[su_quote cite=”Leslie Beyer, President, PESA”]“All this increased innovation opens up our industry to a new workforce. The oil and gas industry offers high tech opportunities and we need to market our industry differently.” [/su_quote]
When asked about what kinds of policies will support the industry, Beyer discussed the uniquely American technology involved in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing and impact of trade negotiations on the sector.
“Right now, trade and tariffs are impacting the industry in a significant way, specifically in oilfield services, where we have to have a clear vision of what and how we can import and export equipment in the supply chain. First and foremost at the policy level, we have to focus on free trade and the policies that will support it.”
Finally, Beyer discussed the state of diversity in the industry and how diversity helps companies gain market share and increase productivity.
“There’s no question that more diverse leadership at any given company is going to help it thrive,” she said. “The industry is moving towards a more diverse workforce, but we need to develop a culture within companies that is more inclusive.”
“As energy evolves and grows, we need to be able to attract thinkers that will get us through the big challenges ahead. We’re moving closer to a lower carbon future, so diverse thinking in those leading the charge will only benefit everyone.”