Industry urged to change hydraulic fracturing ‘conversation’

The oil and gas industry needs to change the conversation about hydraulic fracturing by engaging with the public to demystify the process and highlighting efforts to reduce the environmental footprints of drilling and completion.

This was the message delivered by a panel of public relations experts at Petroleum Connection’s Clean Frac’ing Conference in Houston.

David Holt, spokesperson for the Consumer Energy Alliance, asked why the term “environmentalist” is applied only to opponents of oil and gas development. “We’re all environmentalists,” he said. “No one wants to destroy the environment.”

Richard Levick, chief executive officer of the communications firm LEVICK, said critics have been allowed to define the conversation about hydraulic fracturing, and the industry now faces crises of branding and trust.

Public fear of fracing is motivated by emotions, Levick said. “This is not a factual argument. Perception trumps reality 100% of the time.”

He recommended humanizing the industry by enlisting third parties to share ways they have benefited from unconventional oil and gas development. For instance, Levick suggested creating a video highlighting the story of a retiree on a limited budget who is not forced to choose between purchasing food and heating his home due to the affordability of US natural gas.

Levick said people are more receptive to ideas seen as coming from peers than they are to technical explanations about the facts of energy development, as this carries the implication of ignorance on the part of the listener.

Engaging the public

George Stark, spokesperson for Cabot Oil & Gas, said his company is working to engage the public in a dialogue about energy development. “We’ve allowed the emotion of the opposition to dictate the conversation,” he said.

Cabot, a large producer in the Marcellus shale, received an unprecedented, positive response to an annual picnic it began hosting in the region 4 years ago. A few hundred people were expected at the inaugural event, Stark said, and more than 2,500 people showed up. Attendance at the picnic in 2013 exceeded 10,000.

Stark said that is part of a larger effort under way at Cabot to demystify hydraulic fracturing. The company has also invited community leaders, elected officials, and members of the media to witness frac jobs.

Obie O’Brien, vice-president of government affairs for Apache Corp., stressed the importance of explaining hydraulic fracturing in nontechnical language.

He asked, “If I put a bottle in front of you and I told you it had 12 oz of dihydrogen oxide, would you drink it?” Describing water in this manner gives people pause, he said, in much the same way that listing the chemical composition of additives used in frac fluid does. O’Brien recommended highlighting instead the fact that frac fluid contains ingredients found in common household cleaning products, like liquid soap.

Hugo Gutierrez, spokesperson for Marathon Oil Corp., said some fear of hydraulic fracturing stems from a lack of information and context. He pointed to exaggerated views about how much hydraulic fracturing strains water supplies.

While the actual claim on water supplies is relatively low, Gutierrez said, many producers, like Marathon and Apache, are working to reduce the amount of fresh water used in hydraulic fracturing operations. “I think we’ve got a good story to tell,” he said. “But it needs to be simplified and told to a large body of people.”

Contact Rachael Seeley at rachaels@ogjonline.com

Related Articles

US Forest Service takes no stance on fracturing in national forest

12/12/2014

The US Forest Service has dropped a proposal that would have banned hydraulic fracturing in the George Washington National Forest.

Weak crude prices could threaten Bakken production growth

12/12/2014 Bakken shale production set another record in August, but weakening crude prices and flaring reduction efforts threatened to temper production grow...

BHI: US rig count forced down by large losses in Texas

12/12/2014 Forced down by large losses in Texas and specifically the Permian basin, the US drilling rig count plummeted 27 units to settle at 1,893 rigs worki...

Husky reports start of steam operations at Sunrise oil sands project

12/12/2014

Husky Energy, Calgary, reported the start of steam operations at the in situ Sunrise Oil Sands Project in northeastern Alberta.

TAEP: TPI still peaking, but ‘contraction unavoidable’ as oil prices fall

12/12/2014 The Texas Petro Index (TPI), a composite index based on a comprehensive group of upstream economic indicators released by the Texas Alliance of Ene...

Independent assessment hikes Husky heavy oil resources

12/12/2014 Husky Energy Inc., Calgary, says an independent assessment increases its heavy oil resources in the Lloydminster region of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

US needs more data before ending crude export ban, House panel told

12/11/2014 Much more environmental impact information is needed before the US can reasonably remove crude oil export limits, a witness told a House Energy and...

BOEM raises offshore oil spill liability limit to $134 million

12/11/2014 The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management increased the liability limit for oil-spill related damages from offshore operations to $134 million from ...

Stone drills successful Utica exploration well

12/10/2014 Stone Energy Corp., Lafayette, La., reported that its Pribble 6HU well in Wetzel County, W.Va., flowed from a 3,605-ft lateral at 30 MMcfd during t...

White Papers

AVEVA NET Accesses and Manages the Digital Asset

Global demand for new process plants, power plants and infrastructure is increasing steadily with the ...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Approach for the Digital Asset

To meet the requirements for leaner project execution and more efficient operations while transferring...
Sponsored by

Diversification - the technology aspects

In tough times, businesses seek to diversify into adjacent markets or to apply their skills and resour...
Sponsored by

Engineering & Design for Lean Construction

Modern marketing rhetoric claims that, in order to cut out expensive costs and reduce risks during the...
Sponsored by

Object Lessons - Why control of engineering design at the object level is essential for efficient project execution

Whatever the task, there is usually only one way to do it right and many more to do it wrong. In the c...
Sponsored by

Plant Design for Lean Construction - at your fingertips

One area which can provide improvements to the adoption of Lean principles is the application of mobil...
Sponsored by

How to Keep Your Mud System Vibrator Hose from Getting Hammered to Death

To prevent the vibrating hoses on your oilfield mud circulation systems from failing, you must examine...
Sponsored by

Duty of Care

Good corporate social responsibility means implementing effective workplace health and safety measures...
Sponsored by

Available Webcasts


On Demand

Optimizing your asset management practices to mitigate the effects of a down market

Thu, Dec 11, 2014

The oil and gas market is in constant flux, and as the price of BOE (Barrel of Oil Equivalent) goes down it is increasingly important to optimize your asset management strategy to stay afloat.  Attend this webinar to learn how developing a solid asset management plan can help your company mitigate costs in any market.

register:WEBCAST


Parylene Conformal Coatings for the Oil & Gas Industry

Thu, Nov 20, 2014

In this concise 30-minute webinar, participants have an opportunity to learn more about how Parylene coatings are applied, their features, and the value they add to devices and components.

register:WEBCAST


Utilizing Predictive Analytics to Optimize Productivity in Oil & Gas Operations

Tue, Nov 18, 2014

Join IBM on Tuesday, November 18 @ 1pm CST to explore how Predictive Analytics can help your organization maximize productivity, operational performance & associated processes to drive enterprise wide productivity and profitability.

register:WEBCAST


US HYDROCARBON EXPORTS Part 3 — LNG

Fri, Nov 14, 2014

US LNG Exports, the third in a trilogy of webcasts focusing on the broad topic of US Hydrocarbon Exports.

A discussion of the problems and potential for the export of US-produced liquefied natural gas.

These and other topics will be discussed, with the latest thoughts on U.S. LNG export policy.

register:WEBCAST


Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected