Open Letter from Pete Waldroop: Why U.S. Energy Will Survive and Thrive

Our industry has been dealt a powerful blow.  The global COVID-19 pandemic hit us hard with sudden reduction in global demand brought on by necessary constraints to travel and consumption.  As dark of an hour as it may seem from inside the global pandemic, the world and the U.S. will emerge from the crisis.

U.S. energy dominance is more than just ample supply in our basins, it’s a combination of the best, brightest, and most hard-working people in any industry as well as our tenacity and grit.  When combined with our ability to continuously innovate and drive new efficiencies, that spirit will usher in a new wave of U.S. energy growth.

Our industry is an interesting one.  In some ways, we have lagged other industries from a technology perspective.  But we have innovated when we needed to do so. Think hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, GIS mapping capabilities and geological science beyond anything imagined ten years ago. Yes, the U.S. oil & gas industry is in a tough place but as we have always done, we will overcome.  The current situation only serves as another catalyst for innovation. We must continue to find ways to reduce costs and utilize technology to make pulling a barrel of oil from the ground less expensive. And as we have seen time and time again, those who side with innovation will weather downturns and thrive through the inevitable resurgence.

For years we’ve talked about the big crew change in our industry as a generation of energy professionals is replaced by a new one.  We are in the midst of that change right now and what young energy professionals need to know is that they work in an industry that has historically gone through boom and bust cycles.  Many industries do this. The ups and downs have been with us since the beginning of oil & gas extraction, a business that is heavily influenced by day to day trading and global economics.  Ask an old timer (like me) and he or she will tell you about some of the big roller coaster moments, like the crash in the 80’s that sent oil to $15. But even after all these downturns, U.S. energy is still here, still crucial to the world, and we will find a way to emerge stronger than before.  And the new steward of U.S. energy’s future is you, the new generation. As part of the new crew, you are vital to completing the mission, so hang in there.

What happens now?  Our industry will hunker down in order to survive until prices rebound.  Yes, this won’t be as fun as 2017-2019. But this is life. So, our job, as oil and gas professionals, is to keep our industry running the best we can, understand the pain our counterparts are feeling when they ask for price reductions or reduced payments, and do our best to be good partners.  Ultimately, we must also commit more than ever to innovation to drive CapEx and OpEx down. We must draw on partnerships to augment our unique strengths. And we must continue to pull together as a community. For our part, W Energy Software is doubling down on innovation, working with our customers to see how we can help, and driving forward with new partnerships to tap into new technologies and drive new operational and cost efficiencies.

As there are a lot of people in this industry who are much smarter than I am, I welcome your ideas, counsel, and even some venting if necessary.  It’s a tough time, but it also presents an opportunity. How do we cut costs and improve the efficiency of our organizations while still providing tremendous value to the country?  What are your thoughts on how we can all get there? I encourage everyone to start that conversation today.

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