Throughout the global pandemic and oil price war, the U.S. oil and natural gas industry has shown both its resilience and commitment to the communities in which it operates, especially in Texas.
Giving Back Despite Challenging Times
On January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global health emergency. Approximately one month later, the WHO characterized the novel coronavirus epidemic as a global pandemic.
Following the WHO’s announcement, daily routines around the world began to halt. Restaurants and bars closed their doors, businesses forced employees to work from home, and meetings and classrooms became virtual. Vacations were canceled, flights became empty, and people stopped driving their cars causing a drastic decrease in oil demand.
Concurrently, members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) attended a summit in Vienna where they agreed to cut oil production by an additional 1.5 million barrels per day. OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, requested members of OPEC+, an organization of countries who also export crude oil but are not members of OPEC, to do the same. Russia refused, a decision that subsequently plunged the price of oil by 10 percent and led to a month-long international commodity price war.
On April 20, the price of U.S. benchmark crude fell below $0 for the first time in history. American shale producers require oil prices of $40 or higher, therefore the negative price placed some oil and gas companies in the direst financial situations they had ever experienced. Producers slashed capital spending, furloughed thousands of employees, and cut drilling wells across the country.
Despite a struggling industry, the Lone Star State’s energy sector understands the turmoil the pandemic and international oil price war placed on communities where they operate. Oil and gas companies were quick to step up for those in need and have continued to give back to affected communities across the state.
For example, since the start of 2020, Kinder Morgan has collectively donated just shy of a million dollars to support fire stations, police departments, local schools and other organizations in central Texas communities where the company is constructing the Permian Highway Pipeline.
ConocoPhillips presented a hospital in the City of Cuero with a check for $10,000, which the hospital plans to use to purchase ultraviolet lights to provide a deeper clean in surgical suites. Apache Corporation supported frontline workers in six rural West Texas hospitals by donating more than $50,000 for the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Assistance from Texas’ oil and natural gas industry has not been limited to first responders, though, as many companies generously donated to food banks, restaurant relief funds, and helped provide access to educational tools in communities across the state.
EOG Resources donated almost $1 million to 40 different food banks, including those in Harris, Bexar and Tarrant Counties. Similarly, Cheniere Energy made approximately $1 million in contributions to organizations around the world, including Texas food banks, Meals on Wheels programs, and the Salvation Army.
Since May, the United Way of Greater Houston and the Greater Houston Community Foundation’s Greater Houston COVID-19 Recovery Fund has raised $17 million. With large donations from oil and gas companies like Kinder Morgan, ConocoPhillips, and Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, the Recovery Fund has been able to distribute grants to Houston-area nonprofits that provide access to food, health care, shelter, utility assistance, transportation and other unmet basic needs which arose as a result of the pandemic.
Headquartered outside of Houston, ExxonMobil donated $100,000 to the Texas Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Relief Fund, which was started in an effort to alleviate the challenges brought on by the pandemic to the state’s restaurants and food industry workers. In addition to their donation, ExxonMobil employees also helped deliver thousands of meals to medical professionals in the city.
Out in West Texas, in preparation for virtual and social-distanced learning, Apache Corporation covered the cost of more than one thousand internet hotspots for students lacking reliable internet access.
As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the country, communities throughout Texas know they are not fighting alone. The Texas oil and natural gas industry is supporting the state every step of the way and will prevail.
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