Director, External Affairs
Cabot Oil & Gas
[Editor’s Note: The natural gas industry has repeatedly jumped in during times of community crisis to help meet the needs of the regions in which it operates.]
When the the stay-at-home orders began, most could sense that the shutdowns were going to last more than two weeks. What was unclear was how to manage our lives after being cut off from resources often taken for granted. For Cabot, it was important to reach out and focus on helping our community in this time.
Meanwhile, there was little slow down in the natural gas industry due to it being essential. So, companies like Cabot, Seneca Resources and Repsol started reaching out to the agencies with whom we have previously partnered to help people through difficult times. Food security, Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and educational connectivity were just a few critical needs.
“People were suffering and, as always, this industry stepped up,” said Matt Henderson, President of Henderson Consulting Services. Henderson was the moderator for the recent PA Upstream 2020 conference held in State College. “We all have to step up,” Scott Snow, Stakeholder Relations Adviser of Repsol, remarked. “A lot of these organizations cannot get out right now and do their own fundraising.”
Henderson spoke of the gaps in technology for parents and students sent home to learn virtually. Cabot purchased Chrome books for students, but especially in rural Susquehanna County, connectivity is a serious challenge. Utilizing the same technology that we would to provide internet service on a rig, we provided WiFi hot spots from our vehicles, parking them for periods of time in school lots or at businesses where our community partners sponsored generators.
Seneca employees scoured their closets for masks, gloves and smocks that were delivered to hospitals and nursing homes in and around St. Mary’s and Ridgway. When they heard that farmers were dumping milk, Repsol partnered with their local dairy promotion program and Dairy Princess, purchased a large amount of dairy products and opened up three pop-up food banks to feed 500 families.
Rob Boulware, Manager of Stakeholder Relations at Seneca Resources acknowledged that the past 12 years of working the Marcellus Shale play has been just long enough for people to forget what a driving force and community resource the natural gas industry has been. “We are active in our community on a regular basis, but most people don’t know what we do,” Boulware stated.
To foster a positive community, companies must stay engaged. That’s why we spend time every day helping our community and strengthening relationships with business leaders, volunteers, school board members and state representatives. Henderson made the point that ongoing outreach is a source of pride for our employees, and we will continue to assist our communities going forward.