Oil and Gas Is More Than Energy; It’s A Socially Responsible Industry

Tom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.


The oil and gas sector has been leading virus relief efforts wherever it operates. It has, too, done so on its own as a socially responsible industry.

It’s been nothing less than remarkable how the oil and gas industry has risen to the challenge in leading community relief efforts in response to the COVID-19 virus. It has funded food banks, small business assistance and all sorts of other socially responsible activities, not because it was ordered to participate but, rather, because it’s the right thing to do and good business. And, others are starting to notice.

oil and gas

Oil and gas, rising to the challenge, because it’s the right thing to do!

Take, for example, this small sampling of oil and gas relief efforts:

  • Baker Hughes donated personal protective equipment (PPE) to local healthcare facilities, including thousands of face masks and goggles, while reassigning 3D printers to make anti-virus gear.
  • Cabot Oil and Gas partnered with Weinberg Northeast Regional Food Bank and allocated $50,000 to aid those communities being hit the hardest, while donating radio advertisements to share messages of community action.
  • Chevron has donated $500,000 to DonorsChoose’s Keep Kids Learning initiative, which provides teachers across the U.S. in highest-need schools with grants to purchase essential supplies for students who are now out of school.
  • ExxonMobil has been producing isopropyl alcohol (sanitization products) and polypropylene (necessary for surgical masks and N95 respirators, while also producing and shipping gasoline, diesel, marine fuels to enable first responders to help those in need and keep the supply chain functioning.
  • Shell has donated 2.5 million liters of isopropyl alcohol to the Dutch hospital system (more than a six month supply) and set up a Shell Disaster Relief Fund for all company employees who wish to donate to an approved charity in the fight against COVID-19, with a 1:1 match for employee contributions up to $7,500 per employee.

Those are just a few examples. News journals are capturing many more. Consider this from the Daily Sentinel, for instance (emphasis added):

There has always been an inherent danger in the notion of abandoning fossil fuels, especially proposals by governments and institutions to clear their environmental conscience by “divesting” from oil and gas. After all, we need fossil fuels for everyday life. Now, as communities worldwide continue to deal with COVID-19, the value of fossil fuels has come into even greater focus.

Most of the public knows that fossil fuels such as natural gas and coal remain important parts of keeping the lights on and the economy running. But often overlooked is the role of fossil fuels in other aspects of everyday life. For example, many don’t know that natural gas is also a critical feedstock for producing petrochemicals like isopropyl alcohol and polypropylene.

Manufacturers can’t make much of the personal protection equipment now in high demand without polypropylene. Isopropyl alcohol, too, is an essential ingredient for hand sanitizer and many disinfectants that are currently in scarce supply. In other words, the world needs products manufactured by the fossil fuel industry to help combat the spread of this virus…

BP has announced it will supply 3 million gallons of jet fuel to FedEx Express charter flights and Alaska Airlines free of charge to ensure that personal protective equipment and other essential goods get to those who need it most. Chevron-funded Fab Labs has plans produce more than 20,000 face shields and masks for hospitals, nursing homes and first responders and has donated 100,000 surgical masks to California hospitals. Dow Chemical is collaborating to produce 100,000 face shields in Michigan. Phillips 66, Shell, and Marathon have also stepped up in a big way to ease the crisis for communities and help those on the front lines.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped some from continuing to bang the divestment drum. In a twist of irony, New York has turned to Exxon to supply isopropyl alcohol, even as New York City Council members introduced a resolution recently to “divest” the city from banks that invest in fossil fuels. Yet, despite the New York City Council’s apparent disdain for fossil fuel manufacturers, Exxon still intends to provide its hand sanitizer to the Empire State for free

Fossil fuel manufacturers aren’t the enemy; they’re part of the solution by making products consumers want and helping the planet. They’re also providing vital raw materials for products our nation desperately need right now. We should be embracing companies that are part of the solution, not targeting them.

That bolded part of the story gets at what is so wonderful about the oil and gas industry and appealed to me the moment I became more involved with the industry a decade ago; a get the job done attitude that stands miles apart from politics and political correctness. And, there’s more, from a Wall Street Journal editorial:

Exxon is also increasing production of a specialized polypropylene that is used in medical masks and gowns by about 1,000 tons per month, which is enough to manufacture up to 200 million medical masks or 20 million gowns. At the same time, it is applying its expertise in material science to develop new face shields that utilize a filtration fabric.

Working with Boeing, Exxon plans to manufacture as many as 40,000 masks an hour. According to an Exxon engineer, this new design and production method won’t be vulnerable to the supply-chain hiccups that have led to widespread mask shortages. No Defense Production Act coercion necessary.

Nice, but there’s still more, this time from the oil and gas down stream and midstream sectors, more specifically, UGI, a major distributor of natural gas and the developer of the PennEast Pipeline:

UGI Corporation announced today that members of its leadership team and board of directors will donate more than $350,000 to food banks serving communities across Pennsylvania.

The amounts to be donated include the equivalent of 30% of 90 days’ base compensation for the chief executive officer and directors and 20% of base compensation for other senior executives, together with contributions from other officers. In addition, the Company is inviting employees at multiple locations to participate through “virtual” food drives.

These individual contributions are in addition to $200,000 in donations made in April by the Company and its affiliates, UGI Utilities, Inc. and UGI Energy Services, LLC to food banks and community funds to assist individuals and families needing food support and other assistance…

The donation will be distributed among three food banks, including:

•  The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, which serves 27 counties across central Pennsylvania.

•  Helping Harvest, which distributes food to more than 300 charitable food program partners in Berks and Schuylkill Counties.

•  Philabundance, serving the City of Philadelphia and Philadelphia County, as well as the counties of Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery.

I could list numerous other contributions but the main point is this; the oil and gas industry has been fighting back against the virus, doing so both globally and locally and without any mandates to do so. The oil and gas industry is helping because it’s the only socially responsible thing to do and we’ve seen it over and over again. God Bless oil and gas!

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3 thoughts on “Oil and Gas Is More Than Energy; It’s A Socially Responsible Industry

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