Todd Staples: Safety is top priority of oil and gas industry

The following appeared in the Odessa American on February 22, 2019.

Texas oil and natural gas companies are fueling our lives and funding our state and local budgets. From production to pipelines, to refineries and ports, new technologies and innovations allow for safer, more efficient, and less impactful energy production, all while employing hundreds of thousands of Texans in good-paying jobs and providing funding for our schools, roads and first responders.

The industry’s success is the reason our state’s Rainy Day Fund is predicted to be a record-setting $15.4 billion. It’s the reason our Permanent School Fund is the largest educational endowment in the nation. And it’s the reason the Texas Department of Transportation has billions of newly generated dollars to invest in transportation infrastructure across the state.

But along with this phenomenal growth — which has made Texas the global energy superpower – have come strains on local infrastructure. Traffic congestion and accidents in the Permian Basin are at an all-time high, largely because local infrastructure is undersized. But the fact is, activity in the region will only increase, and with increased activity comes a renewed focus by the oil and natural gas industry to continue making improvements when it comes to the safety of our operations.

We applaud Governor Abbott and the Texas Department of Transportation for the countless hours spent with operators planning for ways to meet the needs of our state’s energy areas. Both state and federal dollars have been drawn down to improve the state highway system. These collaborations will ensure that the world’s most prolific energy basin will continue to produce not only energy, but also the billions of much-needed transportation dollars that fund development in transportation corridors across Texas.

And our industry isn’t just focused on supporting state roads. We strongly back the request by counties in Texas’ energy corridors for state funding to assist with county road repairs and other needs. The energy industry is funding the Rainy Day Fund — 100 percent of it to be exact — so we think it is smart to use some of those dollars to help energy sector counties make road improvements.

With safety as the main priority, oil and natural gas producers in Texas are working with communities where they operate with a continued commitment to find sensible solutions to the unique challenges. The Permian Strategic Partnership was formed by energy producers to focus on the regional needs of the Permian Basin, including safer roads, better schools, improved access to healthcare, continued workforce development and housing issues. Likewise, the Permian Road Safety Coalition is made up of oil and natural gas logistics experts and our partners, and is focused on improving road safety.

Some companies are exploring how they can shrink the growing number of sand trucks, which is expected to increase up to 136% over the next four years, by keeping truck size the same and adding axels, new safety features and additional breaking capacity. Independent experts confirm additional axles can transport material more efficiently with less wear and tear on our roads.

These are just a few of the examples of the industry’s commitment to responsible partnerships to improve the lives of the fine Texans who live, work, and raise families across our state.

Texas is fueling the world, and the oil and natural gas companies operating in the Permian Basin and across the state are working every day to improve the quality of life of Texans. The industry looks forward to continuing to partner with local and state leaders to come up with solutions to the complex issues while ensuring the wellbeing of Texans is at the forefront of every decision made.

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