I’m not quite sure where to start with this moment of reflection on 2021 and my role as Chairman for IADC.
First, it is an honor to represent drilling contractors around the world. I can assure the membership that I will endeavor to lead the association so that it continues to provide appropriate and responsible advocacy and membership support that forwards and elevates our industry in these challenged times.
Having been in this business since graduating engineering school in the late ’70s, and having managed to get through a few downturns while maintaining some sense of sanity, one thing I can assure the membership is that this association is full of survivors and innovators. No doubt about that!
Member companies have found innovative ways to apply technology that allows us to drill out miles at a time, within a very defined target, and to do that safely, without incidents, and in about one-fourth the time it took less than a decade ago.
While most the world’s population struggles to understand exactly where energy comes from, they continue to demand more and more of it all the time. It’s the paradoxical world that has developed over the past decade.
Over the past year, the COVID crisis has also exacerbated how ill prepared governments are around the world in dealing with this novel virus. It is a war of sorts, and rational thinking needs to occur. We can and need to make rational and logical choices on how we reduce casualties without having to lock down economies. We have seen how resilient and pragmatic drilling contractors around the world can be in dealing with this COVID crisis.
I will be the first to admit that I did not think for a moment that we would still be dealing with this virus into the new year. Our industry, and the world certainly, quite literally needs “a shot in the arm,” the vaccine.
With this backdrop, we seem to be somewhat at a crossroad. We have governments that appear to want to bring forward legislation that will challenge the energy business, while ignoring the reality that low-cost energy is a necessity for an economy pulling off bottom and competing against every other country in the world faced with the same challenge. Countries will need to build back strong GDPs to survive the aftermath of the COVID dilemma.
More than ever, I believe our association needs to especially focus on ESG and to elevate the communication on how this industry, day in and day out, provides ethical, safe and responsible energy supply to the world.
Perhaps a larger question is how does IADC, as an association, contribute in helping this industry rebrand itself?
I look at the “renewables” industry and wonder how cutting down forests, which suck in CO2 and provide us O2, to transport them on trucks to a mill, which then pelletizes them and stuffs them into decommissioned coal-fired electrical generation plants, which are connected to grids, makes any scientific, environmental or economic sense. They rely on government subsidies to make any financial sense for investors. The taxpayer and the consumer are, of course, one and the same. The cumulative net emissions required to generate a kw/hr is far more inefficient than using natural gas, for example. Sure, we need to manage forests, but we also need to think of full-cycle emissions in generating our power needs. I suppose we just all “feel better” when we consume energy in an electrical form.
So the next question is, how do we change the narrative to get governments and the general public to understand that the world has lots of low-emission natural gas that IADC members around the world can safely and efficiently tap into, and which – if used more widely around the world – could actually accelerate the reduction of emissions? The narrative around this issue is obviously the industry’s largest existential threat.
We have always said that “there is nothing like low oil prices to fix low oil prices,” but I feel this time, it is perhaps a bit different.
It’s time to mobilize some out-of-the-box thinking.
Look forward to seeing how we, as an industry, might execute on this over the next few years. DC