Council’s CEO says newly combined association will accomplish much from position of strength
World Oil (WO): What prompted the merger of PESA (Petroleum Equipment and Services Association) and the Association of Energy Service Companies (AESC)?
Leslie Beyer (LB): We had worked closely with AESC for years, as long as I’ve been involved with PESA. They are extraordinary at keeping their members, who are involved mainly in well servicing and wireline, really abreast of everything that’s happening, specifically with safety but also in the regulatory scope. They are able to reach out and make sure that all their members know about any kind of legislative or regulatory impact that they might be feeling. They’ve always done a great job at that. And as you know, they work mainly with smaller domestic companies.
And Kenny Jordan (AESC’s Executive Director) is such a presence in the industry with his expertise on safety. Through the AESC, they’ve always had a large safety conference. They have this partnership with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) that has always supported their members and made sure that they are exposed to best practices and safety, and on the cutting edge of emerging things there.
So, we, at PESA, of course, are also strong in government affairs, but we touch international trade and a lot of other things, as well. There are international foreign policy issues that we engage with. So, we have worked together for quite some time and just shared information. But now, as the industry really evolves and moves in a very progressive way towards the future, and certainly considering what we went through this past year, it makes sense to bring our groups together, to better support all of the members.
Like I said, they have that strong safety presence, they have strong government affairs, and they have an extraordinary chapter structure. They’ve got 16 chapters across the U.S. that raise scholarship funds for oilfield services companies, which has always been an important part of what they do. And, as you know, they have Well Servicing magazine, which has been around in the industry for a really long time. Our members could also benefit from those things, and their members can benefit from the things that we’re good at, that we’ve done.
At PESA, we have, over the past three years, developed a lot of great workforce development content for all of our members that they use all the time. All of our members are constantly putting people through our executive coaching, our diversity and inclusion, our ESG, our knowledge sharing and certification program, and now the AESC members will be able to benefit from that.
We run a separate credit reporting division called the Credit Interchange Division, that all of our members use for their credit reporting systems, and now all the AESC members will be able to use that. Now is the time for the companies in the industry, as well as the trade associations that support them, to come together and try to find some synergies to be stronger. And so, this is really where that (merger) started, with the great relationship that I’ve always had with Kenny. And now, we thought it would be a good time to go ahead and bring everybody in and do that.
WO: This merger brings together roughly 200 member companies from PESA and 400 from AESC, is that correct?
LB: That’s correct. This gives us a total strength of 600 member companies.
WO: Where did the new name come from? What was the thinking on that?
LB: The thinking on that goes back to the fact that we’ve been considering renaming PESA since June of 2019. Our board, in a long-range planning session, decided that we were going to be making that move. And so, we have engaged in a thoughtful process with our board, and with some external consultants, to come up with a name that shows who we represent. And what is important about oilfield services is that we are the sector of the industry, where a lot of the technology is driven, certainly the technology that drives low-carbon emissions reduction efficiencies. All of that technology is driven largely by oilfield services.
And the oilfield services companies are also the ones that employ most of the workforce. So, what is the calling card of oilfield services? It’s workforce, and it’s technology. Those were the two words that we knew had to be involved in the name. And so, from that point we moved forward, trying to decide how best to describe ourselves—are we an association, are we a council, or are we a partnership? The nature of this organization is really just to support our members, help best practice sharing, and advocacy, so that brought about the council. Energy Workforce and Technology Council really describes who we self-identify as in oilfield services, especially since a lot of the technologies and a big chunk of the workforce are across oil and gas, as well as other energies.
A big part of what the council is going to do is to show how many of these operator companies are invested, not only in oil and gas but also in renewables, in geothermal, and all of these other areas—certainly hydrogen. And our companies are involved in those energies, too. Those technologies apply across the mix of the different energies that we’re (society) going to need. And so, that, we feel like, best describes who we are.
WO: There seems to be a lot of cross-pollination going on with companies between different energies. And, perhaps, are some professionals in the industry not fully aware of this?
LB: That’s right. I think there’s a lot of advocacy that needs to happen, and education needs to happen around
that, especially in the face of challenges on all sides. I think the two primary challenges right now for us are regulatory, from an administration that is really showing that they want to limit fossil fuel activities, and then access to capital from institutional investing, those are two challenges that we are facing head-on. We have to approach them with a better description of who we are and what we do. In most cases, there’s not a full level of understanding.
Like you just said, a lot of these companies are working across energies. These companies employ the smartest engineers that know how to develop energy at scale, and they need to be part of the solution, not a workforce that potentially could be lost. And this is the workforce of the future, and it’s not just focused on oil and gas. It maintains that original capability, because oil and gas will be critical for certainly a long time to come, but we have other abilities across the energy spectrum.
WO: Going forward, from a structural and administrative standpoint, how will the combined entity function?
LB: So, the new entity will have a board that is comprised of legacy PESA and AESC board members. I’m the CEO of the Council, and we will continue to engage in both international and domestic government affairs. And then, Kenny Jordan, the former executive director of the AESC, will serve as vice president, making sure that all the committees and all of the work that the AESC was doing continues to operate and get integrated within the PESA team. So, ideally, by the end of ’21, we’re one functioning entity that supports all the different committees, the current standing committees, and the work of AESC and PESA.
The other part of that is that Molly Determan on our team is the COO. She oversees all of our operations, and all of our programs and certifications. Tim Tarpley oversees all of our government affairs and legal as senior vice president, and then a new position, senior advisor for sustainability and ESG, has been created, and Andy Knapp, formerly of BP, will be in that role. As we have leaned into ESG and energy transition so much in these past few years, he has a leadership role in making sure that that continues, including lot of collaboration with operators and the investment community. And he will be charged with that.
WO: What will be the priorities of the Council, in terms of legislative versus industry and technology?
LB: The primary mission is to advocate on behalf of this workforce. That has applications that are regulatory and legislative, as well as marketing and communications. But, with regulatory and legislative, we will continue to do the lobbying that we have done in both groups, to make sure that these companies are represented in Washington and that we have a seat at the table, as regulatory action comes down that is going to negatively impact our various member companies.
For example, there’s a lot of talk right now around leasing and federal lands. A primary focus area for us is to educate on what is the economic impact of oil and gas extraction activities on federal lands; who does that impact geographically; what does the workforce look like; how much of that revenue generated goes back to fund conservation; and how much of it goes into taxes and school systems. All of those things are primary areas of focus for us. There are a number of elected officials that may not be traditionally supportive of oil and gas, but if we can speak to them, in a way that they understand this workforce and what they do, and their value and impact in their districts, then that’s the goal in a legislative sense.
As far as the programs and all of that, we have had great success in helping our members understand what this evolving industry looks like and how to navigate it. Increasingly, our customers are stating that they have the zero goal, and they are turning to the service providers, saying, “okay, how can you help me lower my carbon footprint, how can you help me lower emissions, I need to see all the way down in the supply chain, where can we collaborate with various stakeholders in our communities.” And so, educating our members on how to be more effective in stating what they do in ESG, and how to report those metrics, is going to be a significant area of focus for us, as well.
WO: What is the overall goal for the rest of this year?
LB: We are going to be much stronger advocates for what this sector does. And we’re going to help educate various stakeholders, not only members of Congress but the investment community, and our operator customers, as to what we actually provide, in terms of the technology that’s driven from this sector, as well as the workforce within.
WO: Obviously, there are concerns about the future workforce of the industry. In that regard, what might the Council be doing, in terms of providing some assistance to students that are still in the system, whether they be in high school, college, etc.?
LB: We have a number of ongoing STEM education programs that start actually at the middle school level. In the Permian basin region, in some areas of Texas and New Mexico, we fund STEM education efforts. At high school level, we have partnerships with colleges and universities. Increasingly, we’re starting to have partnerships with historically black colleges. I think a big part of all that is diversity, inclusion and equity. Helping our members make some progress on that front is only going to really assist us in attracting the workforce that we need for the future.
And a workforce that is increasingly astute in data analytics and automation, and computer science and AI. All those things, to the extent that we can really show that we are trying to attract talent, and we are taking care of a diverse workforce, we will be able to hang on to that talent that we need. We need a younger workforce, and I think diversity, inclusion and equity are a huge part of that, which is why we spend, and have spent, a lot of time at PESA focusing on those issues.
WO: Do you have some final thoughts on the new Council?
LB: I like talking about how we are energy technology companies. A few of the companies that we work with have been very successful in showing that. And that’s who we want to show, that we are an exciting place to work. It is an exciting industry. The challenge that we have before us is how we deliver cleaner, reliable, affordable energy to the world. That is a great challenge. It’s a great place to be. And jobs in this sector can be exciting, because they are highly, highly technical.
For us, we’re very excited about the partnership. Having 600 member companies makes a big difference, when you go in and speak, for example, to an elected official. Being able to say that you represent all those companies with one unified voice, and this is how they feel on one specific issue—that matters. And our companies, right now, really expect us to be strong advocates for them. They are faced with commodity challenges, demand challenges, and the investment community with its increasingly changing set of expectations from their customer base. There has never been a more critical time to have a strong advocate for the companies in this space.
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