Haley Curry, Eagle Ford shale STEER rep visits Pleasanton
I invited Haley Curry, STEER Director of External Affairs, who had visited here in Pleasanton on previous occasions while she was serving as Corporate Communications Manager with Chesapeake Energy. She became associated with STEER in 2013. Curry was impressed with the pace of growth in Pleasanton and a meeting was arranged for her with Bruce Pearson, Pleasanton City Manager.
Prior to visiting with Pearson, I asked Curry to discuss the mission of STEER in the South Texas oil business, relating primarily to the Eagle Ford Shale.
“I’ve been with STEER since October,” said Curry, who continued, “Primarily working on external communications efforts with stakeholders, community leaders, media and social media.
“My previous work while with Chesapeake Energy, was my entrance into the oil and gas industry. It was a wonderful place to learn about the industry, and in turn, educate the community and work with stakeholders in the region.
“STEER is an acronym for South Texas Energy & Economic Roundtable. Even though our name makes you think that we deal with livestock, we are an oil and gas industry association who serve as a bridge between the oil and gas industry and communities - to facilitate growth and educate on the industry and economic benefits. We educate in many ways, whether it’s education of the workforce or community development.”
The oil and natural gas industry is one of the most fundamental economic drivers in South Texas and its ability to prosper at optimal levels is enhanced by the support and guidance of the industry experts that make up the South Texas Energy & Economic Roundtable. Founding members are Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Chesapeake Energy, ConocoPhillips, EOG Resources, Lewis Energy Group, Marathon Oil, Murphy Oil Corporation, Pioneer Natural Resources Company, Shell Oil Company, Statoil and Talisman Energy.
“Steer was formed by eleven of the largest operators in the Eagle Ford as a forum, for these companies to discuss opportunities and issues across the Eagle Ford shale play. This way they can create a larger impact, by working together. That’s the premise of providing an atmosphere for meaningful conversation.
“At STEER, Omar Garcia, Chris Ashcraft and myself also serve as the external arm of the organization. We meet with city managers, county judges, superintendents from the school districts, colleges, industry representatives, Chambers of Commerce, and many others in the area.”
I asked Curry to address water issues and what STEER is doing in that direction.
She responded, “The recent drought has brought the water and energy conversation up front. Water and energy are both precious resources. Anything that our companies can do to lower or decrease the amount of water they use and/or reuse is important.
“It’s all about innovation and technology. Our companies place these two with safety as the highest priority. We have seen many increases in innovation around reducing the amount of water needed in operations. In South Texas, there are a growing number of reuse and recycling programs.
“During the last couple of years, some companies operating in the Eagle Ford have decreased their water use by thirty percent. We should see this trend to continue as companies figure out new ways to lower water usage and increase recycling programs.
Curry continued, “Other ways such as using alternatives to water, such as crosslink gels, in the hydraulic fracturing process are being tested, and can lower the amount of water needed.”
I asked Curry for an update on drilling operations such as one I did a story on in La Salle County, south of Dilley, where multiple wells were being drilled from one pad site.
Her response, “One of the big differences between the last time we spoke and now is that at the earlier period, most of the companies were still in the HBP phase. HBP means “held by production.” Companies were looking to hold the positions by drilling one well on that acreage.
“Now, most of them have moved into the pad drilling phase. Producers are going back to sites where they drilled one well and they’re drilling multiple wells at each site. This decreases truck traffic because rigs don’t have to be moved around as much.
Curry noted, “You’re also seeing a decrease in rigs but that doesn’t mean that there’s less investment in the area. That just means that the companies are drilling more efficiently. They drill a better well in less time, and in return, no not need to operate as many rigs. Again, that takes more trucks off the road.
“Efficiencies in innovation serve a lot of purposes. It’s reducing the amount of water while it’s lowering air emissions and lowering traffic on the road. That’s what these companies are working towards, to get better and stronger at what they do.”
I then asked Curry to comment on the lowering of time levels between drilling completions.
Curry said, “When I first started almost three years ago, I think the average was about twenty-eight days to drill a well, and now, that is significantly less, maybe half that time. Obviously, some drilling intervals are lower than that and some are higher, but on average we are seeing a decrease.
Curry continued, “STEER is also working on two programs. One is the Eagle Ford Excellence Award that we had in December. It’s the first and only one that honors companies and organizations working in South Texas. We gave awards to three categories: Community Involvement, Environmental Stewardship and Safety Performance.
“We broke down each category into over 250 employees or under 250 employees. In this inaugural year we had 28 submissions. Companies, large and small came to a table with the incredible work that they do day in and day out. The purpose of awards was to honor companies and recognize them for their efforts in the community, safety and environment.”
Curry added, “STEER’s judging panel was all 3rd party representatives from UTSA Economic Impact Study, AACOG and CPS Energy. There was a good turnout for the awards. About 270 people came. We look forward to opening up submissions for next year’s awards.”
Curry said, “STEER is also working on education and workforce development. Our Stakeholder Relations committee is working on educational packets to present at schools for all ages to educate on the industry, what careers are available at different levels, and also a safety program.
“The industry will continue to need that next workforce and would like to hire it from South Texas. If we can start early in training individuals on the different opportunities in the oil and gas industry, we are empowering our future workforce. Whether it’s after high school or a college degree, the oil and gas industry has many opportunities.
STEER is committed to being the leading educational resource relating to the oil and gas industry in South Texas and the liaison facilitating effective collaboration between industry, local officials, regional stakeholders, academia, area residents and community members.
The organization aims to ensure that activities and advancements in the industry are cultivated in a responsible and sustainable manner in order to positively progress the energy sector and economic development for communities in South Texas. They’re trying to train that workforce. For tomorrow, that’s their companies needs.
During her visit to Pleasanton, Curry conferred with Pleasanton City Manager, Bruce Pearson, and Earl Peterson,
Pleasanton Supervisor of Community Development Services.
Peterson asked, “Do you have industrial information on the Eagle Ford now, such as how many total wells there are.”
Curry answered, “Yes, those are in our presentations. We continually build that information library along with industry education and information.”
Bruce Pearson said, “I’ve been waiting for you to come and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. We have several things going on and we were going to contact you very soon, anyway.”
Among the items Pearson was referring to was the city’s desire for an extension to the length of the runway at the Pleasanton Municipal Airport. The city is currently working with TxDot Aviation regarding that matter.
Curry said, “As a representative of STEER, I want to open up the door of communications so whenever needs arise, we might be of help. Our role is to serve as a bridge between the industry and communities. At STEER, we engage with counties that are directly or indirectly related to the oil and gas industry.”
Along with Haley Curry, other representatives of STEER are Omar Garcia, President, and Christopher Ashcraft, Director of Stakeholder Relations.
Curry said, “I work with the media, of course, and am available for speaking engagements. We speak to chambers, superintendents of schools, Rotary Clubs - any organizations that are interested in hearing about the state of the Eagle Ford.”
LEON ZABAVA is the Oil and Gas Editor of the Pleasanton Express. He can be reached at 830.281.2341 or firstname.lastname@example.org