With national attention on the Dakota Access controversy, Pipeline & Gas Journal’s upcoming Pipeline Opportunities Conference will focus on the unprecedented challenges facing current and future construction projects in the industry.
The conference, now in its 13th year, will be held March 21, 2017 at the Omni Galleria Hotel in Houston. Jeff Share, Editor of P&GJ and founder of the meeting, said several well-known experts in the pipeline business will detail the issues that developers are being forced to contend with in order to get a project permitted and built. Don Santa, president and CEO of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA), and Andy Black, president and CEO of the Association of Oil Pipelines (AOPL), will share a panel to discuss the results of the 2016 general election and how that will likely affect pipelines and fossil fuel industry in general. They will also discuss news events that are impacting projects, now and in the future, and what actions the industry is taking to overcome these roadblocks.
Also leading a panel discussion on dealing with anti-pipeline activists will be Terri Larson, director of Public Affairs for Enbridge U.S. who also leads its crisis media training. Larson has been lauded by peers and community leaders for helping to lead Enbridge’s efforts in Michigan after a disastrous spill in 2010.
According to Share, President Obama’s rejection of the proposed Keystone Pipeline last fall and the growth of climate change as an environmental and political issue has led to a surge in opposition to fossil fuels and pipelines that are growing increasingly vocal and in some cases violent. What makes the issue even more alarming to the industry was the federal government’s recent decision to delay construction of certain parts of the Dakota Express pipeline until questions involving Native American rights are resolved. The government also suggested that future projects could be stopped even after construction starts, if it is decided that they may violate the National Energy Policy Act or don’t take into account the interests of Native Americans.
“The number of activists isn’t large, but they are well-organized and fed by a constant stream of misinformation from social media and certain biased news media,” Share said. “The oil industry has always been political in nature, but we never really saw much opposition to pipelines until recently. As the industry continues to move into more populated areas, especially on the East Coast, it only promises to get worse. There is a way to respond to these challenges, it’s not easy and does take time, but some companies are much better at it than others. They need to share that knowledge and that’s what our next conference will be about. If we don’t get this problem fixed, there will be fewer projects in the future as operators will prefer buying pipelines than building new ones, as we’re already seeing.”