Oil and Gas Industry Boosts Community Support During Coronavirus Crisis
As the coronavirus crisis deepens throughout the United States, the oil and natural gas industry across the West is working to support local communities struggling with economic and health challenges.
In Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana, industry trade associations and companies have fundraised for food banks, donated funds to those in need, and provided STEM educational content for students and teachers who are at home.
The charitable and community efforts are ramping up as economists forecast massive spikes in unemployment claims and rapidly falling economic output as “social distancing” precautious continue to be implemented across the country.
According to state data, Colorado has been the hardest-hit state in the West by far with 1,086 confirmed coronavirus cases. This has prompted a sharp response from government leaders in an effort to slow the spread of the virus that’s had severe economic effects.
The state has limited public gathers to 10 or fewer people and shut down restaurants, bars, hair salons, retail shops, and other businesses, while companies throughout the state have had employees work from home even before Gov. Jared Polis ordered on Sunday that non-essential employers reduce their in-person workforce by 50% and then issued a “stay at home” directive on Wednesday.
To help meet the economic fallout, the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA) started a “donor drive” to encourage industry employees to donate to Food Bank of the Rockies. In just over a week, they’ve raised more than $5,000.
COGA President and CEO Dan Haley told Western Wire this is way to support neighbors and friends.
“We wanted to give oil and gas employees an opportunity to be empowered, to stand up and help our neighbors and friends in their times of need,” Haley said. “Food Bank of the Rockies posted on their Facebook page earlier this week that they expected to take a multi-million dollar hit over this. It made sense to organize a quick fundraiser for this organization that provides nutrition and food across the state but also in the areas where oil and gas employees live and work.
“The generosity of the men and women of this industry never ceases to amaze me,” Haley continued.
With Congress poised to pass a relief package that will send cash assistance to Americans, the Montana Petroleum Association said it is asking members who are financially stable to distribute the money they receive to support community efforts.
Alan Olson, the organization’s executive director, told Western Wire he’ll be encouraging leaders to “share at least half of that with essential non-profit organizations like food banks and Meals on Wheels.”
“Even though things are tough in our industry, things are a lot worse for other people out there,” Olson continued. “We’re all in this together.”
The Petroleum Association of Wyoming is working with member companies to assist with much-needed healthcare supplies. The organization is encouraging donations of materials that can be used in the medical field and ingredients derived from oil and gas to help make hand sanitizer and sanitizing solutions.
As schools have closed and kids are homebound, special efforts are being made to bolster educational resources. The Science Zone is a non-profit in Wyoming promoting science education and is producing a “Daily Dose of Science” video that students can watch to stay engaged while out of school.
Enbridge, a Canadian-based energy delivery company with assets throughout the American West, and other companies are sponsoring The Science Zone’s work so the videos can be made available for free on YouTube.
Steven Schnell, the Executive Director of The Science Zone said the goal is to produce “light and fun, but accurate content so that students are learning and being entertained at the same time.” Schnell also said he and his colleagues are also producing other learning materials so the “video isn’t where it stops.”
Colorado-based Great Western Petroleum has been a longtime partner with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and top company official said that they’re committed to supporting the program and the community during the coronavirus crisis.
“Great Western has been partners with Make-A-Wish [Foundation] for many years, we love the work that they do for the state of Colorado,” said Susan Fakharzadeh, Vice President of Corporate Communications and Government Affairs. “For a Colorado-born, Colorado-built operator, it’s really important to us that our social investments reflect back into the communities where we live and work and operate, because it’s our homes, families, and neighbors too.”
“It’s a really good fit for us when we develop these strategic partnerships, we don’t want to just write and show up with the proverbial giant check and call it done. We really want to be involved,” Fakharzadeh continued.