Oil And Gas Industry Helps To Battle Food, Protective Equipment Shortages Amidst COVID-19 Crisis
Oil and gas companies and industry trade associations continue to lean in with support for communities struggling to combat the coronavirus crisis in states across the West.
With economic conditions deteriorating and jobless claims in the millions in just under a month’s time, food scarcity has quickly become an issue for many families. Local food banks have been inundated with requests for help, seeing spikes in demand for emergency food boxes.
The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association’s donated a combined $50,000 to eight New Mexico non-profits to help to fill the immediate gap in providing much-needed food resources. They include grants to The Food Depot, Rio Grande Food Project, and Northwest New Mexico Seniors.
“Through the funding generously provided by NMOGA, it is a brighter day for many homebound seniors in San Juan County,” said Susan Steinhoff Smith, Interim Executive Director, Northwest New Mexico Seniors. “With close to sixty homebound seniors on a waiting list for close to a year, your gift has not only made our work easier, it has lifted our community. Being on the other side of the phone and letting a senior know we can deliver a meal to their door everyday makes my heart happy.”
Companies are also contributing. Chevron donated to efforts combating the fallout of the COVID-19 crisis, with $230,000 going to non-profits within the Permian Basin in New Mexico and Texas in late March.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented and evolving crisis that necessitates a community-wide response. Whether it’s an individual doing their part to social distance, a teacher facilitating tele-learning from their home, or a healthcare worker on the front lines, we want to say thank you to our Permian heroes. Chevron is proud to do our part,” said Nathan Carroll, Chevron Operations Superintendent based in Carlsbad, New Mexico.
The money will go to the West Texas Food Bank and the Eddy and Lea County United Ways for food and housing security.
“This donation comes at a time when our agency is going full throttle to fulfill our mission of meeting community needs, whether they be senior citizen meals, food for children and families, housing insecurity, and more. We see a long road ahead, and we can’t thank Chevron enough for this vital support,” said Linda Dodd, executive director of the Eddy County United Way.
ExxonMobil has helped to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) research and prototyping after employee Justin Sink came upon a plea from a friend on social media.
“In fairness, this has all come together faster than I anticipated. About a week ago, we were nowhere. In a short time, we went from zero to a network of willing partners. This initiative quickly went from design to prototype to being on the cusp of mass production,” Sink said.
Sink heard the call by medical professionals, including his friend, for PPE like face shields and reusable masks, critical not only to help those suffering from the virus by enabling medical staff to continue their care, but to reassure that the same medical employees would have adequate protection to prevent their own infection.
“When I first saw the call for help, I knew our plastics business had the right manufacturing contacts to help get things going. We forged connections between manufacturers and medical professionals who’d never have found each other on their own, and brought in our production and supply chain expertise, too,” Sink said.
“Things snowballed from there,” he added.
To trap the COVID-19 virus before it infects others, especially critical care physicians, nurses, and support staff, PPE gear of the highest quality must be available, and with so many governments across the world and medical workers clamoring for such gear—not to mention the broader public’s demand as well—a mask shortage quickly developed in the first part of 2020.
Marathon donated nearly 10,000 coveted N95 masks to University Medical Center of El Paso and El Paso County Children’s Hospital, and nearly 500,000 masks and gloves in total since late March. It also added $1 million for the Red Cross disaster relief.
ExxonMobil has also given $100,000 to the Carlsbad Municipal School District to aid with online learning as schools in the region have shut down and remote learning relying on internet connectivity has hit low-income students without internet access. It will also provide laptops to students.
“Carlsbad’s schools and teachers need support and encouragement during these difficult times,” said Staale Gjervik, senior vice president at ExxonMobil Upstream Oil and Gas Company and president of XTO Energy. “We hope our contribution will help facilitate the transition to online learning during this period and ease the burden on families and the schools.”