Buckle in for the ride
As much of the world slowed to a halt in early 2020, many industries suddenly faced a new reality that shocked their business models and drastically changed projections for the year ahead. The oil and gas industry saw prices reach 30-year lows and an unprecedented drop in demand, with very few clues as to when the downturn will end and the long-term effects on the industry.
But many of those companies aren’t waiting to see what happens next—they’re already looking ahead. We sat down with Matt Gallagher ’05, president and CEO of Parsley Energy, to talk about how oil and gas companies can overcome the COVID-19 crisis and lead an energy future in such unprecedented times.
How do you think companies in your industry can recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Matt Gallagher: I think we have to look at it from a whole new perspective and refresh the business models. We need to deliver steady profits and recognize that over the past four decades, we’ve been in a volatile industry. We need to always be prepared for a future shock. I think we have to run very focused on our cost structure, being the fact that we do produce a commodity, and at the same time, we have to lean on collaboration and technology and use those to our benefit.
How do you begin to adjust to a sudden new normal and come out ahead?
Gallagher: Although our approaches might change, if we double down on our values and our principles, I think we’ll stay out front as a leader. We’re providing affordable, reliable energy to the masses, helping better the way of life for many every day.
How might the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic be seen as an age of opportunity for oil and gas to lead the next steps in our energy future?
Gallagher: It highlights just how important our industry and our products are. The N95 mask is made with extruded plastic fibers that are saving millions of lives, as long as we can manufacture them quickly enough. [The pandemic] has highlighted how challenging it is to see family and loved ones without air travel and what our products can truly provide. It’s really an opportunity to recognize how important it is, and at the same time, from our industry, to recognize we’ve got to look at it with a different lens and be more aggressive in achieving our environmental, social and corporate governance goals.
What do you think someone needs to be successful in the oil and gas industry today?
Gallagher: To a certain degree, resilience. This is a volatile industry, and this COVID-19 situation has magnified the volatility, but we know these things are coming. You have to buckle in for the ride in this industry—you have to keep your head up during the down times and not run too fast during the high times. Resilience, creativity and a little bit of optimism.