The “New Normal” From an AEG Energy Leader’s Perspective

How many “new normals” are there going to be? The energy industry already has seen its fair share. We’ve seen a horizontal drilling boom bell curve that turned into a managed, fiscally responsible straight line (not really a bust, but more of a recession); renewable energy incentives that have come and gone; countries flooding the world market with cheap oil and gas (that’s a bust); and now we are facing a worldwide health pandemic. But, from this broad list of changes to the many that transpired in between, we have learned that one thing is certain: Change is inevitable, and “normal” will continually be preceded by “new.”

So, what does our most recent new normal look like from an energy perspective?

Energy is fully recognized as an essential service. We in the profession have always known that the world is dependent on energy, but we were in the shadows. We have been OK with that role, keeping our heads down and working hard to provide this vital resource. But people are now more aware of its necessity and realize how important infrastructure is for basic economic development and survival. We industry professionals should feel a sense of pride in this newfound appreciation and be aware of the spotlight in which we now find ourselves.

Safety is being discussed in every family room in addition to the worksite. Energy personnel are well-trained and equipped to safely perform their jobs. When in doubt, they employ their stop-work authority. Now, in addition to businesses and professionals, private citizens are discussing how to safely socialize when they leave their homes. We are all more aware of our surroundings and in identifying potential threats. The importance of safety is no longer solely an industry objective.

The triple bottom line—people, planet, profit—and social responsibility. There are extremely difficult decisions being made regarding work/life balance. Although we all need to work to support ourselves and our families, everyone has a different situation. We need to be supportive and understanding of each other. Events around the world, from COVID-19 to large-scale changes in foreign oil, impact us as individuals. Our country is big and powerful, but the world is bigger. We must think bigger. The importance of profit—the pillar that never seems to lose the spotlight—must be balanced with people and the planet as part of our social responsibility.

As we work together to navigate this pandemic as a world, a nation, an industry and individuals, there is one thing I am sure of: As soon as we get comfortable, there will be another uncomfortable new normal. My advice is to adjust and keep moving forward as best we can. Live, manage and grow through this adversity. And always remember, you are not alone.

If you don’t agree please remember, we all reserve the right to get smarter every day, including myself. I would love to hear your opinions and feedback. Sharing best practices will only help us advance together.

Mike Battles

Mike Battles is a fourth-generation oil and gas professional with experience in all aspects of the industry, including exploration and production, midstream, transmission and distribution, renewables, mining and government relations. Mike applies an entrepreneurial spirit and natural leadership skills to lead Woolpert’s energy market. He has been with the firm for 21 years.