This week’s Pipeliners Podcast episode features first-time guest Tony Straquadine, the Executive Director of the INGAA Foundation, discussing how the INGAA Foundation is serving the natural gas industry through advocacy, stakeholder engagement, and collaborative programs.
In this episode, you will learn about the difference between the INGAA Foundation and INGAA, the various programs that INGAA Foundation has worked on and is working on to support the natural gas industry, how the current U.S. government administration is affecting the outlook for the industry, how pipeline professionals can get involved in supporting the industry, and more valuable topics.
INGAA Foundation: Show Notes, Links, and Insider Terms
- Tony Straquadine is the Executive Director of the INGAA Foundation. Connect with Tony on LinkedIn.
- INGAA (Interstate Natural Gas Association of America) is a trade organization that advocates regulatory and legislative positions of importance to the natural gas pipeline industry in North America.
- INGAA Foundation advances natural gas pipeline infrastructure through analysis, dialogue, and collaboration with vendors and other stakeholders to support the full value chain.
- Advocacy Alliance is a Foundation program that works on public outreach helping members from various demographics and generations see the value of the natural gas industry. This is an extension of the INGAA Foundation’s Public Policy and Communications Committee.
- Access the referenced INGAA Foundation whitepaper from May 2019, “The Role of Natural Gas in the Transition to a Lower-Carbon Economy.”
- Access the referenced INGAA Foundation infrastructure outlook report from June 2018, “North America Midstream Infrastructure through 2035: Significant Development Continues.”
- Access the referenced INGAA Foundation whitepaper from December 2020/January 2021, “North American Midstream Infrastructure: A Near Term Update Through 2025.”
- Access all public reports through the INGAA Foundation website at INGAA.org.
- Access the INGAA policy statement on their carbon neutral position, “2021 Vision Forward: Addressing Climate Change Together.”
- API 1169 (Pipeline Construction Inspection) focuses on the basic inspector requirements needed to inspect new onshore pipelines in a safe and reliable manner. Applicants can qualify in one or more of these categories: Pipeline Inspection Experience, General Oil & Gas Industry Inspection Experience, Non-Inspection Pipeline Experience, Non-Inspection General Oil & Gas Industry Experience, and Other Heavy Industry Experience.
- PHMSA (Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration) is the federal agency within USDOT responsible for providing pipeline safety oversight through regulatory rulemaking, NTSB recommendations, and other important functions to protect people and the environment through the safe transportation of energy and other hazardous materials.
- FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) regulates, monitors, and investigates electricity, natural gas, hydropower, oil matters, natural gas pipelines, LNG terminals, hydroelectric dams, electric transmission, energy markets, and pricing.
- AGA (American Gas Association) represents companies delivering natural gas safely, reliably, and in an environmentally responsible way to help improve the quality of life for their customers every day. AGA’s mission is to provide clear value to its membership and serve as the indispensable, leading voice and facilitator on its behalf in promoting the safe, reliable, and efficient delivery of natural gas to homes and businesses across the nation.
- ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) refers to the sustainability movement in oil and gas to continue operating safely, in compliance, and in a responsible manner to do no harm while achieving business objectives.
INGAA Foundation: Full Episode Transcript
Russel Treat: Welcome to the Pipeliners Podcast, episode 182, sponsored by P.I. Confluence, providing software and implementation expertise for pipeline program governance applied to operations, Pipeline Safety Management, and compliance, using process management software to connect program to implementation. Find out more about P.I. Confluence at piconfluence.com.
Announcer: The Pipeliners Podcast where professionals, Bubba geeks, and industry insiders share their knowledge and experience about technology, projects, and pipeline operations. Now your host, Russel Treat.
Russel: Thanks for listening to the Pipeliners Podcast. I appreciate that you’re taking the time. To show the appreciation, we give away a customized YETI tumbler to one listener each episode.
This week, our winner is Jonathan Determan with Elevate Midstream. Congratulations, Jonathan. Your YETI is on its way. To learn how you could win this signature prize, stick around until the end of the episode.
This week, our guest is Tony Straquadine from the INGAA Foundation. We’re going to learn about INGAA, INGAA Foundation, and what they’re all about. Tony, welcome to the Pipeliners Podcast.
Tony Straquadine: Thank you, Russel. It’s an honor to visit with you today, and I’m glad we had the opportunity to connect.
Russel: Listen. Before we dive in, maybe you could tell us a little bit about your background and your role at INGAA, the INGAA Foundation, and how you came to find yourself in that role.
Tony: Great. Thank you, Russel. I’m Tony Straquadine. I currently serve as the executive director for the INGAA Foundation. I have over 40 years of upstream and midstream oil and gas industry experience.
Prior to joining the INGAA Foundation back in 2018, I spent 19 years with an interstate natural gas pipeline operator where we transported gas with an attitude from British Columbia and Alberta to the Chicago Market Hub. My background is I’ve got a bachelor’s degree in geology and geophysics from the University of Hawaii.
Russel: Geology and geophysics from the University of Hawaii. You’ve got to be interested in volcanoes.
Tony: Volcanoes drove my interest in the oil and gas industry. It was from there, plus my early growing up in New Mexico.
Russel: How do you get from volcanoes to pipelining?
Tony: It was called a career opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. It was a great experience, learned a lot, and helped to grow a great company at the time.
Russel: Great. Look, let’s dive in. What is the INGAA Foundation? I’m going to tee this up a little bit because I’ve always been a little bit confused between what is INGAA, what is the INGAA Foundation, and how are they related?
That’s always been a bit of an obstacle for me in terms of understanding that organization and how to be engaged with it. Probably not for others, but it is for me.
Tony: You’re not unique in those questions, in that INGAA’s an interesting word, in that we obviously use a five-letter acronym to describe a company, in the case of INGAA, which is the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, which is a trade association, not for profit based in Washington, D.C. that represents the pipeline operators — the interstate natural gas pipeline operators in particular. There’s 26 member companies that make up INGAA. They focus on advocacy and outreach to regulators and legislators on natural gas pipeline-related issues, permitting, operational challenges, etc.
The INGAA Foundation, interestingly, was created by INGAA back in 1990 when they sat down and said, “We’ve got a whole different segment of the industry, the full value chain that creates our projects, builds our pipes, helps us to operate and maintain.” And that’s how the INGAA Foundation was created.
We represent that full value chain of the industry, which includes most of the pipeline operators that are INGAA members but also the service providers; those engineering companies; those pipe manufacturers; those service providers that make up the balance of our industry that create or support the permitting aspects, the design, the construction, the fabrication, and all aspects from there, the consulting world, the legal space, all those related to the North American natural gas transmission and storage system.
The Foundation, while we’re a standalone as a not-for-profit trade association, we focus primarily on delivering value to our industry from timely and high-valued information and analysis reports, if you will. We’ll also develop workshops for our members to help keep them best informed and engaged. We do other things, develop guidelines.
You had a recent show on the Recommended Practice 1169 on pipeline construction inspectors. The INGAA Foundation was core to developing those initial guidelines and working with API to actually get that developed as a certification program. By the way, there’s over 8,000 pipeline inspectors that are now certified through that API program that API continues to maintain in support of the industry.
Russel: Let me try to replay that and just to try to simplify. You said a lot about the INGAA Foundation, what it does. If I understand this correctly, INGAA came first, and it was an association of operators.
Then INGAA saw the need for a place for the vendors to participate and thence the Foundation was created. The Foundation’s primary mission is around doing analysis and reports that benefit the entire industry?
Tony: Yes, that’s a quick summary. Our formal mission is we facilitate the safe, efficient, reliable, and environmentally responsible design, construction, operations, and maintenance of the North American natural gas transmission system to advance the delivery of natural gas for the benefit of the consuming public, the economy, and the environment.
We don’t lobby as far as the Foundation as an organization. We simply work to develop information, do studies, produce white papers that are generally pretty highly in demand based on the data we can develop and deliver, and ultimately serve our members at the end of the day.
Russel: How, if at all, is the INGAA mission different than the INGAA Foundation mission?
Tony: The INGAA mission is focused on the advocacy and regulatory influence impacts on the industry. They take a direct outreach to the government, if you will, under our First Amendment rights to be able to redress our grievances.
Russel: I’ve done some podcasts about that. I think one of the things interesting about our industry is how the whole regulatory process works. It’s advanced high school civics, right?
Russel: When you participate in that stuff, it gives you some faith and confidence in our government systems in terms of how we hash things out when we’re dealing with things we’re going to do when we get out of the political noise of D.C. and into the reality of actually doing things.
Anyways, without that aside, where I was going is, INGAA is the operators. Its mission is more around interacting with the regulators and that type of thing. Then the Foundation is more about operations and interacting with how we operate.
Tony: How we operate, what we can do better, where we see the outlook and some of the opportunities for us, and as we’ll talk about, I hope, on the infrastructure studies we’ve produced in the past and were recognized for, some of the elements of what’s coming.
You mentioned lower carbon focus in our economy. We did a study that we released in 2019 on that topic. We look at different ways in which our collective industry can add value and support the INGAA mission and objectives.
Annually, we meet as two organizations together to try and understand what’s driving the operators, what are their concerns and issues, and how does the Foundation help to support that? How do those operators help to support where the Foundation’s trying to go?
Russel: Again, I’m just trying to set it in my mind in a way I can anchor it and keep it. I do better if it’s simple. That helps me. INGAA is operators and regulatory advocacy, and Foundation is vendors and operations advocacy?
Russel: I guess that’s the way I would frame it. Maybe that’s overly simplistic, but it makes it clear why the distinct two groups.
Tony: We’ve also been called the research arm, if you will, of the Interstate Natural Gas Industry as we’ll develop those papers, or those ideas, or looking at what the current challenges are.
We’ve also done things like a pipeline integrity technology showcase where we brought in some of our vendors that produce those inline inspection tools, those smart pigs, and had them bring them into Capitol Hill to one of the house office buildings to showcase.
“Hey, this is what a pig is. This is what we talk about when we inspect our pipelines and want to help educate you, your staff, as well as the regulators. We had folks from PHMSA and a few FERC staff come in to see those tools to really get a sense of not only what they were, but let’s show you examples of the data we collect and what that tells us about the integrity and the safety of the pipes we operate.”
Russel: How is INGAA different than AGA?
Tony: Again, the INGAA Foundation is, we serve the interstate natural gas industry interests. AGA, American Gas Association, is really that trade association for those local distribution companies. INGAA is the interstate.
We take it from the supply basin to the city gate. AGA companies pick it up at the city gate, deliver it to the business or the home, regulates, and takes care of all that elements down in the low-pressure side.
Russel: That distinction’s actually pretty straightforward because the issues that the utilities have, the local distribution companies have, are quite different than the issues that the high-pressure interstate transmission companies have.
Tony: Yes, and a lot more miles of pipe, and smaller diameters, lower pressures. Obviously, the interstate folks, we’re the interstate highway system equivalent for natural gas. We don’t own the gas by regulation.
We transport it for a fee, again, from that producer at the wellhead to ultimately the city gate. We don’t profit from the swings in the commodity markets of natural gas itself. We’re just a service provider or, as I’ve always termed it, a long truck.
Russel: I really appreciate this conversation, Tony, because I think for the first time, I understand the distinctions between INGAA, INGAA Foundation, and AGA.
Tony: That’s good.
Russel: I think I have it clear in a way I’ll probably remember. Hopefully, I won’t be the only one that listens to this podcast that has that as an outcome.
Tony: There you go. The fact that we all play in the same sandbox of oil and gas, we’re highly related in many cases, or we’ll work together on a variety of different topics and issues.
Russel: Sure. There’s certainly lots of things that happen that are of mutual interest, for sure. Let’s talk a little bit about the work of the Foundation. What kind of work has the INGAA Foundation done?
Tony: Annually, we get together with our members and try and have ideas develop from that membership. I’ve got a great staff of four others joining me at the Foundation, but I also argue we’re not bright enough to what are those current issues that are timely and impactful that we need to work on.
Our members bring ideas to us, and we develop then and approve ultimately a series of projects, workshops, white papers, or other efforts, collaborations that we might do the following year through our funding.
Some of the things we have focused on is an infrastructure outlook report. We typically do those infrastructure reports looking at a 20-year timeline, looking ahead to what’s the supply and demand balance, if you will, and what does that then drive for an expectation on infrastructure? What kind of new facilities are you going to need?
Our typical program that we’ve done in that infrastructure report, again, a 20-year outlook, is looking at the full cycle of oil, gas, as well as natural gas liquids infrastructure requirements.
When we last published that report in June of 2018, the outcome by our consultants that did the analysis was the U.S. and Canada would require over $800 billion in natural gas, oil, and NGL infrastructure investments over the time period 2018 to 2035.
Clearly, that’s a big number, hard to break down. They do a relatively good job, I think, in trying to do that. Specifically, too, again our natural gas interests and our industry sector, $417 billion of expected new infrastructure was required or average $23 billion a year.
That was in 2018 that we had that look ahead. We are planning probably over the next year and a half or so to once again approve the next 20-year infrastructure look ahead.
Russel: We’ve had a relatively material change in the outlook in the last 18 months, for sure.
Tony: That’s for sure. Obviously, policy from the current administration drives a lot of uncertainty.
An example of the flexibility of what the Foundation does was in 2020. During the March timeframe with the onset of the pandemic coupled with the oil price disruption or shock — if you remember, oil went to a negative value for a few days — we commissioned an infrastructure-type report that we looked ahead for five years. We took into consideration the concerns of the oil price disruption that was really a creation of the Sauds and the Russians feuding over pricing. Add into that, we’re suddenly in a global pandemic, COVID-19, we all know and love. Factor into that additionally is the various protests around new projects and the delays that that’s being factored into. You want to build infrastructure, it’s going to take you longer than perhaps we’ve expected in the past. That was a five-year look ahead.
In January of 2021, we published that report specifically and found that we expect demand is going to rebound for natural gas. We included the outlook for LNG exports as well. In fact, we saw LNG exports drop during 2020 third quarter and then rebound in the fourth quarter, and it continued to show strong export capacity for the LNG side of things.
We continue to look at what’s happening in that short-term infrastructure market. But again, the COVID pandemic, we think the rebound is underway or continuing for demand of natural gas.
That infrastructure report, in particular, factored in the market for natural gas, which is residential, commercial, industrial needs, as well as the power generation side, and recognizing that under the power gen, we believe and we have an additional study that will speak to the demand for natural gas as you see more and more renewable penetration in the electric generation market.
In other words, we term it as natural gas becomes that foundational fuel that enables more renewable electric generation to hit the market. The reason for that is the reliability of natural gas delivery that allows for that resiliency in the generation market.
Russel: That’s actually an interesting conversation, given the cold snap that we had earlier this year and some of the learnings that came out of that where if you’re going to build that renewable infrastructure, you better make sure it’s resilient enough to operate when you need it.
One of the challenges with natural gas as a base fuel is, how far down the chain do you push it? You can only scale it back up or surge it within whatever its constraints are.
Tony: That’s part of our ongoing outlook on how does the market respond to obviously additional renewables? What does that mean for our pipeline operators that generally deliver gas on an average daily basis into the market or under a specific delivery point?
If you have sudden surges in demand for that gas for power gen, as an example, you create what I term that golf ball in the garden hose. How do you get that capacity to serve that market needs at that time? There’s the whole underlying question of how is the commercial metrics managed through the gas pipeline’s tariffs? What does the regulator allow? How do you take care of all that?
Russel: Yeah, absolutely. These INGAA Foundation reports, are they available to the public or only available to the INGAA Foundation members?
Tony: Many of the reports and certainly, the infrastructure reports I spoke to are available to the public. They’re available through our website at ingaa.org. There’s an INGAA Foundation tab within that. We do share a website with INGAA to make it even more confusing.
Tony: We are closely related. We co-office with INGAA as well. These reports are available to the public, and we also do generally a press release. Historically, with our infrastructure 20-year lookaheads, we’ve done press briefings here in Washington, D.C. just to announce what our findings are and what our study means.
Russel: Cool. We’ll link that up in the show notes for the listeners if they want to go looking for that, so there’ll be a way for people to find that. I think you mentioned the new administration. Earlier this week, the week that we’re recording this, I attended via a screen share the PHMSA meeting on leak detection, leak repair, and emission reduction.
Certainly, the whole low carbon/low emission issue is primary for this administration. It’s clear in the executive orders, and it’s also clear in the administrative response throughout the various agencies. How do you see that impacting the outlook?
Tony: It’s a challenge for us on how you assume — the policy statements are there. I agree it’s interesting watching this administration take a “whole of government” approach. You didn’t know that low carbon policy was important to the Department of Interior or even Health and Human Services. They’re all taking this seriously as, “What’s our action plan?”
I, too, listened in on part of the PHMSA methane and leak detection efforts overall. The challenge for us will be simply, “How do we as an industry step up to minimize or mitigate both our leaks and any future emissions while still meeting the market demands?” especially if you factor in the concern that natural gas is required to backstop or allow for greater and greater renewable electric generation penetration.
We also don’t see the residential and perhaps commercial markets making a transition to a lower-carbon fuel than what natural gas currently serves. That’s largely due to the infrastructure. There’s going to need to be upgrades to the electric grid to electrify my home heating when I used to live in Minnesota, as an example.
Russel: I wouldn’t want to be in Minnesota with electric heat. I’m just saying.
Tony: That’s the concern. We haven’t done any work specifically on taking where the administration’s position is — how do we get there? I know INGAA as a trade association has come out with a new policy statement that will provide — they’ll get to a neutral carbon position in the future. Currently, we will look at some of the studies, options, or opportunities going forward on, “What does this mean for our industry?”
Russel: I think the operators are also going to be looking at this from a standpoint of, “What does it mean from a safety perspective, and how do we utilize and deploy our resources in a way to — we can’t reduce our safety effectiveness by chasing low carbon, right?”
Tony: As a former, a recovering operator, as I’ve mentioned to you in the past.
Russel: Recovering operator. [laughs] I’m quoting you on that one, Tony. I’m capturing that and calling it my own.
Tony: Go for it. The key focus of our industry has always been safety is our number one priority. Having, again, been working for a high-pressure natural gas pipeline that crossed three provinces, four states, delivering high BTU energy into the market, ultimately, that was our first priority. We didn’t compromise on that. Everything we did focused around, “How do we do this safely?” followed by, “How can we do it efficiently and serving our ultimate markets?”
Russel: There’s going to be a lot of interesting work in the operators as they look at their operating plans about, “How do we implement some of this new stuff and make it work in conjunction with those things we’re already doing without having to spool up a whole new program?”
Tony: Right, and you’ve heard about some of the operators that are now taking and publicizing their transport of renewable natural gas sources that are capturing methane from landfills or agricultural operations, things like that that can be added in safely into our systems.
The next evolution may be a hydrogen blending. There’s questions on that relative to how do you do that safely, what’s the commercial construct for that, and then, ultimately, how do you match up to those producers or those shippers because, again, the pipelines don’t own the product that somebody pays to transport it on our system.
Russel: That’s right. The whole hydrogen thing, I’ve just been starting to read about that. To me, hydrogen holds a huge amount of promise, for sure, but the actual, “How do we actually make this commercial and safe?” Those questions are fairly large in my mind.
Tony: Yes. Then the other aspect if we accept that we have to continue some level of reliable energy to produce electricity, as an example, natural gas as a backstop until we get to that hydrogen economy, is there new carbon capture and sequestration or systems?
Do we look at a potential repeat/reverse flow on a new carbon dioxide interstate transport system? There are some opportunities there because if you look at “Where’s your holes in the ground, that’s in the reservoirs and the production areas today? Could we store carbon there that’s been captured?” Sure, we could. It’s a matter of getting there.
Russel: Well, there’s people doing that now. That has been around in production operators for over 30 years.
Tony: Yes. The challenge, though, it’s not been on the commercial scale that we would likely need to have a net-neutral economy. We have to reduce carbon, recognizing that some carbon consumption or production will still happen that’s not captured.
Russel: The forest needs some carbon dioxide, or you’ll starve them.
Tony: That’s true.
Russel: [laughs] These remarks are not sanctioned by pretty much anybody. [laughs] What other things does that the Foundation do? What other kinds of things are you guys offering to the industry to support the mission?
Tony: The other things we do or have done is, as an example, with the onset of the COVID pandemic, there was some amount of press and publicity that were anti-pipelines that essentially put the tagline out there, “This is invasion by contagion.” In other words, these projects are still continuing to build and operate, and they’re bringing in these workers on these projects exposing us all to this horrible disease.
We stepped up as an association with our members driving the ideas and developed COVID guidelines on how you can safely continue to operate and construct, maintain your systems while observing the proper PPE, personal protective equipment, for preventions, whether that’s masks or gloves, hygiene, circumstances, social distancing, all those.
We published those guidelines based on recommendations by both the Centers for Disease Control or CDC, as well as OSHA, our safety regulator, and shared that with all of our member companies that implemented those various procedures.
We’ve also applied those procedures to two member meetings that we’ve done since COVID. In November of last year, we had a meeting in Naples, Florida that we observed full PPE as well as COVID guidelines during that meeting, as well as we just completed a meeting in San Antonio in April with no exposure to COVID based on the way we conducted ourselves including the health screenings overall.
We’re proud of the fact we developed that procedure, and we walked the talk in meetings we host for our members. We make sure that people are observing and are being safe as far as how we best minimize the transmission of this disease.
Russel: Awesome. It’s interesting. These things we do in our business, they take years and years for us to develop, but there’s a lot that was done in very short order related to COVID to be able to continue to operate and do so safely, not just for the customers but for the actual people doing the work.
Tony: Yes, sir. We’ve shared those procedures that we had with both our regulators at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as well as with the Department of Transportation Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration or PHMSA just so they know, “Here’s how the industry is approaching this.” We are striving to be safe while we continue those operations.
Russel: That’s awesome. When we were preparing for this, Tony, you talked about the new ESG workshop. Talk to us about. What is ESG, and what is the ESG workshop? I think ESG is a big deal. It’s got some big promise, a big opportunity for the industry, but it’s a different way of thinking about things. Maybe, you can talk a little bit about that.
Tony: This was a member-driven request that we put together what started as a workshop, obviously, in the pre-COVID days that evolved to be a webinar. We offered an overview driven by our members bringing in their individual expertise from their companies, their entities in the collective interest of the full value chain of our industry to present the environmental, social, and governance principles that drive ESG.
It was the intro to environmental social governance, the reporting, and tools that are available for that today. Why are people doing it? What’s happening with it overall? With the environmental social governance, we had a great turnout to observe that. We got feedback from that group to be able to learn from those tools, those ideas, those concerns, what’s driving it.
Many of the pipeline operators have an ESG report that they publish annually, or it’s also called a sustainability report. Many people have done in the past.
Russel: People are probably more familiar with that word sustainability than ESG.
Tony: Yes. ESG has got a variety of different options on, how do you measure, and what are your commitments on each of those areas, whether it’s the environment, whether it’s your social aspect of what your business and company does, or what’s the governance side of how you apply, in our case, our bylaws?
How do we live up to those with our board of directors, and follow through on our obligations? It was a great start for us to learn and expose all of our service operators because you got to remember we’ve got folks between individual companies that have a mom-and-pop setup to the large operators, the large construction or engineering firms, all of those.
With that in mind, it’s was a great start for us. We are going to do an additional modular of that webinar as well.
Russel: Tony, the whole ESG conversation, like I was saying, I think it’s a big conversation. It’s awesome that you guys are building workshops because the level of knowledge and understanding about what environmental social governance is and how that’s going to get manifested, it’s pretty, pretty young in our business.
Tony: Yes, it’s an evolving topic. Some companies are more sophisticated and how they deal with this. But, again, we’re trying to build or make tools available to our members so they can best understand it and recognize what they might choose to do to adapt to those.
Russel: Sure. What are you guys doing around tribal relations?
Tony: We’ve hosted two workshops in the past where we go to a tribal facility, engage with members of the tribal community, and talk about this is how and why, and the permitting aspects behind natural gas pipeline transmission.
It’s one in which we try to engage with those tribal members to develop a bit of a relationship so they have a better understanding of what we do and our industry by bringing our members together to engage during those workshops to learn more about the tribal concerns and issues, as well as obviously, we’ve experienced their culture and value what they bring to the discussion itself.
We’ve done two of those sessions. Three years ago was the first one. Two years ago was the last one. Obviously, the impact of the COVID onset prevented us from doing a workshop in 2020. We did a charitable contribution to try and recognize the challenges that some of the tribal groups that we had worked with were facing.
Now, we’re planning for our next tribal workshop to actually be a virtual session here in 2021, but it’s trying to engage with those tribal members that have experience or have oil and gas activities or infrastructure nearby them and sit down for a way in which we learn about them, they learn about us, and we get to develop that engagement aspect overall.
Russel: That’s a huge, huge thing. It’s a huge thing. What’s the biggest thing that the INGAA Foundation is working on at the moment?
Tony: One of the biggest ones is our program that we’ve launched for our members called Advocacy Alliance. If you remember, at the start of our discussion, the Foundation does not provide advocacy or lobbying directly ourselves. We encourage our members to reach out to members of Congress, or their state assemblies, or their local politicians to talk about and speak to the value of oil and gas, the jobs we create the infrastructure, the reliability, all those elements.
We put together a program where we’re encouraging our members to utilize existing materials, messages that are developed, and share those with those local, or state, or federal politicians. Understand that it’s the value of bringing our voices collectively together, because in many cases, the operators are doing that outreach now.
The fact is the service providers that build those pipeline systems that provide the consulting services or other tools and special materials or equipment usually have many times the number of folks working on these projects than the operator ultimately does. It’s amplifying our messages in support of our industry.
A part of that Advocacy Alliance has been developing an ambassador program to empower individual employees for those member companies to understand, “How can I better explain what I do? I don’t work for a pipeline or a construction company. I safely ensure the delivery of natural gas to your home each and every day.” Change the context of what we do and how we do it, and why that’s important to our overall collective and our economic well-being in this nation.
We can also talk about the fact that we support and help to enable that export of low carbon natural gas to the evolving world or as LNG, if you will, cargoes to replace other more carbon-intense applications. It’s a way in which we’re helping to enable and empower our members to speak on behalf of the industry they support and they work for overall.
Russel: That’s awesome. Certainly, the idea of getting the business community that supports the operators more involved in advocacy. A lot of times, people don’t understand how broad the impact of the oil and gas business is, how many people are impacted by it.
Tony: I agree with you.
Russel: It’s hotels, and restaurants, all kinds of small contractor businesses, and all of that. It’s a big impact.
Tony: We’re not asking our members to speak on behalf of any individual project. It’s more, “Let’s talk about the value we create as a collective industry. Why is it important to have additional infrastructure based on where the gas is being developed versus where’s the market demand?” You got to connect those points. We do that safely, reliably, each and every day.
Russel: Tony, this has been great. I feel like I have a good understanding of the INGAA Foundation, its mission, and what it’s all about way more so than I ever have in 30 years of being in the business.
Russel: I’m really glad that you guys reached out and said, “Hey, let’s get together and talk.”
Tony: I appreciate it, but before we close, I just wanted to personally thank you, Russel, for what you do through the Pipeliners Podcast. You do a wonderful job engaging with key staff of our industry. You encourage this conversational dialog that’s really informative, educational, and meaningful, and it’s fun. Thanks for what you do. We value that. It’s perhaps not recognized as often as you’d like to hear, but I just wanted to thank you for that broad support on behalf of the pipeline industry.
Russel: Tony, thank you very much for that. I really appreciate the feedback. You’re right. I don’t hear it very often. It’s the nature of podcasting. You put it out there, and you don’t necessarily know how it’s being received, so really nice to get the feedback. I appreciate it.
Tony: No, it’s a pleasure. If we can come back and help to inform you or your audience on more topics, happy to do so.
Russel: We look forward to that. We look forward to that.
Tony: Great, thank you. Be safe and be well.
Russel: I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode of the Pipeliners Podcast and our conversation with Tony. Just a reminder before you go, you should register to win our customized Pipeliners Podcast YETI tumbler. Simply visit pipelinepodcastnetwork.com/win to enter yourself in the drawing.
Russel: If you have ideas, questions, or topics you’d be interested in, please let me know on the Contact Us page at pipelinepodcastnetwork.com or reach out to me on LinkedIn. Thanks for listening. I’ll talk to you next week.
Transcription by CastingWords