Improved Communication, Performance and Behavior Keys to Strengthening The Energy Industry’s Reputation

Feb 18 2003

ChevronTexaco chairman and CEO David J. O’Reilly has issued a challenge to the oil and natural gas industry to work together to improve its reputation. Speaking to more than 350 attendees as keynote luncheon speaker at the recent Institute of Petroleum’s “IP Week 2003” Conference in London, he described the potential consequences of the industry’s weak reputation, and urged the industry to work together to strengthen its image through improved communications, performance and behavior.

“Our industry commits massive resources to successfully develop new technologies, products and fields for exploration. Yet we’ve been unwilling to apply the same effort to the shared challenges of reputation.”

Noting the potential ramifications of a weak reputation — including costly and onerous regulations, restrictions on access to oil and gas resources, and an inability to recruit and retain talent, O’Reilly said, “If we do not act together to address this challenge, I believe our performance will be impaired, and our basic mission imperiled.”

O’Reilly pointed out what he called a “paradox” — the growing importance of energy as a driver of economic development and quality of life, while the reputation of the industry is in decline in the minds of many.

The solution, he suggested, is to focus on three important areas, including performance, behavior and communication. Regarding communication, O’Reilly said, “We provide the energy that powers the world’s economic engines. Energy is essential to improving the quality of life — especially in developing countries. That’s something to be proud of, and we need to reinforce that value proposition through effective communications.”

“I’m proud of what the energy industry contributes. We have a powerful and positive story to tell, and we should be neither shy nor apologetic about telling it. But we need to do it together … Through these shared efforts we can lift all boats, not just our own.

“While we need to tell our story better, we also need a better story to tell,” he said. “So, we have to improve performance; doing more to protect the environment and communities where we operate, while improving our operations.

“Behaviour is how you express your values in practice. I think you’ll agree that performance without values is no better than values without performance. We can’t focus on one at the expense of the other — like looking at how our products are made and not how they’re used.

“We should be encouraging consumers to use our products more efficiently. Why? Because we’re in this for the long haul. If we want our products to continue accelerating economic growth, conservation will help keep energy plentiful and affordable.

“The commitments we make here and now will have a powerful impact on our future, and they will make us an even greater force for positive change. If we do these things, we can strengthen our collective reputation, as well as our individual performance. And we can better fulfill the mission that is unique to our industry … and so vital to our world.”