NPC to work more closely with DOE on emergency preparedness

The National Petroleum Council has agreed to use the new approach in the US Department of Energy’s 2016 Clear Path IV emergency preparedness exercise to independently track progress in implementing recommendations in its 2014 Enhancing Emergency Preparedness for Natural Disasters report and identify opportunities for continued improvement.

In a July 29 letter to US Sec. of Energy Ernest J. Moniz, NPC Chairman Charles D. Davidson noted that DOE announced in late 2015 that the fourth annual Clear Path energy sector preparedness exercise would move away from earlier exercises’ academic formats toward a functional exercise supporting the Obama administration’s Quadrennial Energy Review, the 2014 NPC report’s recommendations, and DOE leaders’ desire for more coordination across sectors.

“The move to a functional exercise created the opportunity for industry and government to work together not just during the exercise, but during the planning and review process,” said Davidson, who formerly was Noble Energy Inc.’s chief executive officer. “This created an ongoing dialogue and facilitated development of working relationships that are likely to continue for years.”

Strong, continuing communication among oil and gas companies and the federal and states’ governments will be essential in developing a more effective US energy emergency preparedness program, he said.

“Organizations with mature programs have been implementing and continuously improving them for years. In order to sustain and build on past progress over time, the NPC cannot overemphasize the importance of a formal management of change process,” Davidson said in the letter.

That process is an essential component of any program, but the added complexity of change within government resulting from a change of administration and the large turnover of senior staff makes this even more critical, he said.

A key, ongoing priority

“The NPC encourages DOE to make management of change a key priority in planning for a new administration, and an ongoing priority for the emergency preparedness and response program,” Davidson said.

In remarks to the council at its July 29 meeting, Deputy US Energy Sec. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall said DOE was pleased to have strengthened the Clear Path exercise to make it more meaningful, and to ensure that its government and industry partners can work together more effectively during a crisis.

“The department has heard from many people that this was the most valuable exercise we have done to date, and that it is a great example of what we need to sustain far our into the future,” she said.

Moniz, who also spoke at the meeting, highlighted the Obama administration’s program to double federal investments in clean energy research and noted the significant opportunity to include technologies that would enable the cleaner use of natural gas and other fossil fuels.

“I really want to emphasize something we probably have not articulated well enough and consistently enough, and that is how the natural gas revolution in this country has addressed what arguably are the three highest-level objectives—economy, environment, and security. The natural gas revolution has really hit the trifecta,” he said.

NPC also elected ExxonMobil Corp. Chairman Rex W. Tillerson to succeed Davidson as its chair at the meeting.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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