Last week, IPAA held its Annual Meeting in La Quinta, California, in the desert oasis of Palm Springs. The sheer number of Annual Meetings IPAA has had – this is the 82nd – confirms the status of IPAA as a true institution. This meeting was one of goodbyes and hellos as its the end of Chairman Bruce Vincent’s term.
In the past three years, former Chairman Bruce Vincent made quite a splash in Washington, the industry, and in media outlets across the country. From newspapers to television to Congress he proclaimed the amazing benefits of American oil and natural gas and championed America’s independents. Bruce had an interesting three years to lead the industry. He confidently steered us through the storm of the Macondo incident and boldly charged on in the sunny skies of the amazing independents-driven shale revolution.
Bruce has an unparalleled depth of knowledge of policy issues which he communicates sharply and succinctly. In his farewell address, he summed up the policy environment that the industry finds itself in. He said, “The oil and gas industry is part of the solution. We can’t let Washington make us part of the problem.” Here at IPAA, we can truly say it was a pleasure and a privilege working with Bruce and the independent industry will be forever indebted.
At the Board meeting, IPAA elected Virginia “Gigi” Lazenby, CEO and 100 percent shareholder of Bretagne LLC, to be the new chairman. Gigi had previously served as vice chairman with immediate past chairman Bruce Vincent. The Board also elected Mike Watford, CEO of Ultra Petroleum, to be Vice Chairman. The team of Gigi and Mike truly displays the diversity of the independent oil and gas industry. Gigi is the founder of a very small oil and gas production company in Kentucky, and Mike is the CEO of a huge E&P company in Houston. Thus, they can bring two completely different voices to Washington on how regulations affect the independent producer.
In her acceptance speech, Chairman Lazenby discussed the three themes of “People, Performance, and Politics” for success in the policy world. In particular she highlighted the role of the IPAA Wildcatters Fund, the largest oil and gas association political action committee in the United States. At a time when the Obama administration has been particularly harmful to the industry (see Keystone, offshore plan), it’s more important than ever to elect policymakers who understand the prominent role the industry plays in boosting the economy, creating jobs, and bolstering our energy security.
Gigi also discussed how her lifelong experience in the industry through the good times and bad times has given her a “great education” that enabled her to start her own company—Bretagne, LLC in 1988. She quipped “As the saying goes, ‘the strongest steel is tempered closest to the flame.’ I am proud to be IPAA’s Steel Magnolia!”
A couple more meeting highlights: Former IPAA Chairman Mike Linn won the 2011 Chief Roughneck Award, there was great dialogue with industry leaders on the importance of community engagement, and we had a popular International Committee meeting complete with Australian food, wine, and a even an Aussie industry leader. Also, a few of the staff had the opportunity to explore the canyons on the outskirts of Palm Springs in a jeep!
The greatest part was interacting with our members — the oil and natural gas wildcatters. The people in this industry are the reason why we, as IPAA staff, come to work– to fight for the flourishing of the independent industry. It was especially great for me, at my first meeting, to meet the people I’ve heard so much about over the past couple months. I want to give a huge thanks to the IPAA meetings department for their hard work in making these meetings so successful. Finally, we are excited to work with Gigi and Mike in the coming years.
Given the politics in Washington, it will definitely be a wild ride.