September 2020, Vol. 247, No. 9

Editor's Notebook

And Our Readers Say …

By Michael Reed, Editor-in-Chief

A recent survey of Pipeline & Gas Journal readers showed a clear majority of respondents believe the lingering effects of the coronavirus and recent developments concerning Dakota Access and Atlantic Coast pipelines have dealt a serious one-two punch to midstream businesses. 

While I suppose it didn’t take anything as formal as a questionnaire for most of you to have already arrived at this conclusion by simply talking with a few of your peers and using your own common sense, some of our survey results seemed surprisingly upbeat to me, all things considered. 

For example, to a pair of questions asking readers how long they thought it would take their companies to recover from the losses incurred as a result of these developments, a little less than three-quarters replied that this could be achieved by the first half of 2021 – less than a year from now. 

This was true concerning the damage to their companies by both the pandemic and as a result of the DAPL and Atlantic Coast decisions. In other words, the majority of our responding pipeliners view both sets of troubling events much like they have the cyclical downturns they have experienced (or were told of by older peers) in the past. In short, midstream businesses will come out of this and, in their opinions, relatively soon.

That’s not to say the answers to our questions shied away for striking a more somber tone in a couple of instances: Concerning the coronavirus, fully 70% of the respondents said they believe the effects of the pandemic will have a long-lasting impact on the overall financial outlook for their employer. 

Additionally, almost 15% of those respondents went as far as to say they expect the fallout to last three years or longer. Even more telling is the fact that more than half of the 498 respondents said their company has reduced its workforce as a direct result of the pandemic and its related restrictions.

Of course, the readers’ survey goes into considerably more detail than I could possibly cover in this column, particularly if I included some of the more colorful comments from our respondents. That is why we plan to have an article in the October edition of P&GJ that will take a more thorough look and provide some analysis.

Before I leave the subject, though, I wanted to point to the result I probably found the most surprising – at least until I took a couple of minutes to think about what it revealed about the people in our industry.

To a question concerning whether the respondents or any of their co-workers who normally work in the office are now working from home instead, I was at first taken aback that the number stood at only 80%. 

Then I realized some folks who work at offices also have additional duties that require them to go out on occasion, because part of their job involves direct service to those needing help with various repair and safety concerns. Unlike myself, these employees cannot perform their entire work function at a laptop placed on the dining room table. When these workers are called for help, they get up and go.

As one such employee offered in our survey comments section, “We never shut down. As a matter of fact, we were the only vehicles on the road during the COVID-19 outbreak! It looked like a ghost town, but we were working.”

Yes, they were working. And, if our results are any indication, it appears they plan to continue working.

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