Energy Companies Share Survival Strategies At Tulsa Expo

Tuesday, August 25th 2015, 6:35 pm
By: News On 6

Oklahoma's energy companies are having having a tough stretch as oil prices fell to the lowest they've been in six years. More than 100 oil and gas companies across the country are meeting in Tulsa this week for the annual Pipeline and Energy Expo.

One study estimates Oklahoma will lose 13,000 energy jobs this year alone much in part to the steep drop in oil prices. Right now, it's just under $40 a barrel. Compare that to two years ago, when it was $100 a barrel.

But several companies still say they're not worried.

Relief at the gas pump for you means struggle for many American energy companies. Companies like Odessa Pumps, which helps transport oil from rigs to refineries, say they are seeing a dip in sales.

"The fewer production facilities that are being built, the fewer pumps are being bought," Jake Lewallen, Odessa Pumps sales representative.

And Heartland Energy Options - which converts cars from running on fuel to compressed natural gas - also says it's hard to find new customers at a time like this.

"With everything being the way it is, oil companies aren't buying any new trucks, they're not adding equipment. And adding another $9,000 to $10,000 upfit for CNG, they're just not doing it right now," said Justin Steckman, President of Heartland Energy Options.

In fact, most of the companies at the Pipeline and Energy Expo are taking a hit from the low oil prices in some way. That's why expo chair Bill Solomon says it's more important than ever to get everyone together, talk about new ideas and stay optimistic.

"It's not going to happen in a month, I'm not sure it's going to happen before the end of the year, but it's going to happen and things are going to get a lot better," said Bill Solomon, Pipeline and Energy Expo chair.

Falling oil prices have led Oklahoma companies like Samson Resources to prepare to file for bankruptcy, and others have lost nearly all of their stock market value. Experts say many of them borrowed money last year thinking the market would eventually pick back up and they'd be able to pay it back.

But that hasn't happened.

"They were all borrowing money at $100 a barrel, so now their assets don't have near their value. They're going to delay some projects, they're going to push off some things that maybe they were always doing," Solomon said.

As they wait for the market to swing back in their favor, these companies say they'll survive.

"Although it is a dip, the strong survive, and the guys that understand the industry keep moving forward," said Justin Steckman, president of Heartland Energy Options. 

The Pipeline and Energy Expo is going on Wednesday as well here at the Cox Business Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $40.