FORT WORTH, Texas--Gen. David H. Petraeus knows a thing or two about dealing with a hostile environment.
The retired four-star general shared some military insight with an industry that too often draws opposition to its practices during a May 21 keynote luncheon at Hart Energy’s DUG Permian conference.
As opponents of hydraulic fracturing continue to push for stopping or slowing down operators, Petraeus said the industry needs to engage them.
“What we have to do is recognize that there are legitimate concerns out there, acknowledge those, pitch a big tent and try to get everybody you can inside talking,” Petraeus said.
For seven years during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Petraeus held six straight commands and became well known for the counterinsurgency military tactic “hearts and minds.” He learned how important communication was while drafting a counterinsurgency field manual for the U.S. armed forces that was used to lead efforts in Afghanistan.
In the early days of writing the manual, he held a seminar with adversarial groups: human rights organization leaders, international lawyers, coalition members and the press in order to give everyone a seat at the table.
“We might not have agreed with every single point they made, but at least we would acknowledge it and there would be dialogue,” he said. “There would be at most shouting, not shooting.”
He said an ongoing methane emission study organized by the Environmental Defense Fund and involving the industry, scientists, universities and environmentalists is a good start. The next step might be the industry allowing environmentalists to be embedded, similar to the way journalists were during the Iraq invasion.
The industry should figure out a way to give responsible environmentalists access to operations so they can observe just as reporters did, he said.
The industry may not be at war, but it is competing with the global economy, the general said. Giving the industry full access to fight for a place in the world marketplace is vital.
“It’s the only way that we’re going to be able to exploit the abilities that you all have pioneered when it comes to hydraulic fracturing, directional drilling and so forth,” he said. “It’s just too important for our country.”
The U.S. is currently in the midst of innovative transformations in manufacturing, technology and life sciences, but by far the most important is the energy revolution and the country is still in the early stages