Introducing an Energy Producer to a New Host Community

After acquiring thousands of net acres of new leasehold assets from another operator, a top Colorado oil and gas producer was ready to begin its first development project in a new community, by completing previously drilled but uncompleted wells. The goal was to introduce the company as an innovative operator committed to going above and beyond what’s required in order to produce energy responsibly, while safeguarding public health, the environment and quality of life.

Client
Services
Communications Strategy & Planning
Stakeholder Engagement & Advocacy Communications
Presentation Coaching & Media Training
Industry
Energy & Utilities
Awards

CHallenge

The rapid expansion of communities in Colorado’s Front Range alongside long-standing mineral leases has led to land-use conflicts, and a changing state regulatory environment has raised the stakes for operators. Against this backdrop, the company sought to “get off on the right foot” with residents in a new community before completions began, but these plans were complicated by three factors:

  1. Mere weeks after closing on the acquisition, the COVID-19 pandemic in Colorado prevented the company from following through on plans to introduce itself via an in-person town hall.
  2. The previous owner of the assets planned a new well pad location approximately 1,000 feet from the nearest home, which residents opposed. The community assumed the new owner would stick with plans for a pad at that location, which automatically created a negative perception.
  3. Before the company was able to find a way to meet with nearby residents safely, photos of an incident at one of the newly acquired pads were captured and shared online, creating potential doubts about the company’s ability to operate safely.

Solution

The company partnered with Linhart PR, which has extensive experience in community engagement for the energy and utilities sectors, to host a telephone town hall (TTH) for its new neighbors. This format provided a safe, convenient way for residents to connect with the energy company and begin a dialogue. Key aspects of the telephone town hall included:

  • Content: Linhart PR created a PowerPoint presentation for residents to follow through the TTH technology, along with a corresponding script for company spokespersons. The presentation introduced the company, affirmed plans to abandon the controversial site, gave context on the well pad incident, and provided updates on upcoming completions activity, based on the company’s emphasis on safety and mitigation of temporary impacts.
  • Q&A: Through the TTH operating system, residents could ask questions live or submit them through a web portal. Linhart PR managed the Q&A portion of the meeting by interacting directly with callers to collect questions and comments, placing questions in a queue to guide the discussion strategically and running the technology which allowed residents to ask questions live.
  • Post-meeting communications: Linhart PR compiled a summary Q&A with questions received during and after the meeting and responses from the company. The summary Q&A, along with the presentation deck and audio recording of the meeting, were added to the company’s website for transparency. Linhart PR also drafted community relations content to alert TTH participants that new resources were available on the website.

Results

Residents and elected officials participated in the telephone town hall and shared positive feedback post-meeting. The leader of an informal oil and gas community watch group had this to say:

“I can’t thank you enough for using the format you did and answering with respect and patience. The neighbors I spoke with afterwards only had positive things to say, so hats off to you. It is a relief to be working with an oil and gas company that stands behind their commitment to listening to and responding to neighbors' concerns.”

The company achieved its goal of starting on the right foot with new neighbors, and completions on the four-well pad got underway without incident.

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