Don Evans joins Permian Basin coalition
The Permian Strategic Partnership announced Thursday the former U.S. Secretary of Commerce under President George W. Bush will serve as the organization’s chairman amidst efforts to improve the development and quality of life in the Permian Basin.
Don Evans, who served as commerce secretary for four years, is a longtime resident of the Permian Basin, and previously served as chairman of Energy Future Holdings, as CEO of the Financial Services Forum and as CEO of Tom Brown, Inc. Under his leadership, Evans said the PSP plans to work with city, county, state and federal governments to better develop the Permian Basin, with a focus on improving schools, infrastructure, healthcare availability, affordable housing and workforce development.
Evans took the job as PSP Chairman after he said the CEOs of the 19 companies who are a part of the partnership came to him and asked him to consider the position. He had previously been retired, and said it wasn’t anything he had on his radar at the time.
“What an honor and what a moment in life, and what a moment in the history of the Permian Basin, and to be a part of making sure we have the responsible development of the oil and gas resource and that it all leads to a better life for the families and children and the citizens all across the Basin, I just can’t imagine anything I would rather be doing,” Evans said.
Evans said the founding CEOs of PSP all saw potential to develop oil and gas in the Permian Basin, but wanted to make sure they could develop the resource effectively and efficiently, tackling the challenges along the way, such as affordable housing and a limited workforce.
“They’re not just about producing oil and gas, they want the citizens and families where they operate to have a wonderful quality of life, the kind of quality of life that the men and women and children of West Texas enjoyed for generations,” Evans said.
The PSP, with the help of Evans, has already done some work in an attempt to improve local infrastructure. It was announced in December the Texas Department of Transportation was awarded $50 million in federal grants, which will be used for replacing an existing four-way stop with an overpass at SH 302 and SH 115 in Kermit, and for building an overpass at SH 158 and SH 137 west of Garden City. Evans said at the time PSP worked closely with TxDOT and the U.S. Department of Transportation to highlight the need for more investment in Permian Basin infrastructure.
Evans said PSP only consists of upstream operators and service companies so far, but he’s confident they will expand to midstream and pipeline companies, and eventually move past the energy industry to companies that support the energy industry or the Permian Basin.
“I just can’t emphasize enough this remarkable moment in time of the history of the Permian Basin,” Evans said. “To think that this area will be among the largest secured strategic supplies of oil in the world, that’s a very big statement to make.”
Despite drooping oil prices, Evans said he is confident there will not be another bust, and said all of PSP’s research says the same. PSP has run multiple kinds of models at different price levels, and said there’s still a lot of work to do in the Permian Basin should prices drop below even where they are now. Evans cited a price collapse in 2014, when the oil industry continued to become more efficient, and continued to develop and drill.
“The rocks in the Permian Basin area are just so much better than rocks in other basins in the world that the Permian Basin continued to drill through that price downturn and continue to drill today,” Evans said. “You’ve already had a tremendous drop in prices over the last three, four, five years and last time I checked, we’re still active and we’re still growing. I think we’ve already disproved it.”
Other countries will have a hard time running at low oil prices, but Evans said the Permian Basin will always be resilient due to the growth in technology, which Evans said is now more important than prices in the oil and gas industry.
“The boom and bust cycles of the past are behind us,” Evans said. “Will we slow down? We could. But is it gonna be like a bust? No. This is gonna be a very resilient area in which to operate, which is a good thing for the citizens and families of the Permian Basin.”