Every Revolution Brings Unintended Consequences
Prior to the dawn of the 21st century, oil and gas drilling in the United States almost always took place in rural areas, out in the countryside and far away from housing developments or other populated areas. As a result, drill sites were most often beyond earshot of any living being other than birds, deer, cattle and the occasional rattlesnake or, if you were in the Permian Basin of West Texas, a horned frog or a dunes sagebrush lizard.
That all started to change with the combining of the techniques of horizontal drilling with high-pressure hydraulic fracturing jobs, a late 20th-century innovation that provided operators with the ability to recover large volumes of oil and natural gas from various shale formations around the country. As it turned out, the first major shale play to be developed in earnest, the Barnett Shale, resided beneath the densely-populated, rapidly-expanding Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and its surrounding areas. For the industry, an entirely new and unfamiliar set of issues arose with it.
As the year 2001 rolled around, what came to be known as the Shale Revolution was on in earnest, and operators were convincing the Texas Railroad Commission to issue hundreds – which quickly expanded into the thousands – of new permits to drill wells at sites across the region, many of which were in close proximity to, often surrounded by, homes and housing developments. Unfortunately, most companies active in the play at the time simply continued to try to do business and conduct drilling operations in the same way they had always conducted them out in the countryside. After all, the law hadn’t changed, so why would they?
Not surprisingly, homeowners, home developers and entire communities began to raise concerns with the companies and policymakers about an array of issues they attributed to all the new industry activity taking place around them: Water issues, noise issues, road issues, traffic issues, dust issues and issues surrounding emissions from all of the trucks, rigs, pumps and generators in their midst became regular topics of complaint and discussion at city council and county court and school board meetings throughout the region. Again, unfortunately, the industry and its trade associations were slow to respond in a cooperative way, causing the complaints to rise in intensity and providing an opening for activist groups to make inroads with homeowners and community leaders.
As a result of the decision by many companies to rely on legal defenses rather than cooperative engagement with the communities where they operated, all of these issues and more ended up causing incalculable harm to the industry’s reputation and ultimately evolved into a real existential threat to its ongoing license to operate. Indeed, the industry was so slow to adapt that all of these issues became major points of conflict in every new shale play in the country as the Shale Revolution expanded over the next 15 years.
From the Barnett to the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania, from the Marcellus to the Haynesville shale in Louisiana, from the Haynesville to the Bakken Shale in North Dakota, from the Bakken to the Eagle Ford in South Texas, from the Eagle Ford to the Permian Basin of West Texas, and finally, from the Permian Basin to the Denver-Julesburg (DJ) Basin in the northeastern quarter of Colorado, all of these issues continued to linger without satisfactory resolution.
By the time the development of the DJ Basin started in earnest around 2011, this failure to clean up its act and engage in good faith by the industry with surrounding communities had helped to give rise to what we now call ESG investor groups. ESG stands for “Environmental, Social and Governance,” three issues around which many groups of investors began to organize over the first five years of this century in an effort to impact management behavior at companies in a variety of industries, including the oil and gas business. These investor groups were driven by concerns about not just climate change, but also based on a belief that management teams at many companies weren’t implementing the appropriate governance standards and incentives for their employees.
The influence of these groups has grown dramatically over time, to the point that in 2021, they have succeeded in convincing stockholders at some large oil and gas companies to elect their own sponsored directors to company boards. This shifting reality has, in turn, led companies in the oil and gas industry to place a far larger focus on ESG-related concerns, something they had resisted so strongly for so many years.
In the DJ Basin, where sound can carry for miles across often tree-devoid plains, noise concerns quickly elevated to a primary issue. Drilling and fracking for oil and gas is a very loud enterprise, and area residents within earshot of operations began to coordinate efforts with activist groups focused not on finding real solutions but on killing the industry’s ability to do business in the state. At the same time, the political equation in Colorado was shifting from a slightly Republican-majority state to the clear Democratic-majority state it is today.
The industry and its associations cast about for effective responses, in the process, spending tens of millions of dollars on the same kinds of big media campaigns and lobbying efforts that the industry had deployed in earlier shale development areas, designed to ward off damaging ballot initiatives and onerous legislative proposals. But one company, Anadarko Petroleum, made an internal determination in 2013 that the way the industry had always done its business was no longer working, and a new approach had to be developed if it was to be able to retain its license to operate in the state for the long term.
The old tactics were no longer working. New ideas were in order, and one of the people the company hired from the outside to help develop them was a young woman with a degree from the University of Oregon in journalism, public relations and communications and no previous oil and gas experience. Her name is Heidi Gill.
Heidi Gill : The Entrepreneurial Spirit is Contagious
“I was born and raised in the Bay Area,” Heidi Gill told us when we sat down for a recent interview in Dallas. “I moved around a lot because I have two entrepreneurial parents but spent most of my life in California.” Gill said she thinks that the entrepreneurial spirit she possesses was inherited from her parents. “It’s contagious,” she remarked.
“So, I’m fortunate to have two incredible parents. They actually got divorced when I was two but remained best friends for our entire lives.”
Gill emphasized that both parents worked to include their kids in their lives even when they were working long hours, recounting one story that has stuck with her. “My dad is an engineer and owned several businesses in the engineering world, and my mom has owned several in various industries as well,” she said. “Growing up with parents like that, I remember as a kid, being at my dad’s engineering office on the weekend, and we would live in the conference room. We had a tv with Sesame Street; we had these sleeping bags – we always thought it was great because the office was so big, my sister and I could go play hide and seek. And they always had the best snacks. So, it wasn’t too bad of a gig. But yeah, my parents are incredible. They’re my best friends.”
Not surprisingly, Gill also attributes her strong work ethic to lessons learned watching her parents as she grew up. “I learned an incredible work ethic from both of my parents. They’re two of the hardest working people ever,” she said. “Looking back, there were times that we sacrificed some stuff as a family because of work, but it never felt that way as a kid. It felt like I had everything. It’s what you get used to. I think they did a bang-up job in co-parenting and instilling really solid values in all of my siblings. All of my siblings are extremely hard workers.”
Gill also attributes her participation in extracurricular activities while in high school for providing her with important lessons about leadership. She was a standout player and captain of the volleyball team, which became the school’s first team to win the North Coast Sectional in California her senior year, and she was also elected to be the vice president of her senior class.
“Leadership might be the only A I ever got in high school,” she said with a laugh. “You know, when someone asks, ‘Oh, did you think you were going to be a CEO and run a company when you were in school?’ I would’ve said, ‘You know, sure, if the opportunity presents itself.’”
As things turned out, the opportunity did present itself before her next decade in life was out.
Following graduation from high school, Gill decided to pursue her college education at the University of Oregon. As is the case for so many young people entering college, she was initially not entirely certain which field she should pursue. She knew she wanted to pursue the fields of public relations and communications (she said she had a special interest in crisis communications), but she was taken aback when she discovered that she would have to also obtain a degree in journalism in order to also become degreed in those fields.
She says there was one particular problem with that plan: “I don’t actually like to write.”
“When I got to college and started looking at careers, I probably at the time didn’t realize I’m more like my dad, who’s an engineer, than what I wanted to admit,” she continued. “At age 18, I didn’t have that self-awareness. But it did manifest itself later, which really is what I’m doing now. So yeah, Oregon was amazing — I’m really proud of the degree that I got. It’s given me the opportunity to work a lot of different jobs in different industries. And the communication piece is, I think, so critical, and I think that being an effective communicator and having an emotional I.Q. is part of what sets me apart now as a CEO.”
Gill never had any intention of working in the oil and gas industry. “Yeah, so, I went to the University of Oregon — I one hundred percent did not think I’d be going into oil and gas after attending a college like that,” she said with a laugh.
“I was working for a commercial developer in Denver and loved the job, but I had kind of peaked where I was going to be able to go there. It was a great company, and I had learned a lot of valuable lessons,” she continued. “The entire reason why I went to work in oil and gas in 2014 is that that was when all of the ballot initiatives started coming up in Colorado — I remember watching the news stories. My dad’s an electrical engineer, but my uncle was a mechanical engineer, and he was in oil and gas. So, I grew up in a family where we at least had an awareness of oil and gas and the benefits that it provides in our society.
“So having the awareness of the business and watching the tarring and feathering that was happening in the media in regard to oil and gas, I remember thinking to myself that this industry could use somebody with my skill set to be able to get a message out in a different capacity. So, a huge reason I went into oil and gas was the frustrations with lack of the industry really being able to tell its story.”
Gill came onboard at Anadarko Petroleum in mid-2014 with the title of Stakeholder Relations Specialist. At the age of 27, this assignment involved her becoming one of the company’s key faces and voices with stakeholders and communities in areas where the company operated in the DJ Basin. Equally important, it also involved working collaboratively with internal employees in the various other departments of the company, including drilling, fracking and field operations. Gill knew that to be an effective communicator on the company’s behalf, she needed to know what she was talking about.
“What I set out to do was to create a direct line of communication between the community and our asset, and then to take that feedback and figure out how to resolve those concerns from an operational standpoint,” she said. “So, I went there to help set up this response line to have a direct line of communication with the community and Anadarko. I was really fortunate that it was a role that there wasn’t a specific ladder. I had the opportunity to come in and basically create my job, make my process map as I went along.”
Taking that opportunity and running with it, Gill set out first to learn as much as she could as quickly as she could. “I spent really my first six months at Anadarko in the truck out in the field,” she said. “I would go out and visit and observe everything from seismic through drilling completions, reclamation, surface, land. I would go and spend time with those teams and learn their area of the business. And that was when I really just started to fall in love with operations. It was when the technical entrepreneur in me started to come out a bit.”
Of course, even as she was focused on learning the business, her role demanded that she still had to answer the calls coming into the office from stakeholders in the area. Gill quickly realized that the industry in the DJ Basin would have to change its strategy for engagement. “I had a direct line to hundreds of families, and I was getting these calls, and I was like, ‘Man, these people are pissed.’” she said. “It was noise, light, dust, odor, and I realized this is going to become a huge problem. I used to joke around with my direct boss at the time that I spoke about noise so often that other people at Anadarko would have thought I was a “noise intern” even though I wasn’t an intern. But I kept saying, ‘Look, there’s this regulation that I read, and what I’m seeing with these people and our operation, I’m telling you this could end up really bad.’” It was at this point that Gill received her first promotion in just six months to Senior Stakeholder Relations Specialist.
Noise had not become a big issue in the DJ Basin in the years before Gill arrived at Anadarko, but that all began to change in 2014 as drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations really ramped up across the region. Some of the most lucrative oil and gas locations in the DJ are among the most populated and desirable places to live in Colorado, and competing land use was starting to become a large issue. “So, I started looking into noise and brought it in to the head of our asset and said, ‘Look, I think we’re going to have a huge problem here.’ Of course, during that time, some people were like, ‘This chick’s crazy,’ but other people were like, ‘Yeah, I kinda get what she’s saying.’”
Gill said things started to come to a head when another operator in the basin was forced to suspend operations due to noise compliance and social pressures, the first time that had happened in the state. “Immediately, it was like, ‘Where’s this woman who’s been running around talking about mitigation?’” she remembered with a laugh.
Eleven months after her first promotion, Gill received a second promotion and was moved to a new assignment where she would become the first Senior Mitigation Planning and Execution Representative at the company. “I was on the stakeholder relations team, then moved over to the health, safety and environment team to help start their mitigation program,” she said. “What we would do is we would review all the new upcoming locations in the DJ, and we would do an assessment for noise, light, dust, odor and aesthetics, and put together a surface impact plan.”
After about nine months on the HSE team helping start that practice, Gill and the mitigation team were moved again to a new business unit. In order to address the noise issue head-on, the company realized it would need to procure more socially compatible equipment for mitigation. “A big part of my job was making these big technical decisions through a social lens, which is the thing we went on to build at Urban.
“I ended up moving over to asset planning, to go be a part of the long-term planning team because that’s where you can make the biggest mitigation choices, through your planning process.”
In the DJ Basin, operators are often required, depending on a variety of circumstances, to surround drilling and hydraulic fracturing sites with sound walls that are up to 32 feet in height. The walls are designed to absorb and deflect the noise at the site away from homes and populated areas. While such walls have been used around the country in very rare situations for decades, they only began to come into general practice with the advent of the big shale plays in the 21st century. Thus, in 2014-16, when Gill was at Anadarko, it was an immature technology that had not been subjected to much scientific and engineering rigor.
This is where the latent engineer in Gill began to come out. “I remember being at this however many billion-dollar company at the time and looking at the available options and thinking, ‘That’s the best thing we can go buy?’” she said. “We were running 14 rigs at the time, and I remember the drilling team was always pressuring us to get the walls up quickly and in time for the rig to arrive. And we’re going back and forth and were under a lot of pressure there. And I remember going home one night and having a glass of wine to relax. I remember opening the blinds in my house, and I thought, ‘Why don’t they make it an accordion?’”
It was a great question, a moment of inspiration that would become the foundation for Gill going out on her own and starting a new company called Urban Solution Group.
Social License to Operate is Now Your Legal License to Operate
The landscape of the energy business has changed rapidly and dramatically in recent years as governments across the globe become increasingly focused on mitigating what they believe are the impacts of climate change. An entire global narrative has sprung up that contends that so-called “fossil fuels” — coal, oil and natural gas — must be phased out over time and replaced with “renewable” forms of energy like wind, solar and electric vehicles. Never mind that the underlying basis for this narrative is impractical and flies in the face of the laws of physics and thermodynamics — it is the prevailing narrative for the time being, and it is placing a great deal of pressure on oil and gas operators to meet increasing demands related to their environmental impact in order to retain their social license to operate.
No one is more intensely aware of this reality than Heidi Gill, and it is a reality around which she has designed and built her entire business. “The future is only going to go to those that understand what used to be called social license items, the things you must do to retain that social license to operate, have now become your legal license items and will be required for your business to operate and survive,” she said.
These are the concerns, the planning for and execution of strategies and technologies to mitigate operational impacts to the community and retain a company’s ability to get its business done, that makes up the portfolio of service and product offerings at Urban Solution Group. “Urban really focuses on nuisance impacts and mitigating and assessing all the impacts with industrial operations, and then having a social awareness while we make technical decisions,” Gill continued. “It doesn’t matter if it’s oil and gas development or if it’s a solar farm, or if it’s a bitcoin mining facility, or if it’s a restaurant or a grocery store. People want access to everything with none of the impacts. That is unfortunately where our country is going — it’s becoming very hard to do any type of business here.
“So, I always say whether it’s in oil and gas or a different industry, whether you’re older in your career or newer in your career, the people and the businesses that are going to survive are the ones that get good and get good quick at understanding that social element to your business and make it a critical driver for your projects and your operation. You don’t get to go do an oil and gas location or put in a solar farm and say, ‘We’re holding a community meeting, or we’re notifying the community to be a good neighbor.’ That’s crap. You’re notifying them because now you have a legal obligation to do so. So really, anyone that’s digging their feet in, it’s like you’re not even at the party. You really have to evolve and realize that the human emotional components are real threats to business in the United States regardless of the industry.”
When Gill left Anadarko in 2017, she was not 100% certain about the direction her career would take from there. She initially considered going into consulting with companies in the area of mitigation planning, but the idea of building and marketing her own sound wall technology remained embedded in her thoughts. Ultimately, in consultation with friends and her fiancé at the time, she decided to go all in.
The first step was to design the sound wall and file to have it patented. “Really, the idea behind the wall was that there were similar products on the market, but they weren’t designed from an operator’s point of view,” she said. “There were some changes that could be made that would make it more efficient and safer for operators. And I think having worked for an operator and understanding the pinch points regarding our operations in that particular service was extremely valuable.”
Gill had a design in mind, but not being an engineer, she first had to engage with an engineering firm to complete the detailed design for the wall. The next step was to work with a fabricator to build an operational model. That led to a bit of a confrontation that Gill is able to look back on with a bit of humor.
“I went to the largest fabricator in Colorado, Springs Fabrication located in Colorado Springs, and I had a meeting set up with their business development guy. So, I came in wearing jeans and cowboy boots and a shirt, and the guy looked at me like I had 19 heads. And he just was like, ‘You’re the person I’m meeting with?’” she remembered, laughing.
“He said, ‘Well, do you have a design?’ and I pulled out a piece of binder paper where I had drawn the design and showed it to him. And he just looked at me like I was crazy. He was like, ‘So you have no money; you have no customers, and you want us to do what?’ I said something like, ‘I need a manufacturing partner, and I’m going to go do this.’ And he gave me another look and said, ‘So, you think that, what, we’re just going to want to be involved if you have none of this?’ And I just looked at him and said, ‘Well, it’s simple: Do you like money?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’ And I said, “Great because I plan to make a ton of it.’” At that point, the meeting was over.
But it turned out that Gill’s dealings with the company weren’t over yet. “So, that night, I got a call from the manufacturing plant owner, who said, ‘Hey, I heard you had a pretty interesting meeting with my BD guy and asked if he liked money?’ I said, ‘Yeah, that happened. And he said, “Ok, let’s meet.’ So, I met with him, and now that has become an incredible partnership for us.”
“At the time, I was engaged to my husband, who’s amazing, and we were planning a wedding. My dad had given me money for the wedding, and I told my husband that I can do a wedding or I can start this business, and we use this money to pay to manufacture one of these units. My husband, who is an entrepreneur himself, said, ‘Hell yeah, double down on the business — got for it.’ So, then I basically went and manufactured one unit that I could then use to go out and negotiate contracts.”
A unit for one of Urban’s sound walls is a 32 ft. high, 20 ft. wide steel structure that folds horizontally like an accordion. Manufacturing a single unit from scratch was a costly enterprise and a risk, but a very good one as things have worked out.
Gill said that Anadarko was the first company to agree to come to take a look at the finished product. “That was a big thing because, at the time, they were not very fond of someone quitting and then coming in to offer a service,” she said. “But I think that goes to explain the true business need that we were trying to solve. You have the largest operator in the basin willing to go work with someone several months later after they quit and in a totally different capacity. I mean that I think sums up pretty much what we were trying to solve.”
Gill was able to land the initial contract with Anadarko and then went on and raised 10 million in the private markets. Through that process, she was able to contract with a group of partners while retaining a large ownership share in the company. “I have some incredible partners,” she said. “I mean every single one of my investors I genuinely like.”
Partnerships Make the Difference, in Life as Well as Business
Having incredible business partners certainly helps, but Gill also was eager to talk about how important it has been to her to find the right life partner, too. Even though the young couple agreed to spend the parental seed money for their wedding on that section of sound wall instead, they did ultimately get married, and Gill positively glows when she talks about her husband, Kevin Fahey, who owns Denver-based logistics company VersaFreight.
“Kevin is incredible. He’s also an entrepreneur, the head of a logistics company out of Denver. My husband started his company eight years ago, and he hit his initial goal by the time he was 35. They’re a well-oiled machine. But if you talked to him, you’d never even know he owns this company because he’s always more interested in me and Urban. Nobody believes in me more than he does.”
The two met as Fahey was just getting his business started out of his house, where he lived with four roommates. Gill was immediately attracted to his entrepreneurial drive. Fahey eventually upgraded his office to a garage at a commercial building. Eventually moving in together, Gill held traditional jobs while Fahey labored to make his dream a reality. Fahey now offices out of a commercial building that they own — a long way from the closet and garage where he started.
Now both successful business owners, the couple lives in Golden and also owns a home in Breckenridge where they spend a great deal of time skiing and hiking. “We also love to travel, spend time with our families,” Gill added. “We don’t have kids yet, but we will. That’s definitely in the plans.”
For Gill, recognition for what she has achieved in the business world has come in the form of an array of honors and awards from the Denver business community and the media outlets that cover it. Among others, she has been named one of Denver’s Top Women in Energy and also Outstanding Women in Business by the Denver Business Journal, a Steward of the Industry by the Society of Petroleum Engineers, to the Denver Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 list, and as recipient of the annual Emerging Leader award by the Colorado Oil & Gas Association.
We asked how she responded when such honors like these came along. “When I received the Top Woman in Energy, it was very early on after starting Urban. So that was one I was extremely excited about. It’s also extremely humbling, and I have a ton of gratitude,” she said. “It’s humbling because I’m 35 years old and living the most extraordinary career that I can imagine. I’m very humbled to even be considered with a lot of these individuals. Same thing with 40 under 40. I was just 32 at the time, and that group is filled with a bunch of entrepreneurs, which is exciting.”
She said the one that may stand out the most to her was the Emerging Leader Award she received from COGA in 2018. “That one was a complete shock,” she said. “They put together a video in which they’d gone and interviewed colleagues and people who I admired so much. That meant the world to me. It’s so humbling, and I’m so incredibly grateful to be where I’m at now. By myself and my team being recognized for this stuff, it means people are listening and really care about what we’re doing.”
Gill is also extremely proud of the team she has been able to put together at Urban Solution Group and of the fact that she was able to keep that team intact through last year’s COVID crisis, which came as a devastating blow to the company.
“What I think makes me successful as a CEO is not the ability to do all of these things that our company is involved in,” she said. “It’s my ability to find the right people and bring them onto a team, care about them, and empower them to go make decisions and get out of their way.
“I would do anything for the Urban team. They are my family and my best friends. We all genuinely feel lucky to work together. We’ve been able to retain talent from all across the country. We’ve had people move from Pennsylvania and Midland. Our engineering department is out of Canada. We’ve been able to retain talent because we have a culture of creativity, innovation, empowerment, and also accountability.
“The team is made up of high producers who work extremely hard, but we’ve been able to create great things by just allowing people to excel, by putting them into an environment that allows them to become their best professional selves.”
We asked if Gill had her team back in the office now that the COVID crisis has calmed down to some extent or if they are still working remotely.
“We’re both,” she said. “We’re in the office primarily, but everyone on the team will work from home one or two days a week. That’s at their discretion — this was true even before COVID. I don’t care if they work more efficiently at home or in the office as long as their responsibilities are taken care of. We don’t have a very rigid framework in that regard.
“I think that if you hire very capable people, and you give trust, they will work harder for you if you allow them to work in a way that is most compatible with their lives. And the team knows that I won’t keep a lame horse. Everyone produces and contributes.
“People will work harder for you if you just loosen the reins and let them go excel where they need to.”
It’s a model for work that has paid off for the company as well as the employees.
“When COVID hit, we shut down manufacturing line for the first time, and we haven’t restarted,” she said, recalling the scary days of early 2020. “We had to take down almost our entire wall fleet and store it. It’s like stacking 25 rigs. In 2020 our plan was to double our company size, and in Q1, we were beating that by 30%. We were completely sold out, everything was moving, and we were manufacturing, and then COVID hit, and then we lost everything.”
Heidi Gill : Dealing With Reality
Though it was not easy, Gill was able to keep her team together through the depths of the COVID pandemic, working to develop new products and new innovations.
“We made really tough decisions early on,” she recalled. “We didn’t lay off a single employee, but everyone did pay cuts. We made massive budget cuts across the board, and we made really creative deals with our operators.
“So, it was a challenging time during which we could’ve sat back and said we’re not going to spend any money, and we’re just going to let this thing ride out, and we’ll all go and quarantine in Mexico, and we’ll all come back when the market recovers. But that’s not what we did. We worked harder that year than we ever could imagine. Instead of sitting back and licking our wounds, we said, ok, what is the world going to look like, not just post COVID, but also with the new regulatory landscape in Colorado?
“That’s when we went and made a large investment to build a tool that would allow our customers to navigate the new world called NavPlanIQ. It’s a cloud-based, first of its kind, energy-specific software that enables you to mirror the current regulatory environment in real time when you design your location,” she told us. “There’s nothing else out there like it. We’ve met with everybody; no one has done that. It also features a robust grievance management system that enables operators to externally manage their relationship with the community in operations. You now need to monitor various parts of your operations continually (such as noise and air) in Colorado, and so we built a platform that enables operators to have all of their teams working on all of their pads collectively and be able to see technical data, planning and regulatory data, and then also be able to overlay that human component that is so critical. So, you can see how loud your rig is, what your mitigation is doing to reduce that, and what are the homes and the complaints of the people nearby.
“That’s really the biggest thing we did, and now we’re not just using it in oil and gas. That is something I’m extremely proud of. We definitely found the opportunity in crisis and had the courage to act on it.”
During 2021, the company has recovered to the point now that Urban Solution Group is the dominant contractor in the noise mitigation market for the DJ Basin. “Now, we are fully committed; we’re fully deployed back on the markets,” Gill said. “Also, because our product has been deemed by operators as the safest premier product in the basin, we are negotiating long-term contracts for all of 2022. So, we’ll lock up our entire fleet with select operators.”
That all goes back to the reality that the oil and gas industry really does care about what Urban brings to the table, and that bodes well for the industry’s long-term future. Because Urban Solution Group is not just a company that offers solutions for operators’ ESG-related challenges; rather, it is a company that embodies the ESG ethic.
“A lot of times, you can go and build a great business, but people might not care about it,” Gill said. “But all this success to me means that people care about what I and my team are trying to build and accomplish, and the future of energy development that we see. They care about having a company that’s built not just on technical excellence, but also on social acumen and awareness.”
For the future of the industry, Gill believes that focus on ESG will be critical in conjunction with understanding what are now critical path, legal license items the business must address. “We’re out of chances. What people don’t understand, especially in Colorado, is that you’re not going to get the opportunity to screw up in field execution, in actually drilling and completing wells and doing your business. There’s no way that you can expect to not be a good player in the field and still have your permits be approved. It is a direct line: How are you doing in operations, and how are you being perceived in the community to which permits are being prioritized to be approved?
“It’s a reality.”