Gas & Oil: Plan for growth, prepare for disaster.

Dec 16th, 2010 | By | Category: Israel, Public relations
israel PR, israel gas discovery, israel gas find, exploring gas in israel, oil crisis, BP oil crisis

An oil rig

There has been much coverage in the press regarding the natural gas exploration in Israel. This includes positive as well as negative coverage for all parties involved. Just today however, the industry in Israel got a major boost when analyst David Kaplan of Barclay’s Capital commented on: “…the opportunity for the Israeli companies and economy to become significant participants in the export gas market to Europe and the East.” His recommendation has come at a significant time when much uncertainty in the market exists due to tax and legislation concerns. “Risk is high, but so is the reward,” he said. As I’m writing this, meetings are supposedly taking place to discuss the development and financing of the Tamar natural gas field.

As the debate becomes more heated over gas in Israel, the obsession with oil in the US still continues. Just yesterday, the US government filed a civil lawsuit against BP and 8 other companies over the Gulf oil spill. Although the front page headlines and 24/7 coverage of the oil spill has calmed down, Twitter announced that the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill was the number one topic in 2010.

Following the disaster, BP clearly had to boost its communications channels. Its website now boasts an entire section dedicated to the response, with the expected updates, Facebook Q&As, Twitter channel/links and videos. In fact, BP reported that its 190 web videos of the spill have been viewed by about 10.6 million people. Furthermore, it has recently announced the production of a full feature film into the disaster. It clearly wants to recoup even the slightest amount of the reputation it once enjoyed. The feature film is a clever way to achieve that.

It is not just BP’s reputation that has suffered however. In a previous blog I wrote that the subsequent months following the oil disasters would be critical to restoring the public’s faith in the oil industry. I believe as more investigations take place into any civil and/or criminal liability, increasingly it will be revealed that the industry as a whole is at fault. As an editorial in the NY Times showed, a presidential commission suggested, the entire industry “ignored safety precautions in pursuit of ever-higher gains.”

Israel’s gas industry and their fellow PR representatives have much to learn from the U.S.’s oil catastrophe that began in April. Israel’s gas fields may be the U.S.’s equivalent to its “oil in the Gulf”. Both have enormous potential to be an economic resource to their respective countries, and both unfortunately represent the possibility of disaster. As the tax and royalty debate over the gas in Israel continues, now is the time to ensure adequate safety precautions and measures are in place.

As Israel witnessed its own catastrophe a few weekends ago with the fire, it is only with preventative actions that will ensure those crisis communications plans will never have to be implemented.

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