Oil And Gas Industry Helps To Battle Food, Protective Equipment Shortages Amidst COVID-19 Crisis

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Oil And Gas Industry Helps To Battle Food
A shortage of Life's Essentials: The Human Cost of the Food and Fuel Crises

Oil and gas companies and industry trade associations are stepping up to support communities grappling with the challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis, particularly in states across the West.

As economic conditions worsen and job losses mount, food scarcity has emerged as a pressing issue for many families. Local food banks are experiencing a surge in demand for emergency food boxes.

The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association has demonstrated its commitment by donating a total of $50,000 to eight New Mexico non-profit organizations. These funds aim to address the immediate need for food resources in the community. Recipients of the grants include The Food Depot, Rio Grande Food Project, and Northwest New Mexico Seniors, among others.

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“Through the funding generously provided by NMOGA, it is a brighter day for many homebound seniors in San Juan County,” said Susan Steinhoff Smith, Interim Executive Director of Northwest New Mexico Seniors. “With close to sixty homebound seniors on a waiting list for close to a year, your gift has not only made our work easier, it has lifted our community. Being on the other side of the phone and letting a senior know we can deliver a meal to their door every day makes my heart happy.”

Companies are also actively contributing to combat the fallout of the COVID-19 crisis. Chevron, for instance, made a substantial donation of $230,000 to non-profit organizations operating in the Permian Basin in New Mexico and Texas in late March. This contribution is aimed at supporting local efforts to address the challenges arising from the ongoing pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented and evolving crisis that necessitates a community-wide response. Whether it’s an individual doing their part to social distance, a teacher facilitating tele-learning from their home, or a healthcare worker on the front lines, we want to say thank you to our Permian heroes. Chevron is proud to do our part,” said Nathan Carroll, Chevron Operations Superintendent based in Carlsbad, New Mexico.

Chevron’s donation of $230,000 will be directed towards the West Texas Food Bank and the Eddy and Lea County United Ways. These funds are earmarked to support initiatives related to food and housing security, addressing immediate needs in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

“This donation comes at a time when our agency is going full throttle to fulfill our mission of meeting community needs, whether they be senior citizen meals, food for children and families, housing insecurity, and more. We see a long road ahead, and we can’t thank Chevron enough for this vital support,” said Linda Dodd, executive director of the Eddy County United Way.

ExxonMobil has played a role in facilitating the research and prototyping of personal protective equipment (PPE) following a plea from an employee, Justin Sink, who came across a request from a friend on social media.

“In fairness, this has all come together faster than I anticipated. About a week ago, we were nowhere. In a short time, we went from zero to a network of willing partners. This initiative quickly went from design to prototype to being on the cusp of mass production,” Sink said.

Upon hearing the call from medical professionals, including his friend, for critical personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face shields and reusable masks, Justin Sink recognized the urgency. These PPE items are essential not only for the care of individuals affected by the virus but also to ensure that medical staff have adequate protection to prevent their own infection.

“When I first saw the call for help, I knew our plastics business had the right manufacturing contacts to help get things going. We forged connections between manufacturers and medical professionals who’d never have found each other on their own, and brought in our production and supply chain expertise, too,” Sink said.

“Things snowballed from there,” he added.

To effectively prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, especially among critical care physicians, nurses, and support staff, access to high-quality personal protective equipment (PPE) is crucial. However, a global shortage of masks, driven by the demands of governments, medical workers, and the public, quickly emerged in the early part of 2020.

Marathon took action by donating nearly 10,000 sought-after N95 masks to the University Medical Center of El Paso and El Paso County Children’s Hospital, contributing nearly 500,000 masks and gloves in total since late March. The company also allocated an additional $1 million for Red Cross disaster relief.

ExxonMobil joined the efforts by contributing $100,000 to the Carlsbad Municipal School District, aiding in the transition to online learning as schools in the region closed. Recognizing the challenges faced by low-income students without internet access, the donation includes providing laptops to support remote learning.

“Carlsbad’s schools and teachers need support and encouragement during these difficult times,” said Staale Gjervik, senior vice president at ExxonMobil Upstream Oil and Gas Company and president of XTO Energy. “We hope our contribution will help facilitate the transition to online learning during this period and ease the burden on families and the schools.”

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