Williams CEO: Unleash domestic natural gas industry - The University of Tulsa
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Williams CEO: Unleash domestic natural gas industry

L-R: Carson, Taylor and Armstrong

The U.S. can lower Americans’ energy costs and cut carbon emissions by unleashing domestic natural gas production and transport, Williams Cos. Inc. President and CEO Alan Armstrong said during The University of Tulsa’s monthly Friends of Finance luncheon on Wednesday.

The U.S. has led the world in using natural gas to reduce carbon emissions and has greater potential than anywhere else in the world to further these aims while increasing domestic energy security and driving down consumer energy costs, Armstrong said, but the industry is going to need some help.

“The good news is that we have plenty of gas supply in the U.S. We have plenty of ability to get that to market if we can get the permitting processes (reformed) and get the support to make that happen,” he said.

Drilling and natural gas pipeline projects often take years to get off the ground because of lengthy permitting processes and a difficult legal environment, Armstrong said, adding that the permitting process for a pipeline project can take up to five years. Lawsuits filed in any state can stop a project in its tracks, even if all the state and federal permitting has been approved.

“This is the big challenge that we have in the U.S.,” he said, noting that these burdens also affect other energy projects, including renewables like hydropower. “We have to get this straightened out, whether it’s for renewables or for gas pipelines.”

Continued delays on the Mountain Valley Pipeline project in the Appalachian region of the eastern U.S. – a project that is 96% complete but on hold because of legal actions – may have contributed to increased energy costs in the northeast that have risen by as much as 25%, Armstrong said. This stands in contrast to other areas in the world, where similar projects can be done in far less time, he said. As an example, Germany recently completed a liquefied natural gas import terminal in just 10 months.

Delays are costly in other ways, namely in American goals to reduce carbon emissions, Armstrong said, adding that continued conversion of power generation to natural gas could reduce global emissions by as much as 30%. Williams manages 30,000 miles of pipeline across the U.S., amounting to 30% of the nation’s natural gas pipeline inventory.

TU President Brad R. Carson said Friends of Finance presentations like Armstrong’s benefit both the university and Tulsa’s business community.

“I think it’s great for students, faculty, community members and business leaders to come here. It makes us a better academic community, and it also cements the ties between The University of Tulsa and some of the leading businesspeople in the region,” Carson said.

TU announces grant from Williams

Williams is enhancing its partnership with TU through a $250,000 grant to create the Williams Coffee Lounge and Entrepreneurial Hub, set to open in fall 2023 in Helmerich Hall.

The lounge will allow students to market their “side-hustles,” sell products and showcase art for display or for sale. Business development programs will also be held in the lounge, and an app is being developed that will promote its events.

Three TU MBA students – Lauren Agpoon, Hannah Havameyer and Nick Parisi – developed a plan and a budget for the hub. Their pitch to Williams played a key part in obtaining funding to make it a reality, said Kathy Taylor, dean of TU’s Collins College of Business.

“Our students, both undergraduate and graduate, learned project planning and management skills and worked with Williams to imagine, design and budget for the launch of a new student coffee and entrepreneurial hub in Helmerich Hall,” Taylor said. “Involvement in the communities where they operate is at the heart of Williams. They believe in giving generously of both their time and resources where they can make a difference. With Williams, it’s always about more than just writing checks.”

To learn more or register for Friends of Finance’s monthly business luncheons, which fund TU scholarships, visit utulsa.edu/fof.