Op-Ed: Oil and natural gas play a critical role during pandemic

Ryan Watts
Ryan Watts

By Ryan Watts

The response of our healthcare workers has been nothing short of amazing during this global health crisis. By now, we have all seen the stark images of overworked health care professionals on the front lines battling the coronavirus.

Their faces reveal the perpetual fatigue after working grueling back-to-back shifts while donned with numerous layers of protective gear. They have witnessed the heartbreaking toll this invisible enemy has had on its victims. These unsung heroes deserve our utmost respect and support as we try to wrap our minds on how to fight this contagion effectively.

As the world starts to recover and slowly returns to a new normal, health care professionals and other workers will need ample supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) to operate in a safe and healthy manner.

However, we cannot meet these demands without the help of oil and natural gas. How so?

Oil and natural gas deliver so much more than just residential heating and gasoline. It provides the necessary feedstock to manufacture these critical medical supplies that protect and save lives during this pandemic.

Recently, there has been a national push to quickly manufacture and procure these items to combat COVID-19 and jumpstart the economy. Yet, without oil and natural gas, the existence of these products would not be possible.

Here is a short list of medical supplies only made possible by oil and natural gas:

N-95 masks, ventilators, heart valves, stethoscopes, disinfectants, safety seals, syringes, tubes, gloves, oxygen masks, anesthetics, medicines, bandages, trays, hoses, surgical and lab equipment, IV bags, packaging, pill cases, antiseptics, rubbing alcohol, pill bottles, capsules, wheelchairs, antibacterial soaps and gels.

As illustrated, oil and natural gas are critical now more than ever to help produce these required medical supplies. Where would we be treating this virus or any other ailment without these life-saving products?

While we focus on the importance of our medical professionals, and rightfully so, we cannot forget the contributions of the other thankless employees who have sustained our needs in these unprecedented times.

Truck drivers, pilots and delivery service employees, who depend on various fuels to move goods, have been invaluable in keeping our economy going. Several oil and gas companies have donated scarce supplies of PPEs to hospitals, nursing homes and first responders. Power service providers have suspended the discontinuation of utility services due to late or unpaid bills.

Essential oil and gas workers have remained on the job and are committed to providing affordable, reliable energy to our consumers during this crisis. All these industries continue to do their part to ensure that Americans have a solid footing when we return to some level of normalcy.

Our nation will survive this pandemic, but we cannot discount or downplay the importance of oil and natural gas during this global health crisis. While we cannot predict the end of the coronavirus or its lasting effects, Kentucky’s oil and gas industry stands ready to help revive our economies and get our workers back on their feet.


Ryan Watts is the executive director of the Kentucky Oil & Gas Association