API and ANGA to merge

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, November 19, 2015

The American Petroleum Institute, the nation’s top lobbying group for the oil industry, announced plans today to take over America’s Natural Gas Alliance, ending months of speculation that an agreement was in the works.

API is slated to become an even larger and more powerful voice for the oil and gas industry under the merger, which will take effect Jan. 1.

“There is a natural synergy between our organizations,” API Chief Executive Jack Gerard said in a statement. “As a single organization, the combined skills and capabilities bring an enhanced advocacy strength to natural gas market development — ANGA’s primary mission — and the combined association’s expanded membership will provide additional lift to API’s ongoing efforts on important public policy issues.”

Consultants and industry sources have for months said that the merger was underway, and that it made sense in light of ANGA’s accomplishments under CEO Marty Durbin’s leadership (E&E Daily, Sept. 9).

Durbin in 2013 went to ANGA from API, where he served as executive vice president of government affairs. He had also worked at the American Chemistry Council, which represents the interests of U.S. chemical and petrochemical makers.

Under the umbrella of API, Durbin will continue to represent the gas industry’s objectives — expanded use of gas and liquefied natural gas exports — as executive director for market development. In addition, ANGA members who are not already members of API will become full members, according to the release.

“Marty will be essential to our continued, and now combined, efforts to advance natural gas market development, and I am pleased to welcome him back to API in this new role,” Gerard said.

In another move that signaled a merger was on the horizon, ANGA’s spokesman for the past five years, Dan Whitten, was tapped this month to serve as vice president of communications at the Solar Energy Industries Association (Greenwire, Nov. 3).

Some industry sources have questioned whether financial incentives may have fueled the merger.

One industry source in September said the drop in oil and gas prices had left ANGA’s members with little funding to spare on lobbying efforts. Of the 14 companies listed on its website that report earnings independently, only two made a profit in the second quarter. The other 12 lost money during the quarter, including well-known names such as Chesapeake Energy Corp., Range Resources Corp. and Devon Energy Corp.

Another industry source expressed concern that joining the two groups could dilute the “pure gas voice” if ANGA is folded into API. But the source said the potential merger wouldn’t affect the call for export of domestic gas, which has already received a warm welcome on Capitol Hill.