Energy Industry CEO: Get ‘A**holes’ Off Our Backs

Keystone Pipeline
National Journal
Ben Geman
March 1, 2014, 6:36 a.m.

Con­fer­ence calls between cor­por­ate ex­ecs and fin­an­cial ana­lysts to dis­cuss earn­ings re­ports are usu­ally dry af­fairs.

And then there was Fri­day’s earn­ings call with Primor­is Ser­vices Corp., a Dal­las-based con­struc­tion ser­vices com­pany that works on pipelines and oth­er en­ergy-re­lated in­fra­struc­ture.

At one point Primor­is pres­id­ent and CEO Bri­an Pratt was talk­ing about how much busi­ness there is to be found in the U.S.

There could be even more “If these a**holes would get off our backs and let us build the sys­tem and drill the wells,” Pratt said on the call.

“People are just silly if they think we can’t be en­ergy in­de­pend­ent with­in a couple of years if they will just take the hand­cuffs off and let us go out and do it,” he later ad­ded dur­ing dis­cus­sion of the com­pany’s 2013 profit growth.

Primor­is works on a range of en­ergy, in­dus­tri­al and civil in­fra­struc­ture pro­jects.

Pratt, dur­ing the call, also con­tras­ted the leg­al en­vir­on­ment in the U.S. with Mex­ico, where his com­pany has done pro­jects in the past.

“Mex­ico is not a bad place to work. The prob­lem you have there is there is really no leg­al sys­tem. And the joke in Mex­ico is a good judge is a judge that stays bribed. It’s a tough place to work,” he said.

Pratt didn’t rule out more pro­jects there but said there’s plenty of money to be made north of the bor­der.

“It’s just the op­por­tun­ity is here and you don’t have to screw around with people that want to tempt you to vi­ol­ate the FCPA, which we won’t do,” Pratt said, re­fer­ring to the For­eign Cor­rupt Prac­tices Act, a U.S. law aimed at pre­vent­ing bribery of for­eign of­fi­cials.

A re­play of the call, cour­tesy of the fin­an­cial news web­site Seek­ing Al­pha, is avail­able here. The por­tion about op­por­tun­it­ies in Mex­ico and the U.S. starts at the 47-minute mark.

Else­where on the call Pratt ex­pressed con­fid­ence about ex­pan­sion of the pipeline mar­ket to move oil from the boom­ing Bakken re­gion, al­though he pre­dicted that con­struc­tion of the Key­stone XL pipeline is a “long shot.”

“There is go­ing to be pro­jects built to get oil out of the Bakken wheth­er it be Key­stone or some­body else,” he said.

Tran­sCanada Corp.’s pro­posed Key­stone XL pro­ject would largely carry crude oil from Al­berta’s oil sands to Gulf Coast re­finer­ies, but would also carry some oil from the Bakken shale form­a­tion that un­der­lies north­west­ern North Dakota and sur­round­ing re­gions. It re­mains un­der Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion re­view.

Pratt also said the mar­ket for build­ing nat­ur­al gas lines is prom­ising.

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