Name: Jason French
Position: Vice President of Government and Public Affairs
Company: Tellurian Inc./Driftwood LNG
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Education: Bachelor of Arts, University of Louisville
A Texan by birth, Jason French spends most of his time in Louisiana these days, working to make Tellurian a leading voice in the state’s growing LNG industry. Driftwood LNG, a subsidiary of Tellurian, is developing a liquefied natural gas production and export terminal on the west bank of the Calcasieu River that will be able to export up to 26 million tons of LNG to customers around the world.
As a voice for this developing world-scale project, French also leads efforts to educate the public and state policy makers on issues important to the energy industry.
His experience running government affairs with BP during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill changed his career “unimaginably,” he says. The 2010 tragedy is what brought him to Louisiana for the first time, and he’s pretty much been working in the state since. He remained with BP through the company’s spill response efforts, helping residents and elected officials in Grand Isle, then joined Cheniere in 2011.
Relatively unknown at the time, Cheniere would blaze an energy trail in the U.S, and that job would lead French to Tellurian in 2016. Although his work often takes him away from his family, French enjoys a good challenge and the task of building coalitions. He recently led an effort to form the Louisiana Energy Export Association and bring together many of the leading LNG companies.
He’d like to start his own government affairs firm one day but for now is happy to carve out moments of downtime with his family and get out on the water when he can.
What are your responsibilities at Tellurian Inc.?
I manage the company’s state and local government and public affairs efforts. This includes maintaining a dialogue and positive relationship with our neighbors, working with legislators and the administration in Baton Rouge, managing our philanthropic efforts in Louisiana and generally working to establish Tellurian as a leading voice in Louisiana’s growing LNG industry.
What is your secret to leadership and advancing in your field?
I am a firm believer in seeking out challenges and taking on the assignments that others believe are impossible or unwanted. I also believe you must be willing to challenge your organization’s leadership when appropriate. If your input is not welcomed, you should consider whether or not you are in the right organization.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities like?
No two days are the same. For the last couple of months, my days have been consumed by the Louisiana state legislative session. In the coming months, I will be spending significant time meeting with community and civic leaders to explain the details of our $16 billion investment in Louisiana and the opportunities that the project will create. I will also be leading an effort to pass a constitutional amendment on the October ballot that will be very important to anyone planning to build an LNG facility, a commercial venture or a home in Louisiana.
What do you see for the future of your industry?
I believe that the future of the American energy industry in general, and the LNG industry in particular, are bright. America has been blessed with an abundant amount of natural gas. We have the ability and the infrastructure to develop those assets and to export them to allies across the world. We are creating tremendous economic growth in our country, while exporting a cleaner burning and much-needed fuel to the rest of the world. It is a tremendous position for our industry and our country to be in.
What is your most satisfying professional accomplishment?
I was asked to lead BP’s efforts in Grand Isle during one of the most tense periods of the spill response. People were angry and frightened—and rightfully so. As to be expected, they had very little trust or faith in anyone from BP. I spent the next five months of my life in Grand Isle leading BP’s community relations efforts, working with residents, elected officials and other responders to try to make the situation better. While we could not erase the effects of the spill, we worked hard to make sure people’s claims were paid, that their property was protected and that they got back to work as quickly as possible. I believe we made a positive impact, and I’m proud of that work.
What is a great piece of advice you have personally received? Did you have occasion to put it to use?
I was once told, “Just do the right thing. The worst thing they can do is fire you.” I have put it to use many times—and have yet to be fired as a result.
This article was originally published in the third quarter 2017 edition of 10/12 Industry Report.