While outlets like the Washington Post and the Daily Beast (and rightly so) are looking into the Donald Trump political connections behind Montana-based Whitefish Energy’s $300 million contract to work on Puerto Rico’s electric grid after Hurricane María, an energy company in Oklahoma (home state of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt) announced that it was awarded a similar $200 million contract.
“Oklahoma City-based Mammoth Energy Services announced its wholly owned subsidiary, Cobra Acquisitions LLC has won a nearly $200 million contract to restore power to Puerto Rico following the hurricane,” a release said.
The release continued:
Cobra is a utility infrastructure business that focuses on the repair and construction of transmission and distribution networks.
“After witnessing the destruction from Hurricane Maria first hand last weekend, where 85% of Puerto Rico’s residents are currently living without electricity, we intend to work quickly both to help rebuild the electric grid and to help restore normalcy to people’s lives,” said Arty Streaehla, Mammoth’s Chief Executive Officer.
The contract calls for Cobra to carry out comprehensive damage assessment of the existing electrical grid and to provide engineering services in the design of a new electric utility grid to Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. The company will also provide construction services to rebuild the grid and do so with fully self-contained life support equipment without putting additional strain on the local population.
Crews from the company spent the past week assessing the damage and more are expected to begin arriving this week. It could mean the company will have to temporarily double its workforce of about 250.
According to its own website, Mammoth calls itself “an integrated, growth-oriented oilfield service company serving companies engaged in the exploration and development of North American onshore unconventional oil and natural gas reserves.” In a release about Cobra, Mammoth said that the company “chose to expand its integrated model into utility energy infrastructure through the formation of Cobra. Cobra is focused on all facets of the utility infrastructure industry particularly though Transmission and Distribution (T&D) networks and substation construction. Cobra currently has operations in the southeast, mid-west and midcontinent portions of the United States for multiple Investor Owned Utilities (IOUs). Cobra has a senior management team with an average of 26 years of experience in the utility infrastructure industry.”
At a Mammoth conference call on Friday, Mammoth Straehla said the $200 million contract would last 120 days. NewsOK’s Adam Wilmoth, who covered the conference call, wrote that “Straehla said Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives were involved throughout the process, ensuring the deal complies with FEMA reimbursement requirements.”
The NewsOK story also reported that “the deal provides Mammoth with an up-front $15 million payment to help the company pay for and move equipment and people to the island” and that “the contract covers only the first 120 days, but allows for extensions if additional work is needed.”
In addition, according to NewsOK, “Mammoth bought Cobra for about $8 million through a pair of purchases earlier this year and has since expanded the utility business to include 58 fleets and about 275 employees.”
It is also pretty well-documented that EPA Administrator Pruitt, the former Attorney General in Oklahoma, has strong ties to this home state’s oil and gas industry.