More than one election is planned in Oklahoma next week.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, fewer than 2,000 members of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association will consider whether to combine their organization with the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association.
Together, the groups would represent more than 1,000 upstream and midstream companies that operate in Oklahoma’s oil and natural gas fields.
Backers of the proposal, already approved by both organizations’ boards, say the combination would strengthen and unify their message that the industry is important to the state and its economy.
Cody Bannister, the OIPA’s communications vice president, said it has about 2,000 members who represent 1,200 public and private oil and gas companies “actively investing capital in Oklahoma today.”
Chad Warmington, president of the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association, said his organization has 80 larger active upstream and midstream companies, plus refiners, as members.
Both Warmington and Bannister said many companies belong to both, and added that both have been pursuing similar agendas on behalf of their members, especially recently. Both groups have sought support for updated drilling and completion procedures, including longer laterals. They also have opposed oil and natural gas tax increases and challenged subsidies for wind energy production.
Both organizations also have long histories.
Warmington noted that OKOGA was founded in 1919 as the Mid Continent Oil and Gas Association of Oklahoma, and that it plans a celebration next year to mark its 100 years of existence.
The OIPA, meanwhile, was formed in 1955.
Warmington said both organizations’ directors approached the potential deal months ago, thinking it would be harder to pull off than it actually appears it will be.
“When they really started looking at it, they realized our legislative agendas were really very similar over the last couple of years, … that we were much more aligned now than we ever had been before,” Warmington said.
“I think they also were really attracted to the idea of having one voice represent oil and gas,” he said. “From a public policy standpoint, it would be great to have one voice that represents 99 percent of the industry (we don’t have a lot of the stripper well guys). That is a real attractive thing for us.”
Mike Cantrell, president of the Oklahoma Energy Producer’s Alliance, said Friday the proposed merger is an example of how organizations’ missions change over time.
He said the OIPA’s creation, for example, was led by several prominent and independent Oklahoma oil and gas men who had left the Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association of Oklahoma in 1955 because they felt it no longer represented their views.
The situation was the same 18 months ago, Cantrell noted, when former board members and chairmen of the OIPA left that organization to form the alliance, which represents operators of vertical wells across the state.
Cantrell said the alliance’s goal is to communicate its members’ concerns to lawmakers that their resources are threatened by the development of plays that use horizontal wells to target oil and gas reserves and that vertical well owners are not adequately compensated for resource losses when they occur.
“I think it is a really good thing,” Cantrell said of the proposed merger.
“We are up to 400 members now and growing pretty fast, and I think the merger of those other two organizations will make it a lot more apparent to the 3,000 vertical producers in Oklahoma that we are the organization who represents their interests.
“I expect we will grow even faster.”
If it happens
If OIPA members approve, the new association will be known initially as OIPA-OKOGA, after a coin toss involving the chairmen of both boards settled that issue.
That name only will be temporary, though, while the staffs of the two organizations integrate into the OIPA offices at NE 4 and Lincoln Boulevard in Oklahoma City.
Both Warmington and Bannister said the two staffs then will do a rebranding of the combined organization to create a name, image and mission that both represent its objectives and respect its histories.
The boards of both organizations have agreed that Warmington will lead the new organization as its president.
“If it happens, we will end up with a really strong organization that knows who it is, what it seeks and will work really well in supporting its members,” Warmington said.
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