Legislative Reception welcomes members, officials

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OIPA-OKOGA welcomed members, lawmakers, state officials and guests Wednesday evening to the association’s 2019 Legislative Reception at the BHGE Energy Innovation Center.

Attendees heard from OIPA-OKOGA Chairman Wade Hutchings and industry leaders Harold Hamm, David Le Norman and George Solich, and received an update on the associations’ merger and the future of the combined entity.

Hamm a former OIPA chairman, said it become clear in recent years the two associations were on the same page on the vast majority of issues. 

“When we speak with one voice, it makes all the difference in the world,” he said. 

“The job’s not complete, it’s not over. We see a lot of things that could be improved. But we have a business-friendly Legislature and governor. That makes it all come together.”

As a Denver-based company choosing to invest in Oklahoma, FourPoint Energy, Solich said, is the third-largest producer in the Sooner State and has more employees here than in Colorado. 

Despite that, the company has as many rigs running in the Permian — which Solich called the “boom basin of our era” — as it does in Oklahoma.

He said moves made at the Legislature affect where the drilling happens.

“The economics of long-lateral wells is critical,” he said, referring to landmark legislation passed two years ago allowing for 1,280-acre well spacing in all formations, not just shale.

He also pointed out the difference in how the industry is received in Colorado and Oklahoma.

“I think in Oklahoma, when you come in with a rig, they like to see you coming,” he said.

Solich stressed the importance of working with local governments and residents to combat the misinformation put out by anti-oil and gas groups.

Le Norman said half his family are engineers and the other half are teachers, and he thinks Gov. Kevin Stitt and the Legislature are right to focus on education.

“The contribution made by oil and gas is so significant,” he said. “In the last 10 years, the GPT alone has put $2 billion into education. Last year, GPT and our other taxes put $700 million straight to education. I don’t know if there’s another industry in another state that contributes 25 percent of all taxes collected.”

Le Norman pointed out that OIPA-OKOGA is made up of more than 1,300 companies, most of which are small companies.

“One out of every five workers are in our industry or are directly employed because of our industry,” he said. “That’s the guy two doors down from you shooting hoops with his son. It’s not all big companies. It’s a whole bunch of little people, working hard. We’re Oklahomans. We’re neighbors.”

OIPA-OKOGA President Chad Warmington said the group is looking forward to working with legislators during the 2019 session.

“That’s our job,” he said, “to be here as a resource to help you make Oklahoma great.”

Warmington also announced the OIPA-OKOGA Executive Committee has nominated the next three chairmen of the association. The slate will be presented to the full OIPA-OKOGA board in June. If approved, David Le Norman will take over from current co-chairmen Hutchings and Berry Mullennix in June, with Continental Resources’ Blu Hulsey and Chaparral Energy’s Earl Reynolds set to serve as vice chairmen and succeed into the top role.

Angie LaPaglia