Oklahoma encourages natural gas production
BY DANA L. MURPHY
Thursday, February 02, 2012
2/02/12 at 3:29 AM
I went to a business that had a sign out front that said "Open 24 hours," but the guard at the front said, "We're closed." I said, "But your sign says 'Open 24 hours.' " The guard said, "We are, but not in a row." - Steven Wright
That joke rings true in far too many instances when it comes to the consequences of misguided government decisions on policy and regulation, particularly when it comes to development of energy resources.
That's not the case in Oklahoma. Last year showed Oklahoma is still a leader among states when it comes to energy.
Further development of our natural gas resources is a good example. While other states or their communities responded to issues related to natural gas production with moratoriums or outright bans, Oklahoma developed innovative programs and rules to not only regulate, but also encourage new technologies unlocking huge reserves of natural gas and encouraging its use.
The Corporation Commission's work in this regard shows that protecting our environment and consumers while ensuring beneficial development of our oil and natural gas resources is an achievable goal. For example, a recent independent review of our hydraulic fracturing regulations praised our approach. Moreover, we regularly update our rules to improve efficiencies as well as the effectiveness of environmental protections.
On the production side, I was honored to serve as facilitator in a successful process that brought together producers, mineral and surface owners and others to develop legislation to promote technology allowing for greater production of our shale gas reserves while protecting all stakeholders. The result was the Shale Reservoir Development Act, sponsored by Rep. Mike Jackson, R-Enid, and Sen. Cliff Branan, R-Oklahoma City.
Since its passage, the Corporation Commission has developed rules necessary to implement the law. Among other things, the changes enable producers to take advantage of advances in technology that allow the drilling of longer horizontal well bores. This allows greater access to more gas reserves with a much smaller surface footprint, greatly decreasing any environmental impact.
The changes also encourage water conservation techniques. On the supply side, the commission has begun the process of developing rules to facilitate use of long-term natural gas contracts by electric utilities while still protecting ratepayers.
Natural gas is a centerpiece of Gov. Mary Fallin's Oklahoma First Energy Plan, and rightfully so. Oklahoma is the nation's fourth-largest producer of natural gas, and natural gas is a key element in developing burgeoning energy technologies in Oklahoma as well as its industrial sector.
Wind energy can grow through using natural gas-fired "peaker" power plants that can be brought online quickly, when wind energy cannot meet demand.
Oklahoma industries will be able to grow and attract new industries with our affordable and abundant supplies of natural gas.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission is proud to be part of the collaborative effort to ensure that Oklahoma is open for business 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Dana L. Murphy is chairman of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.
Dana Murphy: Last year showed Oklahoma is still a leader among states when it comes to energy.