Compact Comments

IOGCC passes three resolutions at midyear meeting

The IOGCC took a proactive stance during its Midyear Issues Summit May 21-23 in Billings, Mont., approving three resolutions emphasizing the importance of domestic energy to the economy and national security.

One resolution recognizes America’s significant dependence on foreign sources of oil. That reliance contributes enormously to the country’s balance of trade deficit, which now exceeds $750 billion annually. Other factors such as last year’s hurricanes and the price of gasoline have brought the issue to the forefront of public discussion.

To address the issue, the member states resolved to conduct regional and national forums in conjunction with the Western Governors Association to provide the public with accurate information on oil and gas issues. The IOGCC also will convene a team of experts to provide governors with recommendations for conservation and environmental protection by December.

Another resolution authorizes the IOGCC to assist the Petroleum Technology Transfer Council (PTTC) in obtaining a federal appropriation to enhance its programs and activities. PTTC is a non-profit organization that supplies exploration and production technology to U.S. producers, particularly small independents.

The organization also agreed to support the Association of American State Geologists and other organizations in an effort to secure appropriations from Congress to fund the Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation initiative. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorized an annual appropriation of $30 million directed toward that cause.

The three new IOGCC resolutions are now available on the IOGCC Web site.

Chairman's Stewardship Awards

Applications are now being accepted for the IOGCC Chairman's Stewardship Awards.

These awards represent the IOGCC's highest honor for exemplary efforts by the oil and natural gas industry in environmental stewardship.

The four categories in which awards are presented include Energy Education, Environmental Partnership, Major Company and Independent Company. Interested parties may nominate their own company or organization, or any group they feel has made a contribution in one of the categories.

Nominations must be received on or before August 18, 2006. For more information or to download an application, visit the IOGCC Web site.

New IOGCC leadership selected

During the recent Midyear Issues Summit, the IOGCC named its new chairman and vice chairman, to take effect at the commission’s annual meeting in October.

Gov. John Hoeven of North Dakota was selected to become the chairman of the IOGCC. Hoeven previously served as IOGCC chairman in 2003. He was elected governor of North Dakota in 2000. Hoeven will replace current IOGCC Chairman, Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal.

Texas Railroad Commissioner Victor Carrillo will serve as the IOGCC vice chairman. Carrillo is currently the second vice chairman of the IOGCC. Carrillo was appointed as Texas’ official representative to the IOGCC in 2004 and was named second vice chairman in 2005. He began a six-year term as Texas railroad commissioner in January 2005.

The IOGCC also named Lynn Helms of North Dakota as the second vice chairman. Helms is the director of the department of mineral resources for the state of North Dakota.

Each will serve a one-year term, commencing at the IOGCC Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas, Oct. 15-17, 2006.

Crude oil pricing task force update

Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal, IOGCC chairman, announced in April the formation of a regional task force to address crude oil pricing anomalies in the Rocky Mountain and northern plains states.

The task force met at the IOGCC Midyear Issues Summit in Billings, Mont., to discuss preliminary findings. A final report is expected at the IOGCC Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas, Oct. 15-17.

Meeting Photos, Presentations on Web site

Check out the IOGCC Web site's events page for photos from the midyear meeting in Billings. PowerPoint presentations and transcripts from meeting speakers will be available soon.

On the Hill

By Kevin Bliss

The big news in May on Capitol Hill for IOGCC member states was the decision by the U.S. House Energy and Water Appropriations Committee to all but eliminate oil and natural gas R&D funding at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Although in its budget submission to Congress, the administration had recommended termination of the oil and natural gas R&D program, it was hoped that the House would continue to fund the program at near the previous years’ funding levels of approximately $63 million ($32 million for oil, $31 million for gas). However, in late May the Appropriations Committee recommended, and the House approved, funding of only $2.7 million for oil and no funding for natural gas. Of the $2.7 million for oil, $1.5 million was earmarked for the Stripper Well Consortium, and $1.5 million for the states' Risk Based Data Management System. The bill also provided $12 million for gas hydrates R&D which was previously funded under the DOE natural gas program. The apparent rationale behind this decision was that Subtitle J (Sections 999A-H) of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 funds a program, not requiring a Congressional appropriation, of “research, development, demonstration, and commercial application of technologies for ultra-deepwater and unconventional natural gas and other petroleum resource exploration and production.” The thinking was apparently that this provision of the Energy Policy Act would supplant the need to fund an oil and natural gas R&D program at DOE.

Suffice it to say that not all activities funded by the DOE oil and natural gas R&D program will be replaced by the ultra-deep and unconventional R&D funding. IOGCC member states' representatives are encouraged to contact their Senators and request that they contact Senator Pete Domenici (NM) and Senator Harry Reid (NV), as Chairman and Ranking Member respectively of the Senate Energy and Water Appropriation Subcommittee, to encourage them to fund the DOE oil and natural gas R&D programs at last year’s levels.

In other news on Capitol Hill, energy remains a top concern. It is expected that before Congress recesses for the July 4th holiday that both the House and the Senate will have considered one or more pieces of energy legislation, hopefully including long-discussed measures to open up offshore resources for development.

The IOGCC continues its work, with strong member state assistance, to secure an appropriation for an orphan well plugging program, giving states, through the IOGCC, funds on a matching basis to permanently plug orphaned oil and natural gas wells. This $10 million appropriation would fund a provision authorized in last year’s Energy Policy Act. As the House Energy and Water Appropriation bill did not include such a provision, our efforts are now focused on getting such funding in the Senate bill.

Briefs

Mike Smith recently announced he has joined The Abraham Group as a senior advisor. The Abraham Group is a Washington, D.C.- based energy consulting company. Smith was Oklahoma's official representative to the IOGCC for more than six years when he was the secretary of energy of former Gov. Frank Keating. He is a former IOGCC vice chairman, former chairman of the Public Outreach Committee and a long-time IOGCC Steering Committee member. He was the Assistant Secretary of Energy for Fossil Energy in President George W. Bush's first term.


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