Industry Insiders Skeptical, but Hoping Anadarko Petroleum Keeps Assets in Oklahoma

Article excerpt

Kerr-McGee's acquisition by Anadarko Petroleum Corp. presents Oklahoma with an opportunity as well as a challenge, says Denise Bode, vice chairman of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

Bode, who is running for Congress, said Friday she understands Anadarko officials have wanted to change their focus from the international sector to America.

Their emphasis is going to be on deep water - which is one of Kerr-McGee's areas of expertise - unconventional gas and the Rockies, Bode said an Anadarko official told her in a recent phone call.

She said Western Gas Resources, also acquired by Anadarko, is one of the key players in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming.

An Anadarko official said the merger may make Anadarko the largest independent producer in the country, Bode added.

A former president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, she said that in her experience with Anadarko, they have top-notch management.

They're a very good E&P (exploration and production) company, she added. It's quite a compliment, I think, to have the Kerr-McGee asset be part of their company.

Bode said she made clear during the call that she wants Anadarko to increase its presence in Oklahoma.

She was told that Anadarko started looking at the Kerr-McGee acquisition only about six weeks ago, and doubts whether company officers have decided exactly what they will do with employees.

The purpose of my call was to encourage the Oklahoma presence to grow, said Bode, who offered to talk to appropriate officials about what the state can do to encourage that.

Bode said Anadarko already has a considerable exploration and production presence in Oklahoma.

I think it depends on how hard we work to encourage and to demonstrate why Oklahoma needs to be one of their key players in their family - if they're refocusing into America, why we should be a good place to do business, she said.

Bode said Anadarko is also impressed with the quality and experience of Kerr-McGee employees.

Bode said the state should take steps to encourage relocation of Anadarko employees to Oklahoma to work on unconventional gas and the other areas on which Anadarko is now focusing.

Oklahoma should change its tax code so that opinion leaders of such companies want to have their employees here, she said.

Bode said that should include eliminating the income tax, adopting true tort reform and other state and local steps.

We need to turn things around, so that we don't lose any more corporate headquarters, she said. This is another wake-up call, that Oklahoma needs to change our wicked ways to encourage people to come here.

Bode said the Anadarko move could be an opportunity to reach out and prompt the now much-larger company to locate more employees here, given Kerr-McGee's relatively small employee base in Oklahoma City.

It really is a good company, and they've made Kerr-McGee one of their gems, she said.

Amy Polonchek, interim executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, said there is much that is still unknown about the merger and what it will mean to Kerr-McGee's Oklahoma City headquarters. …