Commission to Take Comments on Natural Gas Industry

Article excerpt

By Ronda Fears Journal Record Staff Reporter In an attempt to take a comprehensive look at the natural gas industry in Oklahoma, Oklahoma Corporation Commissioners Friday invited comments on every angle of the changing business.

Oklahoma's largest public utilities _ Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co.

and Oklahoma Natural Gas Co. _ are expected to have a profound interest in the undertaking as well as the thousands of producers, gatherers and marketers scattered across the state.

Responses are due by Nov. 12 but no subsequent technical conferences or hearings have been set. It took at least two years to file the notice of inquiry.

There is no specific change recommended in the filing toward the approach the agency takes to regulating the industry, but rather, the agency is seeking to take the pulse of the industry, noted staff attorney Rick Chamberlain.

It is being filed as public utility case, but covers the broad spectrum of the industry from the wellhead to the burner tip. Producers, gatherers, marketers and distributors of gas are urged to inform the commission of the various aspects of their business and emerging policy.

The corporation commission acknowledged its unique position of regulating both the oil and gas production and the public utility angle of the industry.

"The commission direct or indirect responsibility in all phases of the natural gas industry from producer to consumer, from wellhead to burner tip," said Chairman Bob Anthony.

"Natural gas is the brightest spot on the map for Oklahoma's economic future. We have an obligation to review state policies concerning its utilization. The commission can do the best job of regulation by determining broad policies rather than trying to solve interrelated problems on a piecemeal, case-by-case basis." Too, the commission noted numerous fundamental changes in the natural gas industry over the past decade and many more on the horizon may make state regulation appear to be operating a vacuum. There are the Natural Gas Policy Act of 1978 that partially decontrolled the wellhead price of gas and the total decontrol of gas prices in 1989.

Federal law has also brought about numerous changes at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that altered the way producers and intrastate pipelines operate as well as gatherers and marketers.

Commissioner Cody Graves, the newest commissioner, was not at the meeting in which the filing was approved, but offered some insight. …