Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Nigh Takes Second Look at Controversial Oil Bill / Decision Expected Today

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Nigh Takes Second Look at Controversial Oil Bill / Decision Expected Today

Article excerpt

A controversial bill full of "goodies" for the oil and gas industry is not a cinch for the governor's signature, Gov. Geor ge Nigh said Tuesday.

"We have some concerns," Nigh said at a state Capitol news conference.

Moments before, Rep. Charles Morgan, D-Prague, and a handful of oil and gas lobbyists were seen clustered in the hallway outside Nigh's office. They were trying to get Nigh to say he would signthe bil.

House Bill 1985 includes a two-year moratorium on permanent plugging of the state's marginal "stripper" wells - a provision that Morgan says could preserve the state's oil reserves until crude oilprices rebound from this year's depression to the $10 to $15 per barrel level.

"Once they're plugged," Morgan, "they're gone forever."

Nigh later met with the oil and gas lobbyists, including Steve Kelley, executive director of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association.

House Bill 1985 includes several measures that Kelley had proposed to legislators last month as ways the state could help the oil and gas industry survive troubled times.

About an hour after talking with the oil and gas lobbyists, Nigh also met with the bill's opponents, including representatives of the National Association of Royalty Owners.

John Reid, Nigh's news secretary, said the governor may take action early today on House Bill 1985.

"It's running 50-50 right now what he'll do," Reid said. "He's considering signing it and he's also considering a veto.

"But," Reid said, "I hate to say he might veto it, because that might send out some kind of signal."

Royalty owners disklike House Bill 19985 because it would release oil companies and pipelines from their joint liability with well operators to make payments to royalty interest owners.

Dick Wheatley, a registered lobbyist for two pipeline companies in Tulsa, was involved in drafting the final version of House Bill 1985.

Sen. Ray Giles, D-Pocasset, said the bill would deprive royalty owners of getting their "just dues. …

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