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
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