Feb. 12, 2021 Legislative Update
Senator President Pro Tempore Greg Treat & Speaker of the House Charles McCall
On Wednesday February 10th, Legislative Chairman David Guest and Regulatory Affairs Chairman Parker Bowles along with OEPA’s lobby team of Greg Piatt and Sydney Hill participated in meetings with Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat and staff and then met with Speaker of the House Charles McCall and his staff. These meetings with Legislative leadership allowed OEPA to outline and discuss the proposed legislation as requested by OEPA. These bills include SB 632, which would modify the Oil & Gas Lien Act of 2010 to include pooling bonuses, OGL bonuses and uncompleted mineral sales transactions to be included as first priority lien holders in bankruptcy filings, and SB 1034 which would remove the SOER Committee from the direct oversight of the OERB board. Both Pro Tem Treat and Speaker McCall were receptive to our reasons for the new legislation. The open ears and minds from both legislative leaders is very positive and we at OEPA appreciate their extended cooperation to work with our statewide organization.
Also on February 10th, at the request of House Energy Chair Brad Boles (R-Marlow), Parker Bowles, David Guest, Sydney Hill and Greg Piatt met with Chairman Boles in his office to review several bills as he wanted the input from OEPA.
SB 1034 known as the “SOER bill” Discussion
At the request and assistance of Senator Zack Taylor (R-Seminole) on February 16th, several legislative committee members including David House, David Little, David Guest along with Greg Piatt and Sydney Hill participated in a Zoom call with OERB Chairman Mike McDonald, Petroleum Alliance President Brook Simmons, Petroleum Alliance Legislative VP of Governmental Affairs Adria Berry to discuss the OEPA requested SB 1034 known as the “SOER bill”. The talking points from OEPA included the acute need to refocus on the needs and direct outreach to marginal well producers, especially to all four corners of the state. Additional concerns include the need for autonomy within the SOER committee and also the public knowledge, or the lack thereof, of the SOER committee and its mandated purpose to advance and preserve the marginally producing oil and gas wells within the State of Oklahoma. As expected both OERB Chairman McDonald and the Petroleum Alliance are against the efforts of our Senate bill. However, both David House and David Guest, who serve on the SOER committee, made strong arguments for the needed change to the autonomy and direction of the SOER committee. The Zoom meeting lasted over one hour in time, with OEPA leaders and OERB Chairman McDonald engaged in productive discussions. We ended the call with an agreement to meet again for further discussions on the change in the statute covering the SOER committee.
HB 2029 Discussion
Additionally, at the request and assistance of Senator Zack Taylor (R-Seminole), on February 18th a Zoom call was held with OEPA members President David Little and David Guest along with our lobbyist team of Greg Piatt and Sydney Hill in conjunction with Petroleum Alliance Legislative VP Adria Berry and eight (8) Alliance members, including legislative and regulatory affairs employees from Continental Resources, Devon, Marathon, Ovintiv, Unit Petroleum and others. The Alliance discussed their requested HB 2029 filed by Rep. Terry O’Donnell (R-Catoosa). This bill will change certain provisions in the Production Revenue Standards Act, known as “PRSA”. Proposed changes include requiring a division order to be signed before the payment of oil & gas proceeds, a change in the starting date for statutory interest accrual, clarifying that interest is not due on accrued interest and payment of interest on escheated funds to the State of Oklahoma. OEPA representative’s Little and Guest listened to the proposal from the Petroleum Alliance members, then made courteous rebuttal on several points on the requested changes. Again, this Zoom lasted over an hour in length with very good discussions between the OEPA and Alliance personnel. Your OEPA representatives vocalized the idea of using escrow or trust accounts with third parties to protect monies in suspense from the effect of payor companies’ bankruptcy. OEPA and representatives of the Petroleum Alliance agreed to continue discussions on the House Bill in the upcoming week.
In summary, I want to sincerely thank Senator Zack Taylor (R-Seminole), who is a member of OEPA and a legacy vertical well producer, for facilitating the communication and meetings with members of the Petroleum Alliance. The fact that we are in discussions with other organizations regarding legislation is a positive moment for OEPA and validates the efforts of every one of our members.
In closing, I wish to thank both Sydney Hill and Greg Piatt for all their long hours of communication with staff members, Leadership staff and our State Representative and Senators to facilitate our efforts at the State Capital.
David A. Guest
OEPA Legislative Committee Chairman
Executive Committee Member