Op-ed by Mike Cantrell, OEPA President
The Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance supports the right of elected county commissioners to determine what is in the best interest of the residents in their respective counties when it comes to the use of the rights of way over which they have jurisdiction.
There is a dispute in Kingfisher County between horizontal oil and gas producers and the county’s commissioners regarding overlaying temporary produced water pipelines on top of the ground in the county road rights of way. The county commissioners determined that these lines constitute a safety hazard, damage both private and public property, exposing the county to potential liability, and must not be allowed.
The ability of companies to lay so-called temporary water lines in county rights of way is very beneficial to the companies needing to transport water from one location to another. But those benefits pale in comparison to the possibility of losing one Oklahoman’s life in an accident involving pipelines put on the surface of the right of ways of our county roads.
The OEPA has several members who reside or operate conventional vertical oil and gas wells in Kingfisher County. Our members are Oklahoma companies, operators, and leasehold and royalty owners concerned with protecting the rights of conventional vertical oil and gas well producers. Most of our members own their own companies and have lived and operated in Oklahoma for generations. While we vigorously support our members, we also support what is best for Oklahoma and its residents.
It’s unfortunate that heavy-handed methods and misrepresentations are being put forth by certain facets of our industry to justify the need to use the rights of way to increase profits, without counterbalancing that against the interests and protection of the county and its residents. While the Oklahoma Corporation Commission has exclusive jurisdiction over oil and gas operations, that jurisdiction typically ends at the oil and gas lease line. We make no judgment on the practice of laying pipelines in county rights of ways. However, we do support the county commissioners’ right to decide how those areas are used.
Mike Cantrell is principal of Cantrell Investments LLC and serves as president for the Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance.