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Third Attempt to Expand Long-Lateral Drilling in Oklahoma Moves Forward

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Oklahoma lawmakers start approval of a compromise bill to allow expanded long-lateral drilling in the state.

Senate Bill 867, The Oklahoma Energy and Jobs Act, allows horizontal wells more than a mile long in non-shale formations, where they are currently prohibited. Rep. Kevin Calvey said there are two benefits.

"One, it's going to be more revenue in from gross production taxes. In a time when we're going through such angst in our budget, this will help the budget," Calvey said. "And, secondly, it has a spillover effect. ... There are so many more jobs that this will create by increased drilling."

Opponents say the bill is not a compromise, because it allows big companies to drill through the vertical wells of small producers, who are not on board. Rep. Pat Ownbey said the bill infringes on the property rights of small companies and individual mineral rights holders.

"Ask Joe Warren. He was here yesterday. He lost 22 wells," Ownbey told his colleagues. "You might be thinking differently if you were Joe or Steve Gilliland, who lost 37 plus two more now. That'll make it 39. There are many, many others out there."

Rep. Jason Murphey objected to this sort of bill being taken up after what should be its deadline thanks to procedural rules allowing that.

"It is clear that not all sides have worked this out, and it really sends a very strong message in terms of transparency and process when a bill is introduced shortly before the end of session, it goes through the appropriations policy but it is clearly a policy bill," Murphey said.

SB867 passed 15–8. It is awaiting consideration the Senate appropriations and budget committee.