If Berlin was a betting woman, she would venture to guess that an organization with the words "Independent Petroleum Association" in the title and that represents itself as the unified voice and advocacy group for the Oklahoma oil and natural gas industry might support an independent producer in court proceedings against a municipality. In most cases, the bet would pay out, but not when the Independent Petroleum Association in question is the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association (the "OIPA").
In a truly bizarre action, the OIPA, filed a motion with the Canadian County District Court to file brief of amicus curiae to oppose the actions of Citizen Energy II, LLC, a Tulsa based, independent oil and gas operator. There are various Latin terms contained in their motion, but the gist of their argument is that the municipality, Mustang, Oklahoma, was within their right to only conditionally approve the permit to drill. Not only is this weird because the OIPA is supposed to advocate for independent oil and gas producers, but it sponsored legislation to hamstring municipalities' restrictions on drilling operations in 2015 (52. §O.S. 137.1).
In a quote from the OIPA's 2018 annual meeting invitation:
After years of oppressive regulation and months of low prices, we’re making the independent oil and natural gas industry great again. Come reflect on our success, plan for the future, expand your knowledge and take it easy at the legendary OIPA Annual Meeting.
Their words, not Berlin's. Who doesn't love greatness? Berlin would like to ask the OIPA how they define success (and legendary), but they would probably just say that it comes before work in the dictionary. Now, Berlin isn't arguing the validity of Mustang's case, she just finds it odd that the advocacy group is anti-advocating. Would it have been a better idea for the OIPA to keep its expensive opinions to itself? Its one thing to whisper to your attorney over a bloody at Cheever's and say "hey, why don't we hang Citizen out to dry?" It's quite another to be openly hostile and support Mustang.
The staff of the OIPA don't appear to be oil and gas folks, but their board appears to be comprised of industry professionals. Berlin is positive that one of the 80 board members own or are employed by companies who will attempt to drill a well inside a municipal boundary in the next year. Did they vote on this action? Weird.
It really isn't any surprise the OIPA fumbled this extremely easy to hold (easy_to_hold = nerf) football. Most Southern Oklahoma producers defected last year to form the Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance after they were disgusted with the OIPA's policies towards extricating Oklahomans from the financial tar bit that is the State's budget. The larger independents left before that to lead the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association. All groups advocate for crony capitalism and preferential treatment, but only the OIPA advocates for preferential treatment of groups that oppose the companies that compose its membership.
As 1stSgt Benny once yelled at a young Corporal for agreeing with a Lieutenant, "whose side are ****ing you on" it might be time to ask the crew over at the OIPA the same question, but in an "inside cat" tone of voice.
More to follow,