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Greater Tulsa Reporter


Oklahoma Oil and Gas Producer Group Wants Tax Restoration



A new association of small oil and natural gas producers held a rally at the State Capitol April to advance their strong support for two issues facing lawmakers this session.

The Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance (OEPA) is comprised entirely of small, privately-owned oil and natural gas producers from all corners of the state, according to co-chair Lee Levinson, Tulsa attorney and oilman.

“We are the traditional oil and natural gas producers. We are a new group but not new to the industry or to Oklahoma,” Levinson says. “Our companies, owners, employees and vendors are spread out all across our state. We are Oklahomans first and many of us have been in business for several decades.”

OEPA leaders said the fledgling group’s agenda may come as a shock to most Oklahomans. Former Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr., a lifelong advocate for small oil producers, will join the list of speakers at the rally.

“Our new group supports restoring the gross production tax to seven percent across-the-board,” Bartlett, owner of Keener Oil and Gas in Tulsa, says. “The fact that Oklahoma – a state with prolific oil and gas reserves and the nation’s best oil industry regulatory climate – already has the lowest tax rate in the nation at the historical seven percent rate should be good enough. But letting horizontal drillers tap into oil we have found and upon which we pay seven percent tax, and in many cases destroying those wells, replacing them with wells paying only two percent tax, makes no sense. We must face the stark reality that state government is bankrupt. We are staring at a second straight billion-dollar deficit in state funding. Our schools are in a funding crisis. Other state services are being decimated. We believe the oil industry should stand up and agree that returning the oil and gas production tax to its historical level demonstrates our commitment to help solve this serious state budget crisis.”

Bartlett said restoring the gross production tax from two percent to seven percent on all oil and natural gas would generate an additional $200-250 million/year. “Perhaps it’s ironic that this proposed tax restoration could cover the cost of the teacher pay raise. Or perhaps not.”

Bartlett says he and many traditional producers have been in the oil business for generations. “We don’t take it lightly that our industry, once the bulwark of the state economy and the state tax base, has been out here cutting special deals. Our group will support what is best for all Oklahomans. We can be profitable with restoring a seven percent gross production tax, even with relatively depressed oil prices.”
 

Updated 04-24-2017

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