Many such lateral lines can be drilled from a single platform, and they sometimes extend up to two miles from the drill site. Harold Hamm, chairman and president of Continental Resources headquartered in Oklahoma City, was an early pioneer of these expensive, challenging and sometimes controversial techniques. I’m proud to say that Harold, now Oklahoma’s richest person, was also a classmate of mine in Lexington.
My background in the energy industry is twofold. First, both of my grandfathers and my father spent the majority of their working lives
looking for oil and gas in Oklahoma.
Two went bankrupt, and one experienced success. I still have a vivid memory at age 6 when one of my father’s wells near Loco caught fire. We all survived, but the danger of the “ohl bidness” remains seared in my mind. Second, my legislative service over a period of 28 years exposed me to many facets of this com plex, compelling and critically important segment of our state’s economy.
I tell you of my background because it has a bearing on one of the most important decisions the Oklahoma Legislature must make either during the upcoming 2014 session or the one in 2015.
In the simplest terms, lawmakers must decide whether to retain, change or repeal two extremely lucrative tax credits involving hundreds of millions of dollars for companies drilling in our state. One deals with deep and horizontal wells, and the other delineates the length of time such financial benefits can be claimed.
I was directly involved in the passage of both, one in 1994 and the other in 2003.
During those periods, about 85 percent of wells drilled were strictly vertical, while today, the exact opposite is true.
Therefore, the question posited is:
Since horizontal drilling/fracking has become the norm, not the exception, are these tax benefits just corporate welfare or a continuing necessity for the health, vibrancy and expansion of Oklahoma’s most important industry?
The answer to that question is among the most important ones our solons will address over the next 24 months. And since I already know, from legislative experience and energy involvement, what the politicians at the Capitol will do, feel free to ask me. For a small fee, like a cup of java, I’ll tell you when we meet at Kitchen 324. For SandRidge Energy, Devon Energy and Continental Resources smarties, it’s a short walk, and you need the exercise anyway.
Opinions expressed on the commentary page, in letters to the editor and elsewhere in this newspaper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ownership or management.
Hobson is a former president pro tempore of the Oklahoma State Senate.