January 25, 2013

Local governments prepare for energy boom

James Bright, Managing Editor,
The Express-Star

CHICKASHA — Interest in the South Central Oklahoma Oil Province has been steadily rising over the past few months and seems poised to increase as Continental Resources adds several rigs over the course of 2013.

Tuttle City Manager Tim Young said although no new drilling contracts have been passed, Tuttle already has several wells operating within the city.

"We already have about 70 wells in our city," he said.

The city owns a little over 210 acres that can be leased according to Young.

"We are aware of what could potentially get ready to happen with the potential drilling boom, and are in the process of reviewing our regulations for such," he said.

Much of the land that will be leased is privately owned and Grady County Tax Assessor Bari Firestone said energy companies tend to buy from private land owners more frequently than from government bodies.

"They will send a representative down here that will drive around and find some land they want to work on," she said. "Then we will try and find the person that owns the land."

Chickasha City Manager Stewart Fairburn said although there numerous wells operating in Chickasha proper, there hasn't been too much large of influx just yet.

"Right now we are just dealing with businesses and getting prepared for what's eventually to come," he said.

District Three County Commissioner Jack Porter said the county has not been approached recently about drilling leases for energy companies, but he said he expects an area north of Rush Springs could be land of interest.

"Aside from that, it's not likely they're going to line up and lease from us because we simply don't have that much to lease."

Although Continental Resources plans to increase their production rather dramatically, Director of Corporate Development and Government Relations for Chesapeake Energy James Roller said Chesapeake does not have plans to put boots on the ground in Grady County in the near future.

"At this time our focus remains on our assets in western and northwestern Oklahoma," he said.

Despite Chesapeake's disinterest, Continental Resources told The Express-Star in December that production from the SCOOP is a top priority and that expectations should be high.