OIPA members voted Tuesday, Nov. 6, and Wednesday, Nov. 7, on whether to merge with OKOGA, Oklahoma's other largest oil and gas association. (William W. Savage III)

OIPA and OKOGA — Oklahoma’s two largest oil and gas advocacy associations — are merging about two years after a disagreement over well-spacing legislation created tension among industry leaders.

Once the legislation termed “long laterals” passed, the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association and the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association largely unified in efforts to oppose changes to the state’s 36-month incentive rate for gross production taxes on oil and gas wells.

Ultimately, they were unsuccessful, as lawmakers increased the incentive rate from 2 percent to 5 percent. But voters loudly rebuked further calls for even higher oil and gas taxes Tuesday by defeating Democratic gubernatorial candidate Drew Edmondson.

The associations formally announced their merger this morning via press release that noted they will operate as OIPA-OKOGA while a new name is developed by early 2019.

“The OIPA and OKOGA represent virtually all of the public and private oil and gas companies actively investing capital in Oklahoma today,” said OKOGA Chairman Wade Hutchings, senior vice president of exploration and production at Devon Energy. “Alignment between the two associations is at an all-time high, with both groups pursuing very similar agendas on behalf of their members, some of whom are part of both associations. I welcome this merger and believe the two entities together will serve as one voice, advocating for a stronger and more diversified Oklahoma economy that’s proud of our energy history and future.”

OIPA Chairman Barry Mullennix also praised the decision, which OIPA members cast ballots to approve during Tuesday and Wednesday voting.

“This is a historic moment for Oklahoma’s oil and natural gas industry,” said Mullennix, president and CEO of Panther Energy Company. “The OIPA and OKOGA have established themselves as the nation’s leading advocates for the men and women of Oklahoma’s oil and natural gas industry. By joining forces, the larger, stronger association created will be better able to represent our members and ensure the state’s defining industry is well represented at the state Capitol, in Washington, D.C., and in the regulatory arenas where the business interests of our members lie.”

The OIPA and OKOGA merger leaves the Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance as the industry’s primary association alternative, which represents a group of vertical well drillers. The OEPA championed higher gross production taxes in 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions.

Background on OIPA and OKOGA

Founded in 1955, OIPA has described itself as Oklahoma’s largest oil and natural gas advocacy group, representing more than 2,000 members in the crude oil and natural gas exploration and production industry or affiliated businesses.

Formed in 1919, OKOGA has described itself as one of the oldest energy trade organizations in the U.S. Members include oil and natural gas producers, operators, purchasers, pipelines, transporters, processors and other companies that employ tens of thousands of Oklahomans.