Bill Eliminating Relief For Struggling Oklahoma Oil Producers Moves Forward

Monday, May 16th 2016, 4:55 pm
By: Karl Torp

Smaller oil producers say Oklahoma Lawmakers are squeezing them out of business. Due to the budget cuts, lawmakers are trying to get rid of a program that helps these producers from closing wells when prices get this low.

There are 80,000 marginal wells that don't produce a lot of oil each day. Their owners still pay a tax to the state. Now many producers need help and aren't getting it from lawmakers.

“It’s tough. You think about it constantly,” said oilman Hearne Williford of Williford Resources.

Williford planned to ask for the gross production tax rebate for 2016 after flood waters severely reduced production at his wells in south Oklahoma.

“I absolutely need it this year,” Williford said.

Lawmakers debated capping the fund this year to save millions. The Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association thought it negotiated  a $25-million cap with lawmakers, but senators just passed a bill which eliminates the program altogether. The move saves the state an estimated $135 million.

“I'm looking at $90,000. I could use that at this time,” said Williford.

"We were told by the tax commission that seven companies were getting $130 million of that rebate back. They were NASDAQ companies. All of the people I know don't have stocks and wall street money behind us,” said Darlene Wallace of Columbus Oil out of Seminole.

Senate bill 1577 passed the senate and goes to the house this week.