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KEATING leads dedication, salute to oil industry

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Gov. Frank Keating led state leaders on Wednesday in the dedication of renovated Capitol oil well derricks as part of activities leading to the celebration of Oklahoma's 100th birthday in 2007.

During the ceremony in front of Phillips 66's Petunia No. 1 well across from the Capitol's south steps, leaders paid homage to the oil industry.

``Oil made Oklahoma,'' said Denise Bode, Corporation Commission chairman. ``It ushered the state into the 20th Century and gave it an economic base that for decades allowed continued development.''

Oklahoma's Capitol was the only one in the nation to have active oil wells on its grounds, but the wells fell in disrepair over the years, Keating said.

``Today, the wells are sporting new paint, fencing, landscaping and signage _ all designed to enhance the look and image of the wells and the entire Capitol complex,'' the governor said.

``The wells tell the documented history of Oklahoma's oil industry to thousands of visitors each year and will certainly complement the Capitol dome that's under construction and other Centennial projects,'' he added.

Dedicated Tuesday were the spruced-up Petunia well and the M. Francis No. 1 Helmerich and Payne well north of the Capitol.

Meanwhile, workmen are busy dismantling the Lincoln Terrace No. 1 rig, which is being moved to the future home of the Oklahoma History Center.

The Capitol wells were part of the prolific Oklahoma City oil field, once the second most productive field in the United States. Over the last 60 years, most of the wells have been removed. The remaining wells have been converted to produce natural gas.

The oil derrick improvements will cost an estimated $1.6 million, with some of the money coming from private donations by the oil industry.

It will complement a $4.6 million Capitol grounds improvement project that is in addition to the $21 million Capitol dome project.
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