The good news and bad news for Oklahoma, because of a natural gas crunch

Friday, June 27th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A natural gas shortage could mean exploding prices. Across the country, the experts say we only have about half of the amount we need to make it through the winter.

News on 6 business reporter Steve Berg says it's probably the last thing on people's mind during the summer heat. But your winter gas bill will be going up. Maybe the highest since the winter of 2000.

Nobody's more worried than charities that say they're not nearly as well equipped to deal with heating assistance as in 2000. The Salvation Army's Paula Turley says donation's are way down. "We went from a $10,000 a month donations coming in through the ‘Share the Warmth’ program and $9,000 for ‘Light a Life’ to $2,500 for ‘Share the Warmth’ and $2,100 for ‘Light a Life.’" Oklahoma Natural Gas says they're stockpiling natural gas now to avoid an even bigger crunch this winter, but even so they say customers will be paying more.

The good news for Oklahoma is that unlike a lot of states, we also "sell" a lot of gas. That means more employees for oil and gas companies, more revenue for oil and gas companies, and more taxes paid on that revenue.

"7 percent of it goes straight to the state of Oklahoma. We pay a few hundred million dollars a year to the state of Oklahoma in the form of what's called a gross production tax." In fact, Dewey Bartlett with Keener Oil says the taxes from the natural gas industry in Oklahoma is one of the few things propping up the state budget. So while you may pay more on your heating bill, keep in mind you're in one of the few states that get some of it back.

Bartlett says part of the reason for the shortage is that gas companies are not allowed to drill in many areas, where it's believed there are vast reserves, including the East and West coasts, and the Rocky Mountains.