Governor, UO president to lobby for Oklahoma headquarters

Wednesday, December 5th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Gov. Frank Keating and University of Oklahoma President David Boren plan to travel to Houston to ask executives of ConocoPhillips to put its headquarters in Oklahoma.

Houston-based Conoco Inc. and Phillips Petroleum Co. of Bartlesville announced on Nov. 18 that they would merge and be based in Houston. Conoco chairman Archie Dunham later said there was no chance that Oklahoma leaders could persuade executives to put the merged company's corporate offices in Oklahoma.

Keating and Boren, who sits on Phillips' board of directors, plan to visit with Dunham and Phillips chairman James J. Mulva, but the date of the meeting has not been confirmed, said Dan Mahoney, a spokesman for the governor.

Mahoney said the state will explore all options necessary to attract ConocoPhillips, including developing a proposal tailored for either Oklahoma City or Tulsa.

``The governor would be thrilled to have the headquarters in Oklahoma,'' Mahoney said.

Keating has said he would like to entice the merged company to locate its headquarters in Oklahoma by offering tax incentives or other rewards.

Phillips is the state's largest publicly held company and one of only four Oklahoma corporations on the Fortune 500, a ranking of public companies with the most revenue.

But Dunham, who will be chairman of the combined company, said it makes more sense to base ConocoPhillips in a global corporate center such as Houston rather than Bartlesville.

Access to direct flights from Houston to countries worldwide where ConocoPhillips will do business was a major consideration, along with the availability of cultural, educational and entertainment amenities for executives, Dunham said.

Most major oil companies and service contractors are based in Houston or have a substantial presence there, making it more convenient and efficient to conduct business from a Houston base, he said.