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Collaboration works to get electricity to remote Oklahoma oil field

A unique collaboration is making it easier for an Oklahoma electric cooperative to provide power for drilling operations in remote areas.
By Jay F. Marks, Business Writer Published: August 28, 2014

A collaboration involving the state’s oil industry, utility companies, academia and regulators is making it easier to get electricity to remote drilling sites.

Brandy Wreath, director of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s public utility division, said the arrangement is unique because oil companies and utilities normally don’t work together.

Wreath said the collaboration grew out of a 2012 town hall meeting with producers hosted by Commissioner Dana Murphy. Many producers complained about how problems with getting electricity to remote areas delayed their drilling plans.

He said officials at Oklahoma State University’s National Energy Solutions Institute worked with industry representatives and Stillwater’s Central Rural Electric Cooperative to make it easier for them to understand each other’s planning requirements.

“There’s just a lot of confusion out there,” Wreath said.

He said utility companies and oil producers typically work with data in different formats, which can prolong the planning process for both parties when they are forced to work together. Now they can share information via a web portal that simplifies the process for all involved.

“Everybody’s putting in the same information, in the same format,” Wreath said.

Tom Poteet, power systems manager at Devon Energy Corp., said the system makes it easier for Devon to communicate with the cooperative, whose territory includes most of Devon’s wells in the Mississippian.

He said the interface makes it easier for producers to enter service requests with Central Rural Electric Cooperative by eliminating the “data chaos” that had plagued the process.

Co-op CEO David Swank said the cooperative had reached out to the Corporation Commission about meeting the growing demand for electricity in its service area, which includes parts of seven counties in north central Oklahoma.

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