The oil and natural gas industry largely is made up of small, fiercely independent companies.
While those firms often work together to drill and produce multi-million-dollar wells, they also tend to maintain a strong sense of competition and distrust.
Competition can be especially fierce as companies vie for the best leases and for access to critical infrastructure, such as power lines, pipelines and access to market.
While heightened competition may work in some parts of the oil patch, the Mississippi Lime play of northern Oklahoma and western Kansas apparently requires more cooperation.
Three times over the past two weeks, I've heard industry leaders talk about the need to work together in the Mississippi Lime, one of the newest and higher-potential oil fields in the country.
Stretching up to about 20 million acres, the play has attracted the country's largest independent producers and the state's smaller and mid-size operators.
The land grab essentially is over, and producers are now testing drilling and completion techniques to get the most oil and natural gas out of the ground.
Because the play is so new and still largely untapped, cooperation is especially critical, said Robert Sullivan, owner of Tulsa-based Sullivan and Co. and chairman of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association.
“We should all make available to the industry our drilling, completion and production data on a more open and timely basis,” Sullivan said Wednesday at the Mississippi Lime Congress in Oklahoma City. “The faster we learn how best to drill, produce and complete the Mississippi rock, the sooner we will realize the rewards on our respective lease blocks and the greater those rewards will be.”