PIOGA kicks off centennial celebration

Posted: January 5, 2018 12:51 pm

This year marks 100 years of this trade association working on behalf of Pennsylvania’s crude oil and natural gas industry. Actually not this trade association, as PIOGA was formed in 2010, but we can directly trace our roots to 1918 and the founding of the Pennsylvania Oil, Gas and Minerals Association. Minerals” later was dropped from the organization’s formal name, but the “M” stuck around in the acronym POGAM.

Unfortunately, a fire in March 1986 gutted the building housing POGAM’s office in Bradford, and the organization’s historic records were lost. We can’t tell you about the issues that consumed the association in its early days. However, we can relate some of the more recent facts about how we came to be the organization we are today.

From its beginnings in 1918 until the 1970s, POGAM was primarily focused on the shallow oil industry in northwestern Pennsylvania. There were natural gas producers who belonged to the organization and the association did deal with issues that affected those producers as well.

There were, however, major changes looming in the natural gas industry in the United States. The federal government had set the wellhead price of natural gas since the Philips Petroleum decision in 1954. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) kept prices artificially low, creating a major supply shortfall for interstate markets at the same time intrastate prices had risen at market prices which encouraged adequate supplies on the intrastate market. The discussion of deregulation of wellhead prices was followed by discussion of unbundling of the delivery process from the purchase process.

Traditionally, the interstate pipeline companies and local distribution companies sold a bundled service and supply of commodity sales bundled with delivery and storage services to the end user. The discussions that raged nationally as well as here in Pennsylvania encouraged natural gas producers to become active participants in these discussions. In early 1979, natural gas producers met for lunch at the Duquesne Club in Pittsburgh to discuss a new organization to focus and address these and other natural gas issues.

The Pennsylvania Natural Gas Associates (PNGA) was born as a result. The group focused on these FERC issues, the Natural Gas Policy Act and qualification of Pennsylvania’s natural gas producing sands as “tight sands” for FERC incentive pricing, the precursor of true free market commodity pricing.

As PNGA began to attract producers who were oil as well as natural gas producers, the name was changed to the Independent Oil and Gas Association of Pennsylvania. IOGA of Pennsylvania and POGAM both worked hard in representing the industry in Pennsylvania and generally cooperated on legislative and regulatory matters.

In 2008, the newly arrived shale producers from the southwestern U.S. met with POGAM and IOGA-PA representatives to address the new and unique challenges of unconventional natural gas development in Pennsylvania. The result was the creation of the joint Marcellus Shale Committee of the two associations. A year later, in 2009, this group split from the existing state associations and formed the Marcellus Shale Coalition, a standalone organization.

Agreeing that the time was right to join forces, POGAM and IOGA-PA merged in April 2010 to form the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association. We look forward to seeing what the second century of oil and natural gas producer representation holds in store for PIOGA.

To celebrate our centennial, we are rolling out the accompanying logo. Watch for centennial-themed events throughout 2018.

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