Two Pennsylvania oil and gas industry trade associations representing hundreds of companies will soon become one.
The Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Association (POGAM) will soon merge with the Independent Oil and Gas Association of Pennsylvania (IOGA).
Together, the groups will create PIOGA - the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association.
According to Craig Mayer, who is on POGAM's board of directors and will continue on PIOGA's, the change makes a lot of sense.
"It became apparent to all of us that were on the boards of directors that the... duality was unnecessary," Mayer said. "The industry interests are really the same; trying to distinguish one hydrocarbon from another didn't make much sense."
"I don't expect there to be any changes in regard to the industry interests or to the industry here," he said. "For reasons that have been lost to history, there developed two organizations regarding the oil and gas interests in the state of Pennsylvania."
POGAM historically represented oil production in the northwest and IOGA included more gas developers in the southwestern part of the state.
"It's a very friendly merger designed to make the most benefit of the resources that we have," he said.
The existing organizations each represent some 400 or 500 companies, Mayer said. Due to overlap in the memberships, PIOGA will umbrella about 700 companies.
The merger allows those companies who were members of both POGAM and IOGA to "quit spending our money in two places on the same thing," Mayer said.
All of the current members of both boards of directors will assume positions on the PIOGA board of directors. Several local companies will have people in those seats, including Pennsylvania General Energy, represented by Mayer, Minard Run Oil by current POGAM chairman Frederick Fesenmyer, and others. Fesenmyer will have a seat on the combined board, but officer positions will not be decided until the first PIOGA meeting to be held Thursday.
"By no means is there any loss of representation," Mayer said. "We view it as a positive - more members and resources available to deal with a lot of new issues."
Marcellus Shale development is not driving the merger, but it is playing a role in the timing.
"This has been looked at a number of times in the past," he said. "It seemed this time, somewhat because of the marcellus development, it was time to get on with what should have been done years ago."
The PIOGA headquarters will be located in Wexford.
The new group will have a bigger staff that will work to plan and implement PIOGA's mission. "We've done a couple hires," Mayer said.
"This merger is an important milestone in leveraging the industry's common goal to operate under a unified framework that advances the responsible exploration and production of both the Marcellus Shale and other oil and gas producing formations throughout the Appalachian Basin," Fesenmyer said. "The entire industry is experiencing unprecedented growth, and the importance of a united, cohesive industry and community advocate cannot be overstated."