Alliance opposes videoconferencing by regulators

The state’s major oil and gas group has come out against proposed rules from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission that would allow teleconference or video conferences for protested issues.

The Petroleum Alliance of Oklahoma has filed a memo with the state regulators opposing draft amendments to the commission’s rules of practice which were proposed in February,

“We question the use of telephonic or videoconferencing during contested cases,” stated the Alliance in its filing with the commission. “We believe that the protestant as well as the administrative law judge must be present during protested hearings.”

The Alliance indicated there are too many technical issues and a videoconference might affect a judge’s ability to see the person and read body language and to adequately cross examine. The association contended that a low bandwidth might cause “freezing of the video, time lag between speaking and response, long delays, and choppy audio.”

“The Alliance members do not have any issues doing an unprotested hearing via teleconference or video conference but feel very strongly that a protestant appear in person at a hearing,” stated Bud Ground, the Alliance’s Director of Regulatory Affairs, when asked about the issue by OK Energy Today. “Some is due to video and telephone service in various parts of the state and since the protestant must be sworn in for their testimony and are not allowed to have anyone help them during their testimony and it is difficult to cross examine the witness since they cannot view documents, etc.”

Ground indicated that the Oil and Gas Conservation Division at the OCC is working on changes to the proposed rules that will say that all parties must agree to appear by video or teleconference. He believes those changes will allow a choice.