The decision by ConocoPhillips to pull its membership from the Alaska Oil and Gas Association (AOGA) leaves the lobbying group with its shortest membership roster since the group was formed in 1966.

The group now has 16 members. During the late 1970s and early 1980s AOGA had 35 members. Industry mergers and acquisitions are the main reason membership has declined, AOGA Deputy Director Marilyn Crockett told NGI. Crockett would not disclose how much ConocoPhillips had been paying the organization in dues. In the past as membership declined AOGA sought to make up the shortfall by cutting its budget. Crockett said that also will be the case this time around. Any shortfall that can't be made up could result in an increase in dues. "There's a good chance [members] will experience an increase of some kind," she said.

ConocoPhillips, whose predecessor companies had been AOGA members since the group's inception, said it was leaving AOGA because it has many of its own staffers working on the same regulatory and government affairs tasks that AOGA covers. While Crockett said AOGA is disappointed to see ConocoPhillips leave, there is hope that the company might rejoin some time in the future. She said no other departures are expected.

ConocoPhillips is one of a trio of companies, along with BP and ExxonMobil, that has been negotiating with Alaska to develop a natural gas pipeline to Canada that would ultimately serve the Lower 48 (see NGI, Sept. 11). BP spokesman Daren Beaudo told NGI that the company is "very supportive of AOGA" and plans to remain a member. An ExxonMobil spokesperson told NGI that the company would remain an AOGA member.

Through its board of directors, five standing committees, and several work groups, AOGA develops common industry positions and provides input on local, state, and national legislative and administrative actions that affect the petroleum industry in Alaska.

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