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White House to Set Up Panel to Review Industry

White House to Set Up Panel to Review Industry

Clinton administration officials met with major and independent producers at the White House yesterday and assured them that a high-level group would be established to examine the conditions that are contributing to the depressed state of the oil and gas industry.

The panel will be headed by Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, and will include officials from "relevant departments or agencies," such as Energy, Treasury, Commerce and Interior, said Gil Thurm, president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA).

"The meeting was designed to raise the awareness level of the administration" with respect to the oil and gas industry. "We think that was accomplished. The administration officials proved to be good listeners," he noted.

During a more than one-hour meeting, the IPAA and other industry groups called on Clinton officials to "start paying [more] attention" to the domestic industry and its strategic importance and economic value to the nation, said IPAA Chairman George Yates. They further asked the administration to state "very clearly" that it was not going "to preside over the collapse of the industry," he noted.

Attending the session were White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson and representatives from four major petroleum industry associations - the IPAA, the American Petroleum Institute, the Domestic Petroleum Council and U.S. Oil and Gas.

The discussion centered on the "shrinkage" of the industry, which lost more than 40,000 jobs last year; the potential for a marginal well tax credit, the alternative minimum tax and other E&P reforms, according to Yates. "But we did not have a chance to go into any details" on the issues, Thurm said, adding this would be left to the panel that the administration plans to set up.

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