A record number of applicants want to drill for natural gas and crude oil in the United States, with the combined permit total 4.7% higher than the same period in 2004, according to a survey by the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC). Of 24 states surveyed, 19 had higher well permits during the period, and most were for natural gas wells.

State revenue and taxing agencies also geared up for the increased production with many states collecting wellhead taxes nearly double the rate of 2003, according to the survey.

“State programs are very efficient,” said IOGCC executive director Christine Hansen. “They are designed to meet local needs, so they are far more flexible than a one-size-fits-all regulatory structure.”

States also are doing a good job keeping up with growing demands resulting from a high level of oil and gas exploration and production activity, she noted. In addition to drilling permits, states have various filings for oil field work throughout the life of a well. Regulatory programs can cover everything from initial permission to conduct seismic evaluations to the final plugging of a well and dozens of activities in between.

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