Oil, gas lobby groups to merge

Washington, D.C.’s major oil industry lobbying group is taking over the association representing natural gas drillers, the organizations announced on Wednesday.

Taking over the younger America's Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) will make the American Petroleum Institute (API), one of the top lobbying associations in Washington, an even greater powerhouse.

The groups have become aligned on most major policy debates in recent years, owing largely to the extensive natural gas production by oil companies and the need to defend fossil fuels writ large. Despite the competition between the two fuels in markets like transportation, the lobby groups have rarely disagreed publicly.

“There is a natural synergy between our organizations,” API head Jack Gerard said in a Wednesday statement.

“As a single organization, the combined skills and capabilities bring an enhanced advocacy strength to natural gas market development — ANGA’s primary mission — and the combined association’s expanded membership will provide additional lift to API’s ongoing efforts on important public policy issues.”

Marty Durbin, ANGA’s chief and a former API official, will head a new division at the oil group dedicated to market development.

The merger had been rumored for months and first reported by Politico, though the groups declined to speak publicly about the negotiations until Wednesday.

API has firmly placed oil exports as its top policy priority, trying to undo the 40-year-old near ban on shipping crude outside the United States.

ANGA’s policy fights usually revolve around drilling regulations, including fighting against hydraulic fracturing limitations and rules like the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed standards to limit methane leaks from oil and gas drilling.

API spent $9.09 million lobbying Congress last year, the most of any trade group in the energy sphere. ANGA spent only $1.37 million.

The gas group was founded only in 2009 as the shale gas revolution took hold through advanced drilling techniques like fracking and horizontal drilling.

The merger will become effective Jan. 1, the associations said.