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Oklahoma judge to recommend regulators rule oil production 'economic waste'

(Reuters) - An Oklahoma Judge will recommend the state’s oil and gas regulator approve an emergency order declaring oil production in the state could constitute economic waste, a spokesman for the state’s Corporation Commission (OCC) said on Friday.

The administrative law judge intends to write the recommendation in response to an application submitted by producer LPD Energy Company, the OCC said. If approved by regulators, the motion could allow companies to shut-in wells without losing leases that sometimes require drilling.

Oil prices have plunged some 60% since the start of the year and on Friday were trading under $19 a barrel - far below most companies’ cost of production. Oil producers in Texas and Oklahoma have urged state regulators to use their authority to help stabilize prices through production limits and other measures.

Oklahoma regulators could issue a ruling on LPD’s application as soon as next week, the OCC said.

Trade group Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance also filed a separate application that asked regulators to set limits on oil production. The OCC will hear arguments on that application on May 11.

Texas regulators earlier this week held a 10-hour hearing with dozens of producers, pipeline operators and environmentalists on proposed production limits. Shale producers Pioneer Natural Resources and Parsley Energy have led the call for cuts, while other major firms, such as Exxon Mobil and Occidental Corp, opposed the plan.

Reporting by Liz Hampton; Editing by Sandra Maler and Daniel Wallis

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