Mississippi Oil and Gas Board Executive Director Lisa Ivshin reports oil prices during a Mississippi House of Representatives Energy Committee meeting. Committee chairwoman Rep. Angela Cockerham, D-Magnolia, looks on.

The dip in oil and gas prices over the past couple of years has dried up production in the state, but things are looking up, according to the Mississippi Oil and Gas Board.

Board officials said oil and gas prices could start to improve by 2018. To meet those demands, the board seeks extra support from the state.

Lisa Ivshin, executive director of the Mississippi Oil and Gas Board, presented at a House Energy Committee meeting Wednesday about Mississippi oil and gas production and the role the board plays in making sure those operations runs smoothly.

While it is difficult to predict future oil prices, Ivshin said she feels that the state may experience an uptick soon.

“I do feel that it can’t go down,” Ivshin said. “It has to go up at a certain point. Hopefully, it will soon, maybe by 2018.”

In the meantime, Ivshin said the board needs more well inspectors. Right now, the 32-person agency has eight positions available, seven of which are filled, but the board needs nine inspectors total, she said.

“We have over 30,000 wells,” Ivshin said. “We got to have (a) more physical presence there. We visit each well four times a year, and it sounds great, but some wells need more inspections.”

Other requests Ivshin touched on included upgrading the board’s electronic well database so that it could generate diagrams of local wells.

Although she couldn’t pinpoint exactly how much the database upgrade would cost during the meeting, she said the system the board already has in place costs about $1.5 million.

Energy Committee Chairwoman Rep. Angela Cockerham, D-Magnolia, said she is hopeful for oil and gas production in the U.S., citing an announcement from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, in November that the cartel would reduce oil production.

“I’m hoping that will help alleviate some tensions here that we’re having nationally,” Cockerham said.

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