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Oklahoma's top publicly traded companies tilt toward energy

Twelve of the top 13 ranked companies in Oklahoma Inc. are in the energy business, but there is great diversity in those firms. Their focus ranges from exploration and production to service to equipment to synthetic fuels.
by Don Mecoy Published: November 11, 2012

Oklahoma's publicly traded companies are a supercharged reflection of the state economy's heavy tilt toward energy.

The state, which strove mightily to diversify its energy-based economy after the oil bust in the late 1980s and 1990s, has returned to its petroleum-laden roots.

Oklahomans' personal earnings from oil and gas in 2008 exceeded the levels of the late 1970s and early 1980s and may again in 2012 when those numbers are compiled, according to figures provided by Federal Reserve Economist Chad Wilkerson.

While the energy sector's shares of employment and economic output in the state are lower than in the earlier boom, they are approaching those levels, said Wilkerson, head of the Oklahoma City Federal Reserve Branch office.

Twelve of the top 13 ranked companies in Oklahoma Inc. are in the energy business, but there is great diversity in the firms. Their focus ranges from exploration and production to service, equipment and synthetic fuels.

The top-ranked company, Continental Resources Inc., has grown from modest beginnings by founder Harold Hamm into an instrumental developer of the huge Bakken oil field in North Dakota. The company recently unveiled its newest oil field in its home state of Oklahoma.

Hamm, a wildcatter at heart who started an oil-field service company in 1967 with a single truck, built Continental Resources with an emphasis on oil, which put him at odds with many of his fellow Oklahoma energy leaders. Hamm took Continental public in June 2007, which made him a billionaire because of his majority stake in the company.

Forbes magazine recently estimated Hamm's net worth at nearly $10 billion, placing him among the 35 wealthiest Americans. The chief energy adviser to Mitt Romney, Hamm recently testified before Congress about energy policies and touted new technologies, including hydraulic fracturing, that have unleashed huge new supplies of natural gas and oil.

The firm recently forecast that it expects to boost its oil production to more than 100 million barrels of oil equivalent in the next five years. Based on the numbers provided by S&P Capital IQ, Continental ranked second among the state's publicly traded companies in revenue growth, and third in earnings growth in the year ending June 30.

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by Don Mecoy
Business Editor
Business Editor Don Mecoy has covered business news for more than a decade after earlier working on The Oklahoman's city, state and metro news desks, including a stint as city editor. He has won state and regional journalism awards for business,...
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