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Elk City in western Oklahoma benefits from geography, geology, vision

The oil boom in western Oklahoma has caused Elk City to become a boom town.
by Adam Wilmoth Modified: August 9, 2012 at 6:50 pm •  Published: August 10, 2012

The renewed search for oil in western Oklahoma has turned communities throughout the region into boom towns again.

Many communities across northern and western Oklahoma have benefitted greatly from the economic growth created by oil and natural gas drilling.

Unemployment rates in the region are among the lowest in the country.

New hotels and restaurants are under construction throughout the area.

Property values are surging as newcomers struggle to find homes.

In Elk City, geography, geology and community vision have combined to help the town of nearly 12,000 people become one of the key centers of the trend.

Elk City is located along Interstate 40 almost exactly halfway between Oklahoma City and Amarillo, making it a logical location to service drilling activity throughout the area. The community is easily accessible to businesses and customers in the two larger cities about two and a half hours away.

Geology also plays a key role. Like much of western Oklahoma, Elk City lies atop multiple, rich layers of rock oozing with oil and natural gas. Some plays near the area have as many as eight layers of rock rich with oil and natural gas.

But unlike many areas in western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle, Elk City has plenty of water. The community is on the edge of an aquifer, providing it access to billions of gallons of water that is sometimes harder to find farther west.

Past experience with previous oil booms also led Elk City leaders to invest in a strong water system, providing the community with a daily water capacity of nearly twice its current daily volumes.

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by Adam Wilmoth
Energy Editor
Adam Wilmoth returned to The Oklahoman as energy editor in 2012 after working for four years in public relations. He previously spent seven years as a business reporter at The Oklahoman, including five years covering the state's energy sector....
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