Oklahoma crude is trading at about a 20 percent discount to London's Brent crude due to the glut of oil in storage at Cushing, while natural gas prices have plummeted to near-historic lows.
Oklahoma Treasurer Ken Miller said such price variations illustrate why it is important for the state to support the oil and gas industry.
Miller said about one third of the state's $150 billion economy is tied to the industry, which also contributes about 12 percent of the state's revenue through gross production taxes.
He said that figure jumps to about 27 percent when factoring in the spillover impact from income and sales tax collections from industry employees.
“That doesn't include a lot of other taxes that are affected by the industry as well,” Miller said. “In other words, more than 25 cents out of every dollar spent by Oklahoma state government is provided thanks to the Oklahoma energy industry.
“That translates into better schools for our children, better roads and bridges and better public safety and safe neighborhoods.”
Evans said the oil and gas industry also is helping to diversify the state's labor pool because companies are hiring employees with a greater mix of skills.
“Within the walls of our producers in Oklahoma, the types of employees they require is changing considerably,” he said, noting massive increases in the number of compliance officers, auditors, accountants and network and computer systems administrators working in the industry.
Evans said that demand forces Oklahoma colleges and technology centers to provide training for a more diverse workforce, in turn creating a deeper labor pool for other industries.