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Oil industry's significance returns to 1982-levels

Oil and natural gas activity in the state has nearly doubled over the past decade.
by Adam Wilmoth Modified: January 15, 2014 at 1:31 pm •  Published: January 15, 2014

Oil and natural gas activity in the state has nearly doubled over the past decade and has helped boost jobs, salaries and tax collections statewide, according to a report released Tuesday by the State Chamber.

The report found that the state is as dependent on the oil and gas industry today as it was in 1982, with 13.5 percent of the statewide total earnings derived from the industry.

“To me, the most important part of the report is that the degree of growth and influence of the industry over the past 10 years is much larger than I think most people recognize here in the state,” said Mark Snead, economist and author of the report.

“It has been a dramatic revival within the industry. It's not just a nice surge in the industry. It has been a full-blown revival of the industry.”

Oil and natural gas employment has doubled over the past decade to 57,500, and average compensation per worker ballooned to $110,000 in 2012, the report stated.

The industry now hires 5 percent of the state's wage and salary workers and pays 7.2 percent of all employee compensation in the state.

“The impact of the oil and gas industry runs through lots of different facets of our economy,” State Chamber CEO Fred Morgan said.

The report also showed the industry's significance to state coffers.

“The oil and gas industry is the largest single source of tax revenue in the state, paying total direct state taxes of $1.96 billion in 2012, or more than 22 percent of all state taxes,” the report stated.

Oil and natural gas companies drilled 3,050 wells in the state in 2012, a figure that nearly doubled over the past 10 years.

State oil production has doubled since early 2010 to an annual rate of 120 million barrels. Natural gas production is up almost 50 percent to 2.2 trillion cubic feet per year.

The report also focused on the risk oil and natural gas producers take when they drill a well.

At an average of $3.85 million per well, the industry spent $11.7 billion in drilling expenditures in 2012, setting drilling costs equal to the inflation-adjusted level from 1981 at the height of the oil boom.

Legislative struggle

The report was issued less than a month before the start of a legislative session that promises to focus on taxes for the oil and natural gas industry.

At issue is the gross production tax energy companies pay on oil and natural gas produced in Oklahoma through horizontal drilling.

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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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