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Energy Companies Fuel Oklahoma

Oklahoma has long been known as an energy state, a position reinforced by the presence of eight energy firms among the state's top 10 public companies.
Jay F. Marks
November 14, 2010

Oklahoma is an energy state, as evidenced by the glut of such companies atop the ranking of the state's top public companies.

Eight of the top 10 companies in this year's Oklahoma Inc. list are energy companies, led by Enid's Continental Resources Inc.

That contingent includes coal-fueled stalwarts Alliance Holdings GP LP and Alliance Resource Partners LP, the only two of the state's many energy companies to maintain their top 10 ranking from last year.

The other energy firms among this year's elite include two specializing in the hunt for oil and four others heavily involved in the pipeline business.

Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association President Mike Terry said the glut of energy companies on the list shows the importance of the oil and natural gas industry.
"With six of the top 10 and 20 of the 36 listed companies coming from the oil and natural gas industry, our state must continue to support and encourage the development and use of Oklahoma resources,” Terry said.

"Oil producers, like Continental Resources, and producers with balanced crude oil and natural gas production have fared best in the past year, with the use of improved drilling technology and hydraulic fracturing unlocking vast new resources.

The past year was a tough one for contract drilling companies such as Unit Corp. and Bronco Drilling, which posted the largest drop in revenues by percentage, Oklahoma City University economist Steve Agee said.

"Obviously the continued suppressed price of natural gas and the slack demand for energy in general have driven this trend,” he said.

Agee said the rankings show companies focusing on natural gas exploration are struggling more than their counterparts.

Continental CEO Harold Hamm has long been known for his thirst for crude oil. That is paying dividends for his company.

"A lot of people are very envious of the position that Continental has with crude oil,” Hamm said.

Terry said natural gas remains an important commodity for Oklahoma.

"Natural gas continues to be a defining natural resource for our state, with approximately 80 percent of all drilling rigs active in Oklahoma exploring for it,” he said. "The vast majority of the natural gas produced from under our feet is used outside of our state.

"We must promote the use of natural gas within our own borders through power generation, transportation and manufacturing.”