Oklahoma is second only to Texas in desirability to invest in the oil and gas industry, The Fraser Institute concluded in a recent study.
Oklahoma’s land division makes the state a good prospect for oil and gas, a state energy official said.
"We have a very small amount of federal land, and the current administration is not very kind to the concept of leasing federal lands to companies to drill for oil and gas," Dewey Bartlett, chairman of Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance, told The Center Square. "Most of Oklahoma's land is either privately owned, or in some cases, owned by the state of Oklahoma, and the state of Oklahoma is very supportive of drilling for oil and natural gas."
So supportive, Bartlett said, that the industry is a part of the state's collective DNA.
"The general regulatory environment is very positive," Bartlett said. "The oil and gas industry is regulated by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, and they are very supportive of the oil and gas industry, very supportive of drilling and production. They do understand the industry and how it works, and they do understand that developing mineral rights in the state of Oklahoma is very good business. It supports jobs, it pays huge amounts of money to the mineral owners, plus every barrel of oil and NCF gas that's sold triggers a very significant amount of money as a gross production tax to the state of Oklahoma."
Bartlett said future investment in the industry will bring a significant amount of money to the state, for both payroll and various jobs.
"Most of the drilling activity is done in rural Oklahoma, and the industry does pay very good salaries," Bartlett said. "They have very good benefits. And in many areas of rural Oklahoma, there really aren't too many options for good, high-paying jobs. So when the oil and gas industry shows up, they usually stick around for several decades and provide a very good living for people in those areas."
Looking to the future and toward alternate sources of energy, Bartlett said all forms of energy need to have a seat at the table.
"I think that practically anybody that's in the oil and gas business will understand that the alternatives are a very smart idea," Bartlett said. "They really understand the concept of energy and how necessary it is to our well-being, to our country, to our national security, etc. And we understand very well that we don't want to rely upon just one source, or a few sources of energy when so many are available to us."