In a lot of ways, the story of Tulsa, Oklahoma, is the story of the U.S. oil and gas industry. Once the focal point of energy production, it fell on hard times. Today, however, things are looking up.
The cover story for this issue was a pleasure to write, as Tulsa’s business community and city leadership seems so dedicated toward keeping its leading industry strong. The increase in oil and gas production going on around Tulsa and in Oklahoma in general may one day be described as its third oil boom.
Tulsa’s first two oil booms in 1901-1907 and 1915-1930 led to the former frontier settlement becoming a booming metropolis and being labeled “Oil Capital of the World.” Today, shale oil and gas development is driving a resurgence in the city’s oil and gas industry. Unemployment is below 5 percent in Tulsa, but Mayor Dewey Bartlett says the city is seeing a secondary benefit from the oil and gas industry: learning from how the industry conducts business.
“One thing that is interesting to me is the whole concept of making a deal in the energy industry,” says Bartlett, a third generation oilman in his own right. “It’s not just isolated to the oil and gas industry. It’s also become imbedded in the larger business community in Tulsa. They understand very well how to make a business transaction, they know how to accept risk, but also how to minimize risk. Having experienced that in the oil and gas industry has permeated to
After the “oil bust” in the 1980s, many companies that were based in Tulsa moved to Houston where offshore drilling had become the focal point of U.S. energy production. However, many midstream companies, service providers and manufacturers stayed. The industry is still the No. 1 employer in Tulsa, Bartlett says, and the city still remains second in oil and gas related jobs in the United States.
Oklahoma ranks fifth in oil production in the country and is one of the top natural gas producers as well. With production in the Mississippi Lime and other nearby shale plays — and considering the state’s pipeline, storage and refining infrastructure — business is booming. It’s a trend we’re seeing all across the United States, with Marcellus and Utica, the Bakken, Eagle Ford and many other shale plays.
Along with Canada’s efforts to improve its oil and gas export capabilities, as seen in this issue’s quarterly pipeline report, North America is fast returning itself to prominence when it comes to energy production and supply. It’s a trend reported by industry studies, and one that we’re starting to see bear fruit. This is an exciting time to be a part of the oil and gas industry and its rebirth.