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Energy Index Rebounds on Jobs Gains

New workers in Oklahoma’s oil and natural gas industry helped push the Oklahoma Energy Index higher after retreating oil and natural gas prices sent the index the opposite direction a month earlier.

Oil and natural gas employment added 400 jobs in September with half of the jobs in the drilling and mining support sector. Industry wage and salary employment now stands at 61,300, the highest level in the index period beginning in 2000. Total full and part-time oil and gas employment in the state is now approaching levels not seen since the early 1980s.

“Although oil prices have come down, we continue to see good activity in the industry,” said Chris Mostek, Vice President of Energy Lending for Bank SNB. “Independent operators have been nimble in redeploying their capital, and there is an innovation and adaptability that runs deep in Oklahoma’s energy industry that serves us well in times like these.”

The energy index is a comprehensive measure of the state’s oil and natural gas production economy established to track industry growth rates and cycles in one of the country’s most active and vibrant energy-producing states. The OEI is a joint project of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association (OIPA), Bank SNB and the Steven C. Agee Economic Research and Policy Institute.

The index of oil and natural gas industry activity increased to 263.12 using data collected in September, less than 1 percent growth from the previous month. Year-over-year growth, however, has increased by 5 percent.

The Energy Index shows Oklahoma’s independent producers are weathering falling oil and natural gas prices better than their larger, integrated counterparts despite the shadow the uncertain economics cast over energy stock prices. Dr. Russell Evans, executive director of the Steven C. Agee Economic Research and Policy Institute, said the Oklahoma Energy Portfolio — a hypothetical stock portfolio of Oklahoma-based companies from the oil and natural gas exploration and production industry — is up 11.25 percent year-to-date. In contrast, Exxon Mobil and Chevron stock prices are down 7.97 percent and 8.73 percent year-to-date respectively while ConocoPhillips is down 1.71 percent year-to-date.

“Strong earnings throughout the year from companies working in and based in Oklahoma are a sign of strength for our state’s economy,” OIPA President Mike Terry said. “Despite an uncertain future for oil and natural gas prices, more drilling rigs are working in Oklahoma than a month ago. Those drilling rigs put Oklahomans to work, stimulate local economies and put additional tax dollars in state coffers.”

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