Oklahoma’s backbone

September 5, 2014 Oklahoma’s backbone: The Journal Record opinion guest column by Michael Terry

On July 16, 1935, the world’s first parking meter was installed at what was then the corner of First Street and Robinson Avenue in downtown Oklahoma City. By the end of the decade, the parking meter had spread across the country.

The driving force behind the parking meter was Oklahoma’s thriving oil and natural gas industry. Oklahoma was a center for oil production, and industry workers crowded into a growing downtown business district each day, making a way to manage the increasing number of automobiles a necessity.

Nearly 80 years later, Oklahoma City is thriving again thanks to a new millennium oil boom that has pushed crude oil production in the Sooner State to levels not seen in 30 years. Horizontal drilling has breathed new life into Oklahoma’s historic oil fields, doubling oil production and, more importantly, putting more Oklahomans to work in our city centers.

In Oklahoma City, we have seen the construction of the state’s largest corporate office building, which is home to Devon Energy, the announcement of new tower development that will be home to OGE Energy Corp. and a Class A office space vacancy rate that has shrunk from 9.3 percent to 1.4 percent in the first six months of 2014.

Growth is happening outside of downtown as well. The GE Oil and Gas Global Research Center, a new headquarters for Kimray Inc. and a new manufacturing center for Baker-Hughes Oilfield Operations Inc. will all create new jobs in Oklahoma City. The same can be said in Tulsa, where Unit Corp. is building a new corporate headquarters and Cimarex has made its move into One Place.

The oil and natural gas industry has been and will continue to be the backbone of Oklahoma’s economy for the foreseeable future. Oil and natural gas producers and the businesses that support them account for $1 out of every $3 spent in the state, and one out of every six Oklahomans work in the oil and gas industry.

Those numbers will continue to grow as industry innovations spearheaded by Oklahoma companies continue to drive oil and natural gas production higher in this state and across the nation.

Just like 80 years ago, when early day oil and gas pioneers jockeyed for parking spaces, Oklahoma’s oil and natural gas industry continues to define our state’s urban business districts.

Mike Terry is president of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association.

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