Growing industries in Oklahoma City

Roy Williams, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber

Oklahoma City has certainly had a long, thriving love affair with “black gold.” For well over 100 years our city has enjoyed the economic benefits of our oil and gas industry, but things are changing in Oklahoma City.

Employment in the oil and gas industry is a third of what it was 20 or 30 years ago. It has become significantly smaller in terms of jobs, but remains huge in terms of economic impact.

Today the oil and gas industry is about 10-12% of our gross metropolitan product. Not very far behind that is aviation aerospace and bioscience. So, it’s not quite as dominant as a lot of people tend to think it is.

Oil and gas is also a very different industry today. Its usually divided into three major components:

  1. Upstream – The searching for potential underground or underwater crude oil and natural gas fields, drilling of exploratory wells, and subsequently drilling and operating the wells.
  2. Midstream – The transportation (by pipeline, rail, barge, oil tanker or truck), storage, and wholesale marketing of crude or refined petroleum products .
  3. Downstream – The refining of petroleum crude oil and the processing and purifying of raw natural gas.

Oklahoma City is the nation’s home for Midstream companies – an 11 billion dollar industry that did not exist here several years ago. We’re the headquarters to four of the top 10 largest Midstream companies in the world.

We’re also getting a lot of secondary manufacturing in the energy sector from companies who manufacture some part or piece that goes into drilling or refining. Often times those companies have multiple customers, so while they supply energy companies, they may also be supplying to other industry sectors as well.

Additionally, we have a deep supplier base with the aerospace industry sector which is going to significantly grow. On September 15th we’re due to close on 160 acres of land that BNSF owned next to General Motors. We’re giving that land to the air force and they’re going to build a half billion dollar facility and hire about 1,400 people to start repairing tankers in 2018. This in turn will bring a number of other companies to our area.

On top of that, GE’s oil and gas research facility partners with companies around the world to do research and development in that sector. They have a floor in their building that is dedicated just to partners. They have told us there will be at least a dozen companies who will move here because of their research partnership.

We’re excited about the growth Oklahoma City has achieved and we are actively working towards fostering that growth in new and established industries through the greater Oklahoma City area.

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