Posted: Aug 16, 2012 8:38 AM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
Updated: Aug 16, 2012 8:40 AM
HELENA - A recent report from Montana State University in Billings shows that oil and gas production in Montana was down in 2011, but the economic impacts of the industry are stronger than ever.
The report shows more than 20,000 jobs are associated with the oil and gas industry in Montana; that figure includes everything from drill operators to engineers to truck drivers, and the other companies who provide services to those working on the rigs.
Dave Galt, of the Montana Petroleum Association said, "We are a jobs engine for the state of Montana."
In total, the industry cranked out $10.4 billion in economic output last year; Galt said, "In 2011 the oil and gas industry in Montana was a cornerstone of the economic output of the State of Montana and a significant reason why Montana has a positive budget balance."
Agriculture, by comparison, generates about $2 billion annually, according to the governor's office, and tourism brings in about $1.8 billion and supports about 37,000 jobs.
However, the report shows that oil and gas production is actually trending downward and has been since it peaked in 2006.
Last year Montana produced 24 million barrels of oil and 60 million cubic feet of natural gas, a decline from 2010.
But Galt says that things this year are starting to turn around: "We've actually issued more drilling permits for oil wells in 2012, eight months into 2012, than we did all year in 2011. We are getting close to getting to where we were in 2006, so we are coming back."