During 2014, the oil and natural gas industry in Colorado accounted for $31.7 billion in overall economic impact, including 102,700 jobs worth $7.6 billion in compensation, according to a University of Colorado (UC) study released Tuesday.
The impact peaked in 2014, given the dramatically lower commodity prices this year that dampened economic multipliers from oil/gas, according to the report, which was conducted by the business research division at UC’s Leeds School of Business and released by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA).
In 2014, direct industry jobs totaled 38,650 with average annual wages of $105,000, according to the report, "Oil and Gas Industry Economic and Fiscal Contributions in Colorado by County."
The UC Boulder campus researchers, Brian Lewandowski and Richard Wobbekind, found that oil/gas supported more than 100,000 highly paid workers and their families.
Oil and gas, along with nearly all extraction industries in the state, provide substantial economic benefits because of what Lewandowski and Wobbekind called a combination of an "integrated supply chain, high-wage jobs and propensity to sell nationally and globally." Much of the state's oil and gas supplies are sold outside of Colorado, contributing wealth to both the private and public sectors in the state, they said.
The report calculated Colorado's 2014 upstream and midstream oil/gas industry activities, including drilling, extraction, support activities, pipeline construction and pipeline transportation, noting that the industry recorded $15.8 billion in production value last year.
Part of the economic stimulus came in the public sector through property, income and severance tax revenues generated by oil/gas activities, the report said, along with revenues from public land leases and royalties. Those revenues totaled nearly $1.2 billion in 2014.
A total of 34 counties recorded oil production in 2014, and 38 counties produced natural gas, with oil overall exceeding gas in its economic impact for the year. A total of 37 of the state's 64 counties recorded taxable oil/gas property last year, and 90% of the taxable activity occurred in five counties: Weld, Garfield, La Plata, Rio Blanco and Montezuma. Industry jobs were recorded in 50 counties.
The authors said further research is needed to capture the full impact of oil/gas in Colorado because they did not capture many nonmarket impacts related to the industry, such as locally sourced energy, air quality, water usage, etc., which were outside the scope of their work.
COGA officials emphasized the report's contention that the oil/gas industry is taxed at a significantly higher rate than other industries and individuals. Oil/gas ad valorem taxes are three times higher than commercial property and 11 times higher than residential property.
"As oil production ramps up in Colorado, the energy industry in the state is no longer dominated by gas production," according to the report. Oil represented 52% of the sales-based value for oil/gas in 2014 with natural gas accounting for 44%. Carbon dioxide accounted for the remaining 4% of sales value.
Oil/gas economic impact peaked in 2014, according to the report. Drilling and employment activities decreased this year "based on lower oil/gas prices." Nevertheless, production continued to increase through mid-2015, "primarily due to new production in Weld County," the researchers said. In 2014, Weld County accounted for 86% of the state's oil production and 25% of the gas production.
"Clearly, even as we work through this period of lower commodity prices, the oil/gas industry's impact on Colorado's economy is significant," said COGA CEO Dan Haley. "The industry continues to provide, and support, thousands of good-paying jobs in all corners of the state."