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Industry Sectors

Utah has a long, rich history of oil and gas development. From very early on, Utah’s pioneer ancestors realized that oil and natural gas resources were prevalent across the State. Since those early days, the petroleum industry has been an integral part of the State’s development. From the earliest small discoveries to the current booming development, oil and gas exploration and development as well as petroleum refining have been a cornerstone of Utah’s economy, providing jobs and revenue to families, communities and the State.

Over the past 125 years, oil and gas companies and prospectors have drilled more than twenty-two thousand wells in Utah in hopes of striking it rich. Many of the early wells turned out to be dry. Today the industry uses sophisticated technologies and tried-and-true techniques to find oil and gas under the earth’s surface. More recently, scientific techniques and new technologies have greatly improved the odds. Before drilling begins, we use topographical maps, aerial photography, sound waves, 3D projections and other tools to help us form an educated guess about the size, shape and consistency of the oil or natural gas that lies underneath.

Utah is a significant producer of both oil and natural gas with the prospects to play an even bigger role nationwide. Utah ranks 10th nationally in natural gas production and 11th for oil production. Significant investment and new technologies are pushing Utah's production totals consistently higher.

The midstream sector of the oil and gas industry is made up of companies involved in gathering, processing, transportation, and marketing of natural gas, natural gas liquids (NGL), condensate and crude oil. A safe and efficient transportation system of both unrefined and refined petroleum products is critical to the success of both the upstream and downstream sectors of Utah’s petroleum industry.

Crude oil produced in Utah and surrounding states is refined in the Salt Lake area to produce products we use every day in our own lives. Utah has five petroleum refineries with a combined daily processing capability of about 210,000 barrels of oil. Combined they manufacture enough fuels to keep Utah moving and help sustain our way of life.

Almost all Utahns interact often with a fuel marketer. These local gas stations can be independently owned and operated or part of a national chain. They deliver fuel to consumers and are the end of an amazing chain that bring Utah's natural resources full circle to the benefit of Utah drivers.

  • As of 2015, Utah ranks 11th nationally in oil production and 12th among states in natural gas production.
  • There are currently 141 operating refineries in the United States with 5 located in Utah. Utah refineries produced over 36 million barrels (1.5 billion gallons) of motor gasoline in 2015 and over 19 million barrels (798 million gallons) of distillate fuel (diesel).
  • Well completions in Utah (both oil and gas) have declined dramatically over recent years as commodity prices plummeted and have stayed low. There were 1243 completions in 2008, 925 in 2014 and only 305 in 2015.
  • Duchesne (46%), Uintah (34%) and San Juan (12%) Counties accounted for 92% of oil production in Utah in 2015. The balance was produced collectively from Sevier, Grand, Summit, Carbon and Emery Counties.
  • The ratio of oil wells drilled in Utah versus natural gas wells has shifted significantly over recent years as commodity prices have affected company's drilling programs. In 2008, only 28% of wells drilled were for oil while in 2014, 76% of all wells drilled were primarily seeking oil.
  • Wages for energy-related jobs are nearly double the average annual wage for all employment in Utah.
  • In 2015 petroleum products and natural gas accounted for 59% of total energy consumed in Utah. Coal was responsible for 38% while all renewables combined made up 3% of energy use.
  • Utah refineries received record amounts of crude oil in 2014 and only slightly less in 2015, with 43% coming from in-state and 8% coming from Canada.
  • Fossil fuels made up 98% of Utah’s total energy production in 2015, while renewable sources accounted for only 2% of Utah’s production portfolio.
  • Property taxes charged against Utah oil and gas activities have increased more than six times since 1996, totaling nearly $64 million in 2015.
  • The value of crude oil produced in Utah reached an all-time inflation-adjusted high of $3.2 billion in 2014, but then dropped to only $1.5 billion in 2015 as commodity prices sank.
  • Natural gas production in Utah reached a record high in 2012 of 491 billion cubic feet, but has since dropped to 423 billion cubic feet in 2015.
  • Oil and gas operations in Utah account for about 1.3% of the State's gross state product. Utilities (including some non-energy sectors), refineries, and pipeline transportation and maintenance account for an additional 1.9%.
  • The last major refinery built in the United States was put into operation in 1977.
  • Utah’s average price of residential natural gas in 2015 was $9.72 per thousand cubic feet, the 17th lowest in the nation. As recently as 2011, Utah’s price was the third lowest in the nation, but new natural gas pipelines have better connected our once captive market with the rest of the United States.
  • Natural gas is the largest source of annual energy production in Utah, surpassing coal for the first time in 2010.
  • In 2015, 76% of the electricity generated in Utah was from coal-burning power plants. Electricity generation from natural-gas power plants more than doubled since 2007, increasing its total share in 2015 to 19%.
  • Utah produced 18% more energy than it consumed in 2015, continuing its status as a net-energy exporter. This percentage is usually closer to 30%, but production of fossil fuels was significantly down in 2015.
  • Energy-related employment in Utah declined to 15,367 in September of 2015 (down 16% from the 18,236 recorded in October 2014 prior to the oil price crash), of which the majority (30%) came from the oil and gas sector.
  • Average yearly wages in the energy sector ($83,400, first three quarters of 2015) are more than double the statewide average annual wage ($41,500, first three quarters of 2015).

UPA's voice is strengthened by companies like yours joining forces with us to work towards maintaining and improving Utah's favorable business climate.

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