Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Tax collections taken from oil and gas production in shale-rich Oklahoma last year were about 50 percent higher than 2016, state data show.
According to the federal government, Oklahoma holds about 4 percent of total U.S. petroleum reserves and accounts for about 5 percent of total oil production. Of the 100 largest natural gas fields in the United States, 14 of them are in Oklahoma.
A downturn in the energy market that reached bottom in early 2016 with a price of crude oil below $30 per barrel left the Oklahoma economy in shambles. In a year-end report, State Treasurer Ken Miller said gross tax receipts were higher in 2017 in every sector, when compared with the previous year.
"What a difference a year can make," he said in a statement. "At this time last year, calendar year gross receipts were down by more than 7 percent with every major revenue stream showing contraction."
Total tax receipts into the state reached $11.45 billion last year, beating the 2016 collection by $667.6 million. For December, oil and gas production brought in $56.2 million, up 42.7 percent from the same month in 2015. For the year, gross production taxes yielded $537.2 million, up 53.4 percent from 2015.
It's an election year in 2018 for Oklahoma and a term limit for Gov. Mary Fallin means a crowded field for the dozen or so candidates who will inherit a looming budget crisis for the shale-rich state.
Fallin in December said there's a hole in the budget of about $111 million because of loss in revenue from a cigarette tax. As a result of lingering fiscal problems, the governor said the state department of health and state department of human services are faced with cuts early in 2018.
Fallin last year vetoed most of House Bill 1019X, legislation aimed at fixing the state budget, because it came "perilously close" to wiping out the state's available one-time funds and savings.
The bill called for tens of millions of dollars in cuts to state agencies, but leaned in part on an increase in the gross production tax on legacy oil and gas wells from 4 to 7 percent. The oil and gas tax measure was met with criticism by those working in and supporting the energy sector in the state.
The state's general fund receives less than half of the gross tax receipts, which Miller said this year "show across-the-board growth with an encouraging trend line."
State data were published Friday.