Environment, Education, Energy: Policy to People

Boom Town Locals in Western Oklahoma Welcome Growth, Watch for the Bust

Travel Aficionado / Flickr

A drilling rig near Elk City in western Oklahoma.

Oil is once again changing Oklahoma’s landscape, especially in western parts of the state.

Much of the drilling boom has concentrated in and around Elk City, where unemployment is low, hotel and restaurant construction has increased, and surging property values are challenging house-hunters, The Oklahoman reports.

Reporter Adam Wilmoth from the nexus of geography and geology:

Elk City is located along Interstate 40 almost exactly halfway between Oklahoma City and Amarillo, making it a logical location to service drilling activity throughout the area. The community is easily accessible to businesses and customers in the two larger cities about two and a half hours away.

Hydrology also plays a role, the paper reports. Elk City is also near an aquifer, which means there’s plenty of water for thirsty oil and gas operations.

Past experience with previous oil booms also led Elk City leaders to invest in a strong water system, providing the community with a daily water capacity of nearly twice its current daily volumes.

Chesapeake Energy, Apache and Linn Energy are staffing up in the area. The communities are welcoming the growth, but locals are a bit wary:

Longtime residents of Elk City and the other western Oklahoma boom towns are enjoying today’s growth while always watching for the next bust. They know the strong times they have today are heavily dependent on oil and natural gas prices, which have a long history of volatility.

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