Boom Town, Utah

Over the past two weeks, I attended the Uintah Basin Energy Summit, the Governor’s Executive Energy Tour, and the annual Ute Tribe Oil & Gas Expo. What I learned at these events is very encouraging:


  • The U.S. leads the world in increasing oil output, dramatically reducing the country’s reliance on oil imports from just over 60% in 2005 to 40% last year. The U.S. is becoming more energy independent all the time.

  • U.S. oil production is at a 24year high, from just over 5 million barrels a day (MMBbl/day) in 2008 to nearly 8 MMBbl/day today.

  • North American oil independence, once only a dream, is within our reach in as little as a decade.

  • DOE forecasts fossil fuels will continue to provide roughly 80% of our nation’s energy needs for decades, notwithstanding the conventional wisdom that fossil fuels are “energy sources of the past.

  • Utah’s energy sector has an annual production value of nearly $5B and creates high-paying jobs throughout rural Utah, with roughly 11,000 producing wells today.

  • Energy-producing states have low energy rates, robust economies, and low unemployment rates.

  • Utah has the 4th lowest energy rate and the 5th lowest unemployment rate in the countrynot just a coincidence.

  • Oil and gas jobs pay in the $80,000 plus range.

  • 76% of Utah’s oil and 66% of its natural gas comes from the Uintah Basin.

  • Uintah County has approximately 111 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

  • The Uintah Basin contains an estimated 3.1billion barrels of conventional oil and1.32 trillion barrels of in place oil shale reserve.

  • One half of the oil sand deposits in the United States are found in Eastern Utah.

  • The typical oil and gas well in Utah creates nearly 12 direct jobs and an additional 15 indirect jobs, totaling 27 jobs per well.

  • Energy prices in Utah are about 30 percent below the national average.

  • Utah consumers and businesses currently enjoy the lowest natural gas prices in the country, and among the lowest electricity costs.

Governor Herbert has been highly instrumental in bringing all stakeholders to the table to find ways to encourage energy production, while prioritizing the protection of our environment. His ten-year energy plan is a model of balancing all the competing interests in energy.

The Basin‘s booming economy owes much of its success to great local county and tribal leaders in the area, such as Tammie Lucero, Uintah Economic Development Director, Johnna Blackhair, Bureau of Indian Affairs superintendent for the Ute Tribe, and Irene Hansen, Executive Director, Roosevelt Chamber. I can’t name all the great contributors from county commissioners to mayors to Ute Tribe leadership. The Basin has some of the most impressive, forward-thinkingleadership in the nation.

I hope Utah’s citizens and leaders will not lose sight of the Basin’s significant contribution to the State’s economy and tax base. The Ute reservation holds many oil and gas resources, and the Ute Tribe is a major energy player. The State and the tribe must cooperate to maximize productive, responsible energy development in the Basin. I’m excited for the Basin’s bright economic prospects. I wish them every success.