‘It’s maybe an early Christmas present,’ Oil companies celebrate OPEC deal

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OKLAHOMA - An international oil deal has local energy companies encouraged for the year ahead.

Oklahoma petroleum producers expect increased hiring, drilling and exploration after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries - known as OPEC - agreed to cut oil production for the year ahead.

Prices rose more than 7 percent the day the 14-country conglomerate announced the deal.

"Oh, it's great news," said Mike Terry, president of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association. "Probably going to be a little merrier Christmas and happier new year for Oklahomans."

For a state that produces 12.5 million barrels of oil a month, even a $1 price increase can be reason to celebrate, Terry said.

Already, stock prices have improved, and companies are drawing up plans to push forward.

"That's big for our state, where the oil and gas industry is the backbone of our economy," Terry said. "As the industry does better, everybody does better."

Things are certainly looking better at the Bricktown-based Antioch Energy, which has had to focus on trimming costs instead of growing the company, said president Nathaniel Harding.

"Certainly, with more stable prices comes more activity, more drilling, more hiring," he said. "If we can just, as an industry, have more stability with oil and gas prices, you'll see companies make long-term decisions to increase their activity."

Also aiding the energy industry: President-Elect Donald Trump.

The OIPA expects fewer industry regulations.

So, instead of spending money to follow those regulations, energy companies can spend on their equipment and personnel, said an OIPA spokesman.

Harding, of Antioch Energy, is also optimistic about the Trump administration.

"Any person who is pro-business, you can see that reflected in the stock market, you can see that reflected in peoples' anticipated expenditures, and I think this is no exception," he said.

Consumers are likely to notice the new OPEC deal at the gas pump, where they'll likely be paying more to fill up their tanks.

Carrie Eldridge, for one, wants to see the state wean itself off oil.

"I have family and friends that are in the oil industry and, at some point or another, it's going to have to change to where we're not putting so many pollutants out in our environment," she said. "It's a temporary fix that won't solve any problems in the long run."

Other drivers though, like Shane Lincoln, are willing to pay if it makes the state more secure.

"I mean, as long as the economy gets better, that would be great regardless of prices or whatever we have to do to make it get better," he said, adding the president-elect will help. "I think Donald Trump's going to do good."