Royalties, taxes paid by Texas drillers plunged in 2016

By Lydia DePillis

Texas’ top oil and gas association said Tuesday that taxes and royalties paid to state and local government fell significantly in the last fiscal year, reflecting the plunge in oil prices and decline in drilling activity during that period.

 For perspective, that’s out of $111.3 billion in total state revenues, of which sales taxes provided $28.8 billion.

Texas has grown less dependent on both taxes and jobs from the fossil fuel industry in recent years, which allowed it to remain in relatively stable fiscal condition even as other large oil and gas producers like North Dakota, Alaska, and Louisiana suffered during a two-year oil bust that began in the summer of 2014.

Still, TXOGA president Todd Staples used the annual tabulation to trumpet the industry’s importance to the state’s economy, and press for the maintenance of a business climate that favors oil and gas production.

“What Texas needs now is for our lawmakers to look closely at what Texas needs to attract businesses,” Staples said on a conference call with reporters, naming adequate funding for the Railroad Commission, low taxes, and support for pipeline infrastructure as the association’s main priorities for the 2017 legislative session.

Staples also cited the oil and gas industry’s formidable workforce in Texas, which still enjoys higher-than-average wages, even though it has shrunk from more than 100,000 workers in November 2015 to about 92,000 employees today, according to the Dallas Federal Reserve.

“I don’t think anyone is forecasting the wide-open speed at which jobs were created, and revenues of 2014,” Staples said, “just because the global supply is so much, and demand is not growing as fast as it has in previous decades.”