Special Report

The 10 Most Oil-Rich States

4. California
> Proved oil reserves:
2.9 billion barrels
> Total crude oil production: 204 million barrels (3rd highest)
> Number of operating refineries: 17 (3rd most)
> Unemployment rate: 7.5% (4th highest)

California’s proven oil reserves fell by nearly 25% from 2000 through 2013, one of only two of the most oil-rich states that did not increase its proven reserves over that period. Still, because of the state’s size, proven reserves totalled more than 2.9 billion barrels, fourth-most in the country. Relative to other states, California’s oil production is also quite high, at roughly 2 million barrels per year, the third highest production level in the country. The state is home to 15 of the nation’s largest oil fields, which accounted for more than 80% of the state’s oil production in 2013. Only 0.2% of the state’s labor force was employed in mining and logging as of 2014, by the far the lowest share of employment in that sector among oil-rich states.

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3. Alaska
> Proved oil reserves:
2.9 billion barrels
> Total crude oil production: 181 million barrels (4th highest)
> Number of operating refineries: 5 (tied-5th most)
> Unemployment rate: 6.8% (10th highest)

Like in California, proven oil reserves in Alaska are declining, falling 40.4% from 2000 through 2013, including a 13.1% decline in 2012. Alaska’s mining industry, which began contracting as the oil boom hit the lower 48 states, was one factor contributing to the state’s negative GDP growth rate. The industry dragged Alaska’s overall GDP down 1.84 percentage points in 2013, making it one of just two states with negative GDP growth figures that year. Nonetheless, with nearly 3 billion barrels of proven reserves, Alaska is home to some of the largest oil fields in the country. Together, the Prudhoe Bay and Kuparuk River fields, the third and sixth largest fields by proven reserves, accounted for nearly 60% of the state’s total oil production of 188 million barrels in 2013. And while just 0.6% of the nation’s workforce was employed in the mining and logging sector, 5.3% of Alaska’s labor force was employed in that sector, the third largest share in the country.

2. North Dakota
> Proved oil reserves:
5.7 billion barrels
> Total crude oil production: 396 million barrels (2nd highest)
> Number of operating refineries: 1 (24th most)
> Unemployment rate: 2.8% (the lowest)

Home to the Bakken shale formation, North Dakota is the archetype of the recent U.S. oil boom. From 2000 through 2013, proven oil reserves increased by more than 2,000%, from 270 million barrels to 5.7 billion barrels. And while only four new oil fields discovered in 2013, compared to the 29 fields discovered in 2010, the state still had the highest number of new field discoveries in the country. New oil discoveries have also helped create jobs in the state. Since 2001, North Dakota’s unemployment rate has risen above 4% only once, and the share of the labor force employed in mining and logging has grown from roughly 1% to 6.5%. Additionally, the state had the country’s highest GDP growth rate of 6.3%, of which 2.5 percentage points came from the mining industry.

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1. Texas
> Proved oil reserves:
10.5 billion barrels
> Total crude oil production: 1.2 billion barrels (the highest)
> Number of operating refineries: 26 (the most)
> Unemployment rate: 5.1% (16th lowest)

With more than 10 billion barrels, Texas had the most proven oil reserves of any state in the country. Extensions to existing fields, as well as the discovery of new fields, including in the Eagle Ford Shale in 2009, helped Texas double its proven reserves since 2000. And while geologists first discovered the Permian Basin in the late 19th century, it was not until recent advances in production technology that oil companies could extract oil from the basin’s shale. As of March 2013, the Permian Basin was the largest oil producing region in the country. In addition to having the most proven reserves, Texas also produced the most oil in the country. The state produced 1.2 billion barrels of oil in 2014, a third of all U.S. crude oil production that year.

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