Economic Output in North Dakota from Oil & Gas Remains Strong Despite Down Year

Bismarck, N.D. – The petroleum industry’s economic contributions remained strong in 2015 despite struggling commodity prices, according to the preliminary findings of a Economic Effects of Petroleum Industrybeing conducted by the North Dakota State University’s Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics. The oil and gas industry contributed $34.25 billion dollars into North Dakota’s economy in 2015. The figure is the second highest contribution since 2005 when the first study was released and was even higher than in 2011 when oil averaged above $87 per barrel.

“This study helps confirm that the petroleum industry remains one of the largest basic-sector industries in North Dakota in both good years and bad,” said Dean Bangsund, co-author of the study and research scientist for the department at NDSU. “Although the retraction in the markets caused undue hardships on the industry throughout 2015 and on into 2016, the benefits to individuals, the state and local governments, retailers and all other economic sectors continued to be strong, which has since reinforced the industry as a mainstay in North Dakota’s economy. This is especially true as oil production, versus oil field development, is increasing in relative economic importance.”

Because the industry relies on hundreds of contractors and subcontractors, the economic contributions extend beyond the mining and extraction industries. According to the study, retail trade once again saw the largest impact, taking in $8.85 billion of the $34.25 billion. Households, or personal income, saw the second-largest impact at $7.54 billion, and state and local governments rounded out the top three with $4.1 billion in royalties, taxes and other revenues from the oil and gas industry. More than six other industries in North Dakota also benefitted from oil and gas development.

“The industry has proven itself to be resilient in the face of downturns in the market,” said Ron Ness, president of the NDPC. “Through continued innovation and development, the industry is able to do more with less and have proven that they can weather these downturns and come out even stronger.”

Among the study’s key findings:

  • The oil and gas industry generated $34.25 billion for North Dakota’s Economy: In 2015, direct impacts of the oil and gas industry were $14.38 billion and secondary impacts were $19.87 billion for a total of $34.25 billion in business activity.


  • The oil and gas industry created more than 72,350 jobs statewide: The study reveals that the oil and gas industry’s economic importance to the state includes direct employment of more than 48,300 full-time jobs and secondary employment of more than 23,980 full-time equivalent jobs. The total direct and indirect jobs supported accounted for 20 percent of all private employment in the state.


  • The industry contributed $7.54 billion in personal income: The study reveals that the oil and gas industry’s share of the state’s total private salaries and wages is nearly 30 percent and accounts for a quarter of all private and public salaries and wages.


The North Dakota Petroleum Council (NDPC) has commissioned the study each biennium since 2005. The study was conducted by research scientist Dean Bangsund and Dr. Nancy Hodur, Director for the Center for Social Research at NDSU. Bangsund and Hodur surveyed firms engaged in exploration and development, extraction and production, transportation, and processing of crude oil and natural gas. Data that was measured in this study but not included in previous surveys was an assessment of capital expenditures for infrastructure projects. The full report will be due out later this month.

Economic Effects of Petroleum Industry