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The Five States (You Haven't Heard About) Behind America's Energy Boom The Five States (You Haven't Heard About) Behind America's Energy Boom

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The Five States (You Haven't Heard About) Behind America's Energy Boom

States like Texas, Louisiana and North Dakota are famous for producing oil and gas—here's a look at five states that are lesser-known drivers of the new U.S. energy rush.

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America is in the midst of an energy revolution. A mere decade after "ending America's dependence on foreign oil" became a near-cliché, the energy flow has reversed itself completely.

Breakthroughs in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have unleashed vast stores of oil and gas from underground shale rock formations. So abundant are these new supplies that the U.S. is expected to become the world's largest producer of oil and gas this year.


Some of the biggest state players are well-known: Texas and Louisiana for their long-running dominance in oil and gas, North Dakota for the more recent shale-oil boom, Pennsylvania for its shale gas, and West Virginia for its coal.

Here's a look at five states that are lesser-known drivers of America's new energy rush.



Although most people could guess that Texas is America's state leader in energy production, far fewer realize that Wyoming comes in at a close second—and well ahead of third-ranked Louisiana, producing 13.3 percent of total U.S. energy to Louisiana's 5.1 percent, according to the Energy Information Agency. The main reason: coal. In the 1980s, Wyoming's coal industry quietly overtook West Virginia's, and the lead has grown. Wyoming now puts out more than three times as much coal as number-two coal state West Virginia.

But the story doesn't end there. Natural gas is rising in Wyoming, earning the state the number-three production ranking. It also sits atop the Green River Formation, estimated to contain one of the largest oil shale deposits in the world. Wyoming also generates 13 percent of its electricity from renewables, primarily wind.

BP is one of the top natural-gas producers in Wyoming, with operations in the south-central part of the state that span 1,000 square miles. The company has also donated about $5.5 million to the University of Wyoming since 2007 for energy research and academic programming. In fact, in 2012, BP pumped more than $500 million into the state's economy.


Chances are that much of the new crude oil and natural gas being pulled out of the ground will eventually find its way here. Illinois is a major North American oil-and-gas hub. It's home to a latticework of natural gas, petroleum and petroleum product pipelines, two natural gas market centers and an oil port. Illinois leads all other Midwestern states in crude oil refining capacity, ranking number four.

But Illinois stands on its own in terms of generation as well. According to the EIA, the state is the third-ranked producer of ethanol and, as of 2010, was number one in nuclear power, generating 12 percent of the nation's total. It also ranked third in the nation in 2010 for recoverable coal reserves at producing mines—and seventh in coal production overall.

Illinois is home to BP aviation fuel, pipeline, trading, maritime shipping and regional gasoline supply operations as well as two office campuses. In fact, the second-largest concentration of BP employees in the U.S. work in the Chicago area, while the company's operations support upwards of 13,000 jobs across the state—more than in all but three other states. Altogether, BP spent about $2.8 billion in Illinois in 2012, more than it spent in any other state except Texas.


Alaska was there for us when domestic oil was in short supply, and the state is still a big part of America's energy equation. Around the time U.S. oil production began to decline in the early 1970s, the largest oil reserves ever previously found in North America were discovered at Prudhoe Bay. Production there offset much of the decline through the mid-1980s.

Although the shale-oil boom has stolen the spotlight, Alaska continues to deliver. Even excluding oil production in federal offshore areas, Alaska still ranks a strong fourth in crude oil production in the nation, having only recently slipped from number two. Alaska is also a leader in geothermal energy and ranks 11th in natural gas production—even though much of its gas supply remains untapped due to a lack of pipeline infrastructure.

BP supports more than 22,500 jobs in Alaska—more than in any other state but two—and spends about $1.5 billion with vendors there, operating 13 oilfields on the North Slope. It also owns the greatest share of the 800-mile Trans Alaska Pipeline, which has carried 16 billion barrels of oil to market and pumped $170 billion in revenue to the state's economy.


Washington State may not produce any crude oil—and yet it plays a crucial role in the domestic crude oil industry. That's because Washington is a major refining state, ranking sixth in the nation in refining capacity as of 2011, according to the EIA. Most of that oil flows from Alaska. But railroad oil terminals are being planned or are under construction to help shuttle oil from North Dakota to Washington refineries.

Washington is also the nation's leader in hydroelectric power. It produces 29 percent of the nation's hydroelectricity and operates the largest hydroelectric plant in the U.S.: the Grand Coulee Dam on Washington's Colombia River.

BP's Cherry Point Refinery, Washington's largest and the third-largest on the West Coast, has operated for more than 40 years and was expanded in 2013 with two new units. BP operations support 7,900 jobs and BP spent about $290 million in the state in 2012.


The Hoosier State, a longtime Midwestern energy industry powerhouse, is well-positioned to see its star rise even further in the coming years. Ranking eighth in U.S. coal production, Indiana is home to the massive Whiting Refinery, which has the largest processing capacity of any refinery outside the Gulf Coast. The state is also a huge source of ethanol, with 13 plants capable of putting out nearly 1 billion gallons per year. Ball State University in Muncie, meanwhile, boasts the largest geothermal heating and cooling facility in the U.S.

BP maintains a major presence in the state; The Whiting Refinery is BP's largest worldwide and a recent multibillion-dollar investment in the facility represented the largest private investment in Indiana state history. BP operations support 43,600 jobs in Indiana, second only to its Texas operations, and the company spent $400 million with vendors in the state in 2012.