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Natural gas production is up and helping state's economy

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Surging natural gas production is having a positive effect on businesses across the state.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission issued 5,247 drilling permits last year, the highest number since 5,722 were issued in 1988.

The agency already has issued 1,300 permits through March, which experts see as a good barometer of activity.

Reports show 147 drilling rigs in the field statewide as of March 11th.

According to Ron Sloan, who owns an oil and gas-related business, high rig counts equate to profitable business.

Business is so plentiful, Sloan is expanding for the first time since he bought the company 21 years ago.

In the Energy Information Administration's most recent annual report, Oklahoma showed the fourth highest increase nationwide in proven natural gas resources from 2002 to 2003 -- or pressure-tested natural gas that remains below surface.

Only Colorado, Texas and Wyoming show higher numbers.
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