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Indiana Drillers Feeling Squeeze Of Low Oil Prices

In Indiana, the companies hit hardest by low oil prices are the same ones as in Texas or Louisiana—the producers who get the oil out of the ground and sell it to refineries. CountryMark CEO Charlie Smith said the number of wells being dug in Indiana has plummeted.

"It’s probably five percent of what it was two years ago," Smith said.

The Department of Natural Resources estimates the state’s 10-thousand wells produced about 2.2 million barrels in 2015, about as much as Texas produces daily. Still, the Indianapolis-based CountryMark has made budget cuts and fired 20 people since last year. Industry experts say the effects on smaller, local producers are even more extreme.

On the flip side, manufacturing, one of the state’s largest industries, is holding stable, even if companies such as Caterpillar aren’t selling big pieces of oil drilling equipment anymore. Indiana Manufacturer’s Association Vice President Andrew Berger said the sector is diversified enough that it’s not feeling a significant sting.

"All the economic data shows manufacturing is still very strong," Berger said.

Two hundred-fifty Caterpillar employees in Lafayette lost their jobs last year after the company announced decreased orders for engines that support the oil and gas industry.

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