The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 26, 2011

This is not a drill

Enid leaders have work cut out for them to deal with Continental’s move

By Cindy Allen, Managing Editor
Enid News and Eagle

— Rapid growth and plans for expansion have prompted one of Enid’s premiere oil and gas production companies to move to Oklahoma City.

And, local city officials are bracing for the challenges the company’s move poses to economic development efforts.

Continental Resources, Oklahoma’s fourth-largest public company, announced it will relocate its 250 full-time Enid employees to Oklahoma City by mid-2012.

Harold Hamm, CEO and chairman of the board, will move the company into the 19-story building at 20 N. Broadway currently housing Devon Energy employees. Devon employees will be moving to a new 50-story skyscraper when it is complete.

Hamm said the move is a key element of Continental’s stated growth strategy to triple the size of the company. Hamm said the move will ensure the company can hire the employees necessary to increase production in the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and the Anadarko Basin in western Oklahoma.

“We’re expanding rapidly as a leading oil and gas company,” Hamm said. “With our growth plans in the largest oil play in the U.S., the timing is right to locate our corporate headquarters to Oklahoma City.”

Hamm said Oklahoma City offers a better opportunity for the company to hire the number of employees it needs to fulfill the company’s expansion plan.

Enid city leaders say the move will have a negative impact on the economy of Enid, but they are hopeful that impact will be short term.

City Manager Eric Benson said the move will be a “giant blow” for Enid, but he credited Continental with being a good corporate partner.

“Continental Resources is one of the finest corporate citizens any city could have. Of course, their move is a giant blow to Enid. But this is a well-considered and completely justifiable decision on their part,” Benson said. “I wish them the very best.”

Bill Shewey, an Enid banker and mayor-elect, said the loss of the oil company will be an adjustment for Enid.

“Continental has been a good corporate citizen. They do a lot for Enid, and their employees do a lot for Enid,” Shewey said.

The way the company is phasing the move over a year will be the best way for Enid, Shewey said, and he hopes Hamm’s other companies, which are staying here, will fill up space in the Continental Tower buildings.