We’ve all heard of companies like Devon, Chesapeake and Continental but Oklahoma’s oil and natural gas industry doesn’t stop there. Across the state there are hundreds of small producers whose livelihood depends on the success of their business. These small producers provide job opportunities to Oklahomans across the state. Their success comes from hard work and resiliency.

Kelly Cook is an oil and natural gas producer who owns Kelly Cook Oil LLC along with his wife, Karen, and two children, Kelli Ann and Kassidy. He says oil production runs deep on both sides of the family.

“I am a second-generation producer, but my family and Karen’s family go back three generations in the energy service sector,” Cook says. “I am a proud generational member of Oklahoma’s oilfield. I have seen firsthand, since the time I was old enough to be aware of, not only the spirit of its people but their strength and courage.”

Cook says it’s not always easy living the “hard-scrabble” life of an energy producer. His company started in 1987 as a partnership with his uncle. Today, the company operates 43 oil wells and eight salt-water disposal wells.

“I really believe it takes a special kind of person, family, as well as company to continue to operate in this field generation after generation,” he says.

David Moore is another one of these special kinds of people. He’s a petroleum geologist who owns the Latigo Drilling Corporation, which currently operates 50 leases in Oklahoma. Throughout his 43 years of oilfield experience, Moore has seen the industry in its ups and downs.

“I have sold oil for a low of $8 per barrel and a high of $140 per barrel,” he says.

Whether oil is selling high or low, the expenses and risks of drilling stay the same. While larger companies may be able to handle a few failed wells, smaller companies rely on a higher success rate if they want to be profitable.

“People think that all oil companies are wealthy,” Moore says. “What they don’t realize is the cost and risk involved in drilling wells. Not every well drilled is a success.”

The jobs provided by small producers play a vital role in the state’s economy and often have a big impact on local communities in which they operate.

“The work of a small producer creates many jobs for people in Oklahoma,” Moore says.

Cook says he’s proud that his family can continue the legacy.

“I’m proud of my long line of oilfield people,” he says. “And I’m excited that it looks like our children and grandchildren will carry on the legacy.”

With a large percentage of domestic oil and natural gas being produced by these companies, our country’s energy future is not only in the hands of the larger companies we often hear about but also in those of small operators across the state.

Discover more ways the oil and natural gas industry is creating jobs and impacting communities in Oklahoma on EnergyHQ.com.