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End of year numbers show an uptick in oil production and slight decline for natural gas in Wyoming 

Wyoming’s oil production had a relatively strong year after taking a hit during the pandemic, although natural gas saw a slight decline, according to a summary report from the Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS).

Oil production was almost at a 10-year high in 2022 at 90 million barrels produced. Peak production in the last decade was in 2019 at 102.2 million barrels. Once the pandemic hit in 2020 there was a noticeable decline in oil production, which Derek Lichtner, a WSGS geologist, said was from a lack of demand.

“The demand for oil has slowly returned,” said Lichtner. “And as a result, prices have risen, especially over the last year.”

The expectation is oil production will continue to increase. However, not without some uphill battles. A new project in the Powder River Basin called the Converse County Oil and Gas Project was approved by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in 2020. Just this fall, a group of conservationists filed a lawsuit against the project claiming there would be irreversible damage to local sage grouse and raptors. While the lawsuit is pending development can continue.

Wyoming’s other key industry – natural gas – saw a slight decline in 2022. Lichnter said this is part of a general long term trend since the market crashed in 2008.

“In the 2000s natural gas prices were very high, so there was a lot of incentive to produce natural gas,” he said. “But after the 2008 market crash, natural gas prices really plummeted and they stayed low.”

That being said natural gas production in Sublette County has generally held steady – it accounts for about half of the state’s total production.

Caitlin Tan is the Energy and Natural Resources reporter based in Sublette County, Wyoming. Since graduating from the University of Wyoming in 2017, she’s reported on salmon in Alaska, folkways in Appalachia and helped produce 'All Things Considered' in Washington D.C. She formerly co-hosted the podcast ‘Inside Appalachia.' You can typically find her outside in the mountains with her two dogs.
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