Oil production in Wyoming has risen to its highest level in 25 years. The Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS) discovered the increase while updating its online map of oil and gas drilling.
It wasn't just increased production from existing wells: one out of every five wells was new. 599 new wells were completed last year. Campbell and Converse counties came out ahead with the most oil production.
Rachel Toner, WSGS oil and gas geologist, said the rise in production is connected to the popularity of horizontal drilling.
"Traditional, conventional reservoirs have pretty much been tapped and due to new technology, such as horizontal drilling, they're able to extract oil out of reservoirs that were previously unable to do that with," Toner said.
She said wildcatters have begun to dot the map over the past decade with unconventional reservoirs as the main target. Those are operators looking for oil reservoirs outside of established fields. The change prompted WSGS to reconsider how it groups those wells on its online map.
"Wildcat wells are prompting the energy community to rethink the definition of fields and what is important to hydrocarbon production in the state," said Dr. Erin Campbell, Director of the Wyoming State Geological Survey.
Toner said the WSGS would like to show the new areas of drilling in a different way than traditionally named fields where it's simple to draw a shape around the boundaries of wells.
Nearly half of the wells completed in 2018 were horizontal… primarily in Campbell, Converse and Laramie counties. New statistics also show that Sublette County is producing the majority of Wyoming's natural gas.