oil and gas

On the 100th anniversary of the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, the nonpartisan group Taxpayers for Common Sense published a report Tuesday calling for an increase in the royalty rate on publicly owned oil and gas.

Kamila Kudelska

At the end of 2019, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) leased out more than 37,000 acres of land in northern Park County for potential oil and gas drilling. That spike in land available for oil and gas alarmed some people in the area who wondered what it could mean for wildlife—including Ken and Kathy Lichtendahl.

NPL project area in maroon. Location of National Parks, Wilderness Areas and Sensitive Lakes within the NPL CMAQ 4-km Modeling Grid
Bureau of Land Management

On February 7, the Bureau of Land Management, Wyoming State Office (WSO) vacated its approval of an oil and gas well and associated pipelines within Jonah Energy's Normally Pressured Lance (NPL) project in western Wyoming. The WSO remanded its decisions back to the local field office.

Naughton Power Plant - one of Rocky Mountain Power's plants that's scheduled to close earlier than anticipated
Pacificorp

Last year, the Wyoming legislature passed a bill called "New opportunities for Wyoming coal fired generation" requiring any utility retiring a coal plant earlier than scheduled would make a good faith effort to find a buyer.

Through the interim, legislators have been putting together a bill that would lay the groundwork for that to happen.

Natural gas prices over 5 years from Bloomberg Energy
Bloomberg

Adjusted for inflation, the natural gas spot price dropped to its lowest point in the shale revolution era. Fracking and horizontal drilling revolutionized the industry a decade ago, but the success has also cost producers with now record low prices hitting $1.77/million BTU today.

On January 27, oil and gas company Southland Royalty Company filed for bankruptcy. Wyoming's 15th largest natural gas producer said in a filing, "the debtor has suffered from the industry's general and sustained decline over the past several years." It went on to say the company would be taking drastic measures to get back to profitability.

President Donald Trump somewhat misrepresented his administration’s role in the expansion of domestic oil and gas production during his State of the Union address Tuesday. 

Planning and NEPA Map
Bureau of Land Management

The Trump Administration is looking at removing environmental review requirements from public land-use plans. The possible changes by the Bureau of Land Management is one of several suggestions in a document obtained by Bloomberg News.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements have long been part of land-use planning as the Bureau of Land Management balances energy production and conservation. Any plan must include a finalized environmental impact statement.

Wyoming Bureau of Land Management attribution 2.0 generic (CC by 2.0)

Jim Robinson, principal economist for the Wyoming Economic Analysis Division, said when he looks at Wyoming's economy in the coming year, it's not going to bring news that anyone wants to hear. 

Update, Jan. 15 10:11 a.m.: The Department of Interior has provided a statement, which is now included in this story.

The Trump Administration’s Interior Department has largely ignored public comment on proposed rule changes, according to an analysis from the Center for Western Priorities.

The conservation advocacy group looked at ten proposals from Interior, including the easing of offshore drilling regulations and Endangered Species Act protections. What it found was that while more than 95% of public comments were opposed to the changes, the agency still moved forward on most of them.

Recent data shows that the U.S. had more minable oil and natural gas reserves than ever before.

First page screenshot of the 194 page updates
Council on Environmental Quality

The Trump Administration has proposed comprehensive updates to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). According to the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), which oversees NEPA implementation, they would the biggest changes made in over 40 years.

NEPA, established in 1970, requires all federally-related developments to show what environmental impacts they will have. There are three types of reviews: Environmental Impact Statements (EIS), Environmental Assessments (EA), and Categorical Exclusions (CE).

A map showing the area near incoming drilling - within the black box. The yellow lines signify which areas company workers can take
Cooper McKim

Samson Energy Company held an outreach meeting Tuesday night as it moves to start drilling 10 to 15 new wells east of Cheyenne as soon as April.

The closest development would be more 1,000 feet from anyone's home, according to the company. Wyoming mandates that development occur at least 500 feet from an occupied structure.

Net US greenhouse gas emissions by sector
Rhodium Group

Preliminary data shows U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell 2.1 percent in 2019 following a spike in 2018.

A report put together by the Rhodium Group, an independent research provider, estimates emissions actually increased in nearly every sector except for the energy industry.

After a long hiatus, a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s 2017 decision to rescind regulations on hydraulic fracturing on public lands is moving forward. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California is scheduled to hear oral arguments in January after prominent conservation groups, including the Sierra Club, filed suit in 2018.

Tested well locations around Pavillion
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

Wyoming's Department of Environmental Quality's (DEQ) confirmed its 2016 findings that Pavillion, Wyoming's groundwater contamination is not connected to oil and gas activity.

It released a 4,228 page report Monday that dug into questions remaining from the previous version in 2016. The department used improved technology to dive into its past findings and ensure there wasn't some critical compound or bacteria missed.

Samson's approved drilling and spacing units near Cheyenne
Wayne Lax

Cheyenne homeowners are raising concerns about a proposed oil and gas development that would drill close to the city.

Samson Energy Company acquired land this month where it hopes to drill 10 to 15 wells starting as soon as April of next year.

Cooper McKim

Close to the Nebraska Border in eastern Laramie County, vast swaths of farmland give way to a property neatly outlined by silos and rehabbed farm buildings. An American flag welcomes visitors to the main house.

The Select Committee on Coal/Mineral Bankruptcies At Its Cheyenne Interim Meeting
Cooper McKim

Hours into a meeting of the Select Committee on Coal/Mineral Bankruptcies, Chairman Eric Barlow brought up a draft bill called "Protested Tax Payments." With little pause, Barlow welcomed in the day's regular testifiers.

City of Powell

The Mozambican government is looking to develop business partnerships with the city of Powell and in the Bighorn Basin.

US shale gas map
https://www.eia.gov/maps/images/shale_gas_lower48.jpg

Nearly three dozen Wyoming landowners are suing Occidental Petroleum Corporation and its recently acquired company Anadarko Petroleum Corporation alleging they monopolized both the oil and gas market and the leasing rights in Laramie County. Occidental Petroleum acquired Anadarko this year in a deal valued at $55 billion and is in the process of finalizing the sale.

Charlie Craighead

Scientists at the University of Wyoming wanted to know how fish fare in streams near energy development. Their results were recently published in the Journal of Applied Ecology and paint a picture of how human disturbance and less water can crunch the habitat that some fish need to survive and thrive.

 Comparison of Natural Gas Production and Price Forecasts.
Consensus Revenue Estimating Group

Natural gas producers in Wyoming are facing a dramatic new normal as prices drop and supply explodes. The state Consensus Revenue Estimating Group (CREG) report estimates natural gas production is falling at similar levels to coal projected to be down nearly 40 percent this year from 2009.

Four likely scenarios forecasting the next few years
Rob Godby

Gov. Mark Gordon announced an effort called Power Wyoming this week to study new revenue scenarios for Wyoming. The group presented data to the legislature's Joint Revenue Committee showing the state can no longer rely on revenues from the energy industry.

A map of all federally owned land in the United States (from 2005)
U.S. Bureau of Land Management

Judge Scott Skavdahl for the United States District Court, District of Wyoming has placed an injunction on part of the Obama-era valuation rule. That rule was intended to update how royalties are calculated from energy production on federal and native land with the goal of giving a fair price to taxpayers.

Methane is flared from a well pad in North Dakota's Bakken formation in photo taken during a 2014 NOAA research project.
Jeff Peischl / NOAA/CIRES

Over the last few years, oil production has spiked in the U.S., with help from states such as Wyoming and Colorado. And the boom brought a nearly 50 percent increase in natural gas flaring between 2017 and 2018, according to the Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership, which is managed by the World Bank.

Completed orphaned well projects along with proposed ones
Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission

An outdated regulation within the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is allowing the majority of oil and gas operators on federal land to put down money for clean-up that doesn't reflect actual cost; that's according to a new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

A gas flare, used to burn off flammable gas -- on Highway 59 from Gillette
Cooper McKim / Wyoming Public Radio

The Trump Administration is looking to change Obama-era national air quality standards for the oil and gas industry that limited methane - a pollutant considered the second largest contributor to climate change. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed changes Thursday to the 2016 New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), influenced at the time by Wyoming's regulations.

Savannah Maher

Earlier this summer, the Northern Arapaho Tribe came out against a proposal by the energy company Aetheon to discharge oilfield waste upstream of the Wind River. But the opposition was not for the reasons that some tribal members would like.

Bloomberg compiled S & P data
Bloomberg

Amid coal bankruptcies, increasingly cost-efficient oil and gas companies, and a trade war underway, the energy sector has dropped to its lowest share of the S & P 500 in a long time. S & P 500 is an index of major companies that represent the U.S. stock market.

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