The State of Oil in Wyoming

Submitted: July 26. 2017

By, Aaron Groff

(Carter Napier, Casper City Manager): "It certainly is the backbone of Wyoming in general."

Minerals keep Wyoming afloat. When oil went under, so did the state.

Price went from over 100 dollars a barrel to 30 - the rid count, down to 6.

(Bruce Hinchey, President of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming): "I'd never seen it that low."

Industry money goes back to the state. The taxable valuation of Wyoming oil was nearly cut in half, from 5.6 billion dollars in 2014 to 3.3 billion dollars the next year. Between eight and nine thousand jobs disappeared. The impact trickled down to the local level.

(Napier): "Immediately you see sales taxes drop. You see activity in the community drop. Houses go up for sale."

2016 saw Wyoming's first population drop in 26 years.

(Aaron Groff, reporting) "At the heart of the bust, Devon Energy had no operating rigs in Wyoming. They added one in late 2016, and another just a few months ago in 2017."

(Nick Agopian, Devon Energy) "One year ago today, you had 8 rigs running in the state, and today we have 25. At greater than 3 times the rig activity, you're going to soon see an increase in production across the state."

Prices are now hovering around a manageable 45 to 50 dollars a barrel.

(Hinchey): "They've been pretty steady at that, and people can make money at those levels."

To survive the bust, companies had to learn survival skills.

(Agopian): "We've lowered our chief operating expenses especially here in the Rocky Mountains... The technology to identify where it is that we want to drill and the formations that we want to drill to."

Devon Energy is drilling in the Powder River basin, where they are seeing strong results from wells on recently purchased land. Other companies are moving in too.

Oil and gas leasing auctions have netted more than 40 million dollars since march. Then comes production.

(Hinchey): "As these wells come online, that means more taxes for the state and the counties they are in."

We're not expecting 100 dollar barrels any more. The boom of the early 2010s is likely over. New Casper City Manager Carter Napier calls this "the new normal"

(Napier): "That new normal does include efficiencies, that have not been supported in the past."

Napier says ideas that maybe have been previously unsupported will be presented before the Casper City Council soon, but they are careful not to cut too deep.

(Napier): "We don't want to overreact and cut back so deeply that we negatively impact the community."