Mark Watson Speech

CASPER – The annual Wyoming Oil and Gas Fair and Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute conference opened Tuesday morning at the Casper Events Center.

Tuesday’s program involved speakers from politics, industry and government. Fremont County Senator Eli Bebout, R-Riverton, was the fair’s keynote speaker. Bebout chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee. He discussed challenges facing the oil and gas industry, state revenue issues and possible legislation coming in the 2020 legislative session.

A panel of seven legislative leaders held forth for an hour, discussing all manner of topics related to mineral development, revenues and the state of the industry.

Wyoming Oil and Gas Commission Supervisor Mark Watson noted that the state could see an increase in oil production in 2019.

"If production this year remains at the same rate, we should end the year at 96 million barrels of oil,” Watson said. This compares to 87.9 million barrels in 2018 and 75.7 million barrels in 2017.

Watson showed a slide listing Wyoming as the eighth-largest oil producing state, following Texas, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Alaska, California and Colorado. By comparison, in February of this year, Wyoming saw 7,436 barrels produced, but Texas saw 138,924 barrels produced. EOG Resources is Wyoming’s largest producer at 14.5 million barrels produced from 1,483 wells.

Watson also noted that natural gas production this year should hit 1.6 1 trillion cubic feet. This lags a bit behind 2017 and 2018, which saw 1.81 trillion cubic feet of gas produced. Wyoming also finds itself eighth nationally in gas production.

Applications for permits to drill (APD) are up for every month this year compared to last year. July’s count was more than 3,500 APDs. Interest in drilling came from APDs filed in Converse County. Dozens of horizontal wells have been drilled in Converse County recently. Watson noted that more wells are being drilled between Casper and Douglas than in any other place in the state.

A key part of Watson's presentation concerned a proposed commission rule to address the high volume of APDs received. A commission press release issued in July stated that “the proposed rule is intended to provide a ‘level playing field’ for all operators with the intent to drill and develop minerals in the state.” With the new rule, Wyoming will continue to be a “first to file” state, but only for a two-year period. After that period, other working interest owners within a drilling and spacing unit will be able to file APDs, with a time limit placed on the operator to drill the well.

The public comment period on the rulemaking ends this Friday, Sept 14. The agency’s website is wogcc.wyo.gov.

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