5,000-Well Oil & Gas Project Proposed in Converse County
The US Bureau of Land Management on Thursday announced a proposal to permit as many as 5,000 oil and natural gas wells in Converse County.
A final environmental impact statement was published Wednesday. BLM officials will take public comments on the project for 30 days.
The BLM said the project is "in support of the Trump Administration's goals to promote responsible American energy independence."
Companies involved in the project include Occidental Petroleum, Chesapeake Energy, Devon Energy, EOG Resources and Northwoods Energy. The project would take place over 1.5 million acres during a 10-year period, according to Wednesday's announcement.
It also includes amendments to resource management rules that woul allow for year-round drilling while keeping the conservation of non-eagle raptor species in mind.
Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon said the project would be good for Wyoming, particularly in a time when the state faces unprecedented economic challenges.
"This project builds a consistent framework for energy development in Converse County," Gordon said. "it took a long time, but in the end I am eager to see this important project come to fruition."
The BLM says the project could generate up to 8,000 jobs and roughly $18 to $28 billion in federal revenues to be shared with the State of Wyoming.
But it's not clear that those jobs or drilling rigs would come under the current economic climate.
According to the weekly Baker Hughes rig count only one oil rig is currently drilling in Wyoming. That's down from 35 rigs drilling at the same time last year.
Regarding a similar project in Wyoming, U.S. Bureau of Land Management Public Information Specialist Brad Purdy said it's not uncommon for companies to delay development on a project after it's approved.
For example, the BLM announced a permitting process to drill upward of 4,000 wells in Fremont and Natrona Counties in April last year. Both companies involved in the project said there no immediate plans to drill under the market conditions at the time.
"The pace of the drilling program will depend on many factors, including the price of natural gas," an Aethon spokesperson said at the time. "Currently, Aethon does not have any immediate plans to conduct a large scale drilling program."
Conoco Phillips subsidiary, Burlington Resources, also showed hesitation for immediate long-term development for the Moneta plan.
"The company has the potential to drill up to 150 new wells as a part of the project, but our acreage is primarily dry gas and at current commodity prices, is unlikely to compete for funding in our portfolio," the company said.