Wyoming’s Oil and Gas Resources Summarized as we Start the New Decade

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC

This month, the Wyoming State Geological Survey issued the Oil and Natural Gas Resources in Wyoming January 2020 Summary Report. A free copy may be downloaded here. The report assesses where the Cowboy State is, and forecasts where it is headed, when it comes to one of the state’s most valuable resources – oil and natural gas.

In short, the outlook for the Cowboy State is positive and the oil and gas sector appears poised for growth.


By way of a quick summary, the report provides as follows:

  • “Wyoming oil production is forecast to reach levels not seen since 1993 for the second consecutive year.”
  • “With substantial reserves of oil and natural gas (the EIA estimates Wyoming reserves are enough to supply the U.S. with 46 days of oil and 262 days of gas), a favorable regulatory environment, and operators’ increased ability to lower production costs in unconventional reservoir development, Wyoming will remain a significant contributor to the national energy portfolio.”
  • Natural Gas Leader: “The Greater Green River Basin is the top gas-producing basin in Wyoming, accounting for 60 percent of the state’s 2018 natural gas production.”
    • Projects in this basin are progressing more slowly than anticipated and hoped; however, “[t]hese long-term projects will significantly increase the basin’s total natural gas production if and when they come online.”
  • Oil Production Leader: “The Powder River Basin has traditionally been, and continues to be, Wyoming’s top oil-producing basin, consistently accounting for at least one-third—and since 2014, more than half—of the state’s oil annually.”
    • The future of Powder River Basin oil production in general will be largely dependent on market conditions and will be “susceptible to crude oil prices, surpluses, and the international market.”
  • Wildcatter: Wildcat wells, defined by the Commission as, “wells outside known fields or new wells which are determined by the Commission to have discovered oil or gas in a pool not previously proven productive,” accounted for 40 percent of the state’s total 2018 oil production. “This percent-contribution from wildcat wells is expected to continue its upward trend in the future.”

TAKEAWAY: While Wyoming continues efforts to diversify its economy, the report has provided good news for the anticipated growth of the oil and gas sector in the Cowboy State as we start 2020. We all hope that the upward trends seen in the report continues!

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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