Oil & gas inspectors not keeping up with growing energy development

Feb 1, 2013

The Western Organization of Resource Councils says inspections of active oil and gas wells in the West are falling behind the industry’s quick growth. The new report says the number of active oil and gas wells in Wyoming has risen from about 16,400 in 1999 to more than 37,000 in 2011. The number of inspectors increased from 6 to 12 in the same time period. Each inspector was responsible for more than 3,000 wells in 2011. 

Powder River Basin Resource Council Board Chairman John Fenton says that spreads each inspector thin.

“I’ve never seen a BLM inspector here in Pavillion, in the gas field east of Pavillion. And a lot of this is tribal mineral rights, which the BLM has authority over, but we don’t see inspectors out here. And this has been an area that has been actively drilled for decades. I think that our personal experience here mirrors what you see in this report,” says Fenton. 

The Oil and Gas Conservation Commission does not track the number of inspection conducted, so it’s not clear how often each well gets inspected.