The Wyoming Senate began debate on a bill that would increase bonding requirements for oil and gas operators on split estate properties.
The bill would increase the bond for operators drilling on land where they don't own the surface rights from two-thousand dollars to ten thousand. Supporters say that operators are causing surface damage in excess of ten thousand dollars.
Senators voted down an amendment to reduce limit the bond to six thousand dollars. Kaycee Senator John Schiffer says the higher bond helps protect landowner rights.
“The ten thousand dollar bond is the incentive the operator has to come negotiate what is the surface damages. And it’s the actual acreage, what they are doing on it, and also the time frame they’re gonna do it.”
Schiffer said that if a operator takes longer than expected, it can have a serious financial impact on a rancher.
Senator Jim Anderson of Glenrock says with the current bond, operators can just pay the two-thousand dollars and not negotiate a damage agreement with landowners. Other Senators noted that collecting a bond can be a difficult process.
Senator Eli Bebout is concerned that a higher bond could hurt small oil and gas operators. Anderson told Bebout that he will try and work with him to address his concern.
The bill will be debated two more times.