drilling

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The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission introduced a rule this week designed to head off conflict between landowners and companies as drilling activity moves into populated areas of the state. But so far, reaction to the proposal has been less-than-positive. Wyoming Public Radio’s energy reporter, Stephanie Joyce, joins Bob Beck to talk about what’s been proposed and why landowners aren’t happy with it.

Bob Beck: At the center of this debate are something called “setbacks” – what is a setback and why is it so important?

Stephanie Joyce

It’s lunchtime in Douglas, Wyoming and the line of cars at the McDonald’s drive-thru wraps around the building. A hiring poster hangs in the window and the parking lot is full. Leaning out the window of his black pick-up truck, Troy Hilbish says he had no idea oil prices have fallen more than a quarter in recent months. But he knows what falling oil prices mean. 

“If the oil prices go up, we drill more," he says. "If they go down, we don't drill as much.”

What would the nation’s energy policy look like if Republicans capture the Senate this November? Matt Laslo caught up with Wyoming lawmakers and energy analysts to find out the potential impact on the state’s energy sector if the GOP gains control of the upper chamber.

Lauren Rosenthal / KUCB

Click here to read Part 3 of the Dark Side Of The Boom series.

The dangers of the Bering Sea crab fishery have been made famous by the reality TV show Deadliest Catch. But, in the last 15 years, that industry has become much safer, in large part thanks to collaboration between industry, scientists and regulators. We wondered: are there lessons that the oil and gas industry could learn from the crab industry’s safety gains?

Flickr user Lindsey G

Click here to read Part 1 of the Dark Side Of The Boom series.

North Dakota is the most dangerous state in the country for oil and gas workers.

But that fact hasn't gotten a lot of attention until now. Governor Jack Dalrymple announced to Inside Energy this week that he's planning to bring together the state’s top safety officials to look into fatalities in the industry, and to see what they can do better.

An oil and gas worker pours a defoaming agent into the drill string.

As oil production continues to boom in the Powder River Basin, illegal wastewater dumping is a growing problem. Kodiak Oilfield in Converse County was recently cited for illegally dumping produced water, one of 14 water violations in the state so far this year.

Oil fields typically produce about twice as much water as they do oil – water that is high in sodium content and contains hydrocarbons. Dumping this water into streams, rivers, or fields could interfere with natural habitat, soil, and water quality.

C European Union 2012

If you live right next to a drilling rig, or your kids go to school beside a fracking site, or your county is suddenly littered with well pads  -- are there health risks? That’s a question that’s been asked from Pennsylvania to North Dakota, from Colorado to Texas as more and more people find themselves and their towns in the midst of an unprecedented energy boom.

The Wyoming House of Representatives began debating a bill that would increase the bonding required from oil and gas developers who need to drill on private surface land. 

The bond is used in lieu of a negotiated surface use agreement between landowners and energy companies. The agreement established payment for surface damage. Currently the bond is two thousand dollars and the bill would raise it to ten thousand dollars. 

Nearly half of Wyoming is federal land, and the government collects billions of dollars in taxes and royalties every year from industries using that land. But it isn’t always clear where that money goes, and who benefits from it. Now, an international initiative is trying to change that.

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After what the state characterized as a knock-down, drag-out fight with Chesapeake Oil, it’s planning to allow drilling in a sage grouse conservation area.

The protected areas were established by executive order in 2011 in order to conserve critical sage grouse habitat, with the goal of keeping the bird off the endangered species list. The new plan modifies the protections in an area near Douglas where Chesapeake has oil and gas leases. 

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Governor Matt Mead is considering requiring companies to test for groundwater contamination before drilling for oil or gas.

The new requirement would be part of the Mead’s energy strategy for the state. The goal is to make it easier to determine whether contaminated water was the result of energy production.

Jill Morrison with the Powder River Basin Resource Council says the proposed requirement is long overdue.

The oil and gas industry is trying to ease environmental concerns by developing nontoxic fluids for hydraulic fracturing.
 
But it's not clear whether the fluids will be widely embraced by drilling companies.
 

Fracking has made it possible to tap into energy reserves across the nation but also has raised concerns about pollution, since large volumes of water along with sand and hazardous chemicals are injected underground to free the oil and gas from rock.
 

       The Lincoln County Commissioners are backing True Oil L-L-C proposal to drill two gas wells in the Bridger-Teton National Forest.  One well would be located on a well pad where oil development has already occurred, the second would be a new well.  

Lincoln County Commission Chairman Kent Connelly says the company plans to use new technology to recover the gas, and that’s why they support the plan.

 “With the technology change in drilling in there, you can do this; it’s not a really invasive approach that they are talking about doing.”

A new report tracks the amount of oil and gas drilling that’s gone on over the past 10 years in different counties across the Rocky Mountains.

Julia Haggerty, one of the authors of the report, says the pace and scale of drilling has a profound effect on local communities – not only during the height of a boom, but in the time right before and after. Haggerty says more research needs to be done on how counties rebound after a bust.

The Bureau of Land Management is seeking public comments on a company's plans to drill up to 88 new wells in western Wyoming.

Chevron USA, Inc., is proposing to expand the Table Rock Field 40 miles east of Rock Springs with 33 shallow oil wells and 20 deep gas wells. As many as 35 water injection wells also would be drilled.

The BLM says just over 300 acres would be disturbed and the wells would have a lifespan of between 40 and 55 years.