The Department of the Interior’s Office on Natural Resources Revenue – or ONRR – is fining Pure Petroleum more than $300,000 for not filing monthly production reports.
Reports detailing production on public lands are used to check the accuracy of royalty payments to the government. According to ONRR spokesman, Patrick Etchart, Pure Petroleum has not filed production reports on 16 leases since 2006.
A bill in Congress that would give states the exclusive right to regulate hydraulic fracturing has raised the ire of a national sportsmen’s advocacy group. Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development has released a statement supporting federal regulation. U-S Representative for Wyoming, Cynthia Lummis is a member of the Natural Resources Committee, which sponsored House Bill 2728 against federal regulation.
As the state initiates its investigation of water quality issues in Pavillion, two state agencies plan to review existing data before deciding how to proceed. The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and the Department of Environmental Quality will look at the well bore integrity of about 50 oil and gas wells within a quarter mile of 14 domestic water wells that had at least one pollutant at levels above drinking water standards.
Dirty water from the oil wells flows through oil-caked pipes into a settling pit where trucks vacuum off the oil. A net covers the pit to keep out birds and other wildlife. Streams of this wastewater flow through the reservation and join natural creeks and rivers.
The Environmental Protection Agency is taking public comments on the extension of several water discharge permits on the Wind River Indian Reservation.
The EPA is looking at renewing existing permits that allow companies to pump waste water from oil and gas fields to the surface on the Reservation. The produced water exemption allows this practice only in the arid West. In general, state agencies have tighter regulations than the EPA about what can be pumped to the surface, but tribal land is under the EPA’s jurisdiction.
The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission voted Tuesday to start the formal rulemaking process to establish baseline water testing in the state. The rule would require oil and gas operators to collect water samples before beginning development.
Julianne Couch is the author of Traveling the Power Line, a book about the many energy sources we tap into for our power needs – from oil and gas, to wind, to solar and uranium.
Couch teaches at the University of Wyoming and has also written Jukeboxes and Jackalopes: A Wyoming Bar Journey and Waking Up Western: Collected Essays. She now lives in Iowa but stopped by the studio to talk to Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov about her book.
Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck spoke with the new supervisor of the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, Grant Black. Since he started the job a few weeks ago, Black has been dealing with issues ranging from the flaring of natural gas to water contamination. He says the flaring issue is interesting.
Mining industry representatives and researchers are gathering in Laramie this week for the meeting of the American Society of Mining and Reclamation. The last time Wyoming hosted the American Society of Mining and Reclamation was in 2007. Peter Stahl, director of the Wyoming Reclamation and Restoration Center, says the fact that the industry gathering has returned to Wyoming so soon is a testament to the state’s role in the field of land reclamation.
Encana’s Moneta Divide Natural Gas and Oil Development Project outside of Casper is still waiting for an Environmental Impact Statement, but it is slated to receive a record of decision in 2016. The proposed four thousand well development has brought up questions surrounding water management and air quality. But at the legislature’s Joint Mineral, Business, and Economic Development Interim Committee meeting yesterday, Natrona County Commissioner Rob Hendry said he wants the project to go ahead.
Governor Matt Mead and his policy director, Shawn Reese, released an energy policy for Wyoming at a press conference today. The policy contains 47 initiatives broken down into categories including economic competitiveness and expansion, regulation, conservation, and education. Reese said there were a number of hallmark initiatives.
A lawsuit filed by Tripower Resources says the energy company is not responsible for about $885,000 in back taxes from 2008 to 2010. Tripower says it did not own the wells from which these production taxes accumulated during the time period in question. But Campbell, Crook, and Converse Counties have listed the company as tax-delinquent. They’re applying taxes from current production to the owed back-taxes. Converse County treasurer Joel Schell says, according to statute, the current owner is responsible for any unpaid taxes.
A report by the Western Organization of Resource Councils says the oil and gas industry is using at least seven billion gallons of water per year in just four states: Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota. The report says after industry is done with that water, it turns into a hazardous material, and in some cases cannot be reused for other purposes.
Powder River Basin Resource Council member Robert LeResche says he’s also worried about states’ lack of regulations regarding the quantity of water used.
The Environmental Protection Agency is asking for more information from Encana Oil and Gas before signing off on the company’s request for an aquifer exemption. Encana wants to pump waste water into the Madison Aquifer from their oil and gas field in the Moneta Divide. The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has already approved the request, but the EPA says the modeling of the plume that Encana did is too broad and the agency wants more information about why, according to Encana, the relatively clean water can’t be used for other purposes .
Native American tribes need to make sure they are protecting their natural resources. Eastern Shoshone Business Council member Wes Martel, from the Wind River Indian Reservation, spoke during a University of Wyoming American Indian Studies program this week. Martel said tribes need to be more careful about the kinds of contracts they enter into for energy development. He added that water is the new gold but very few tribes are taking real steps to secure this resource.
Oil development in the state is bringing up natural gas along with the oil, but some of the gas is getting burned off in flares and the state is missing out on taxes and royalty payments. The reason the gas is getting flared is that there are not enough pipelines in place to connect new wells to markets.
The President of the Wyoming Petroleum Association, Bruce Hinchey, says it doesn’t always make sense to build new pipelines for the relatively small quantities of gas coming up.
A Federal appeals court recently ruled that the Bureau of Land management did not do a thorough job in determining the effects of some oil and gas leases sold between 2005 and 2010 in Wyoming and Utah.
The ruling backed up an Interior Department decision that was objected to by industry groups who argued that leases are supposed to be issued promptly after an auction. Environmental groups joined the lawsuit. Earthjustice Attorney Melanie Kay says the ruling was common sense.
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.
The Legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee will introduce a bill that would modify bonds for seismic exploration for oil and gas on private land. If passed, companies doing any seismic exploration would have to put up a $5,000 bond for the first 1,000 acres being explored, with increases for acreage beyond that. The outgoing chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Kermit Brown of Laramie, said there have been complaints about the current regulations.
The Department of Interior has authorized a 60 day extension of the comment period for the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed hydraulic fracturing regulations, following concerns from the oil and gas industry. The rules would call for companies that use fracking to disclose the chemicals they use, and address waste water and drilling issues.
Two Wyoming conversation groups have joined others in suing to protect the Fortification Creek area of the Powder River Basin from natural gas development.
The Wyoming Outdoor Council and Powder River Basic Resource Council complain that the Bureau of Land Management approved a plan to allow coalbed methane development in an area that was previously protected from energy development.
Retired B-L-M Wildlife Biologist Larry Gerard says the move surprised him because the area is filled with wildlife.
More than half of the public lands in the continental U.S. that have been leased to oil and gas companies are not actually being drilled, according to a report by the Department of the Interior.
Bruce Hinchey of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming says that’s because there are so many hoops that oil and gas companies have to jump through. He says it often takes over a year to get a permit to drill. And Environmental Impact Statements, which are required for large-scale energy development, take even longer.
Western state officials took turns bashing the federal government at a congressional field hearing on proposed nationwide drilling rules on hydraulic fracturing. But Democrats on the panel Wednesday, along with some Colorado environmental activists, insisted that health concerns around the drilling procedure known as fracking mean there is a need for common health and safety standards. Officials from Colorado, Wyoming and Utah testified before the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Wednesday at the
Wells drilled in the Niobrara shale in southeastern Wyoming aren’t producing nearly as much oil as some had expected. But Anadarko Petroleum, one of the big oil companies exploring the shale, expressed nothing but optimism at a Business Expo in Cheyenne Tuesday.
Wells drilled in the Wyoming part of the Niobrara Shale are producing less than half the amount of oil that wells in Colorado are producing. That’s according to Wyoming Oil and Gas Supervisor Tom Doll, who discussed the matter with lawmakers late last week. However, Bruce Hinchey of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming isn’t discouraged. He said the eastern Wyoming drilling site has a lot of potential –they just have to figure out exactly how to tap into it. “It’s not a play where you just go out and punch a hole and you’ve got a big oil well.
The Wyoming Board of Land Commissioners voted unanimously this/Thursday morning to approve a new lease form that will govern oil and gas extraction on state lands. Assistant Director of the Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments Harold Kemp says the new form puts in writing many longstanding state requirements. For example, he says, it clarifies what deductions industry may claim before making royalty payments to the state. Kemp says the changes have been a long time coming.