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Wyoming Oil, Gas Revenues Surge Amid Visions of 'Boom Time' Returning

Revenues from federal and state oil/natural gas lease sales this year in Wyoming shot up dramatically compared to their anemic levels a year earlier, prompting industry and government officials to conjure up visions of a return to more boom-like times ahead in the state oil/gas fields.

In total, Wyoming net revenues for the lease sales overall produced $146 million, involving nearly a half-million acres of state and federal lands in 2017. Sales of state land leases brought in about $60 million of that, compared with annual proceeds in previous years of $5-$7 million following the global oil commodity price crash in 2014.

State Oil/Gas Supervisor Mark Watson cautioned that he doesn't think this necessarily points to enough of a resurgence to be designated a "boom" for the oil/gas operators in Wyoming, but it does indicate they are "cautiously optimistic." And that newfound optimism comes for the increase in current prices, Watson told NGI's Shale Daily.     

"Our rig county is up a third over last year, and currently it stands at 25, so operators are more positive about the near-term future," Watson said. His latest monthly report to the state commission noted that last year the rig count was 19 at this time of year. Applications for drilling permits in November totaled 1,485, an increase from the previous month's 1,348 total.

Regarding the year-over-year turnaround in lease sale proceeds, U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) cautioned that a variety of factors influence the lease auction results that the federal agency holds for tracts of public lands.

Among the different factors are: the level of industry interest, location of parcels available, resource objectives and BLM's planning efforts. "These factors can vary from sale to sale," said Kristen Lenhardt, a BLM deputy state communications director in Casper, WY.

"It's difficult to predict if 2017 is a trend because of so many variables that play into BLM's oil and gas lease sales," said Lenhardt, reiterating the federal agency's approach regarding oil/gas development on public lands.

"Environmentally-responsible energy development on public lands continues to be a priority for the BLM, and we will continue to process nominated parcels as quickly and efficiently as possible for each sale," she said. 

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