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Wyoming Governor Welcomes Renewed GTL Potential

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead sees the potential for turning his state's fossil fuels into gasoline as something that could add economic value to the state's rich natural resources, according to Mead's chief spokesperson. NGI asked for the governor's response to the recent report that a legislative committee wants the state to help underwrite a study of the potential for turning natural gas and coal into gasoline (see Daily GPI, June 24).

"Generally, the governor is interested in any project that adds economic value to the energy resources of the state," said Renny MacKay, the governor's communications director. MacKay did concede that the first-year governor has not had a chance to examine the proposal by Casper, WY-based Nerd Gas Co. in detail.

The proposal has its roots in what MacKay called "a very robust model" developed earlier through a partnership between the Wyoming Business Council and the federal government's Idaho National Laboratory. As Mead is aware, gas-to-liquids (GTL) is gaining attraction as an offshoot of the shale gas boom to hedge against thinner margins on the production of some of the gas itself.

Given the technical feasibility and the needed financing from the private sector, the potential is great for a state like Wyoming, the governor has indicated.

"Wyoming has a vast natural gas resource," said MacKay, speaking for the governor. "There is no reason to believe that the state could only support a single GTL project. [But] as always, a new project depends on a lot of specifics including location, natural gas resources and developer economics."

State matching funds are being sought in some proposed legislation to cover part of the estimated $5 million cost of a study needed to help design the proposed facility envisioned by privately held Nerd. It hopes to build the complex on land it owns next to Lake DeSmet, south of Sheridan, WY, that was once the proposed site of a major coal gasification plant.

Nerd's proposal is the first serious one of its kind to come before Mead since he took office in January. However, MacKay pointed out that the governor is well aware of GTL proposals involving Sasol and Talisman in Canada and Shell in the Mideast.

Mead was asked about potential downsides, but he declined to answer, noting through MacKay that the negative issues will have to be assessed in detail to determine whether they can be mitigated against.

"The benefits and costs of a project are always specific to the location, the technology, the economics and the general impact," MacKay said.

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