Less than two years after his predecessor resigned, Wyoming Oil and Gas Supervisor Grant Black on Monday took the same exit route, following a closed meeting of the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (OGCC).

Lead petroleum engineer Mark Watson has been appointed as interim supervisor for the OGCC, which includes Gov. Matt Mead. Watson has a petroleum engineering degree.

In June 2012, then Oil and Gas Supervisor Tom Doll resigned after getting into a flap with Mead over comments the state agency head made at an industry meeting (see Daily GPI, June 18, 2012). Black replaced Doll at that time.

Following the latest resignation, Mead said the commission plays “an integral role” in Wyoming by helping safeguard public safety and health while facilitating responsible development of natural gas and oil, which the state has historically had in abundance. The governor called gas and oil the “key to the entire country and our economy.”

Last year, with the supervisor’s position still vacant, the governor signed a law changing the qualifications to allow more than just petroleum engineers to be considered for the position (see Daily GPI, Feb. 19, 2013). The state hired Black, a 30-year geology veteran but not a petroleum engineer, to replace Doll, effective May 1, 2013 (see Daily GPI, March 18, 2013).

Mead said the OGCC “has a lot on its plate” right now, including a baseline water rule, reclaiming and plugging poorly abandoning wells, new rules to review related issues such as flaring, setbacks and bonding of operators. He said the efforts will move forward even with the ongoing search for Black’s permanent replacement.

“I thank Grant for his willingness to step forward and head the commission,” Mead said. Neither Mead nor OGCC Chair Bridger Hill, director of the state Office of State Lands and Investments, would say what prompted Black to leave.