By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Gov. Mark Gordon is dedicating up to $12 million in federal CARES Act funds to re-launch the Energy Rebound Program, which is designed to get more people working in the energy industry.
In 2020, the program provided capital for specified oil and gas projects, including drilled but uncompleted ventures, the replacement of equipment to lengthen the life of wells and the reclamation of oil and gas wells through the plugging and abandonment process.
“The Energy Rebound Program successfully provided opportunities for oil and gas industry employees who lost jobs when drilling ceased last year,” Gordon said. “This program will continue to provide economic benefits to this important industry, their workforce and the entire state of Wyoming.”
Wyoming’s oil and gas industry is lagging due to external market factors, according to the governor’s office.
Currently, there are nine drilling rigs operating in Wyoming, down from more than 30 running in February 2020.
The program again target projects that bring immediate economic benefits, including job growth and revenue, along with the environmental benefits of plugging and reclaiming oil and gas wells that are no longer in use or near the end of their useful life.
“As energy demand continues to increase, private-land production states have seen a quicker rebound, one that has yet to reach Wyoming’s federally-owned resources. Given the success of the inaugural Energy Rebound Program, a jobs program at its core, Gov. Gordon’s decision to initiate a second round makes perfect sense,” said Pete Obermueller, President of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming. “In 2020, despite a quick turnaround over the holidays, the men and women of the oil and gas industry stepped up, utilizing more than 100 service companies from 14 Wyoming towns to complete their work, supporting thousands of local jobs and kickstarting more than $150 million in new production.”
Last year, the oil and gas industry had just six weeks to identify and complete projects. This time, the projects will need to be completed by the end of the year.
There will be a cap of $500,000 for each approved project.
There will be a cap of $500,000 for each approved project and the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will administer the program.
Oil and gas operators will need to certify the number of jobs created for Wyoming workers. To qualify as a Wyoming worker, the worker must be a resident of Wyoming at the time of the application.
“We look forward to supporting the governor’s Energy Rebound Program by administering this additional funding. The program has proven to be successful in supporting projects and employment within the oil and gas industry,” stated WOGCC Deputy Supervisor Tom Kropatsch. “Our evaluation of the applications and post program reporting to ensure compliance with program rules will be essential in making this version of the Energy Rebound Program as successful as the first.”
The WOGCC will accept applications from June 15 through June 25.