The confirmation of a newly-discovered oilfield in Wyoming that could top one billion barrels has a state senator in Wyoming cautiously excited about its prospects.
Last Friday’s news that Canadian Overseas Petroleum Limited confirmed the presence of a 993 million- barrel oil reserve in Natrona and Converse counties has Wyoming State Senator Ogden Driskill (R-Devils Tower) comparing it to the massive Bakken oil reserve in North Dakota.
It could be huge for the state, Driskill said, but the benefit depends on what President Biden’s “anti-oil administration allows,” as most of the land is likely on federal property.
“It’s huge, if they permit it. That’s nearly a billion barrels of oil, it’d be pretty close to a Bakken (oil field) and, if it is, it’s probably very altering for Wyoming,” Driskill said. “We get a pretty good chunk of money out of that.”
The Bakken Formation occupies about 200,000 square miles beneath parts of Montana and North Dakota in the United States and Saskatchewan and Manitoba in Canada. The formation was discovered in 1953. A United States Geological Survey study conducted in 1999 estimated the reserve ranged from 271 to 503 billion barrels of oil.
Driskill said how much this new find will help Wyoming depends on how fast it can be developed and the location of the reserve.
“It’s substantial money. It depends on how fast they develop it,” Driskill said. “Of course, the rigs are available. It depends how much of it is on federal ground and how much of it is federal minerals and what the Biden Administration does to us because they have not been very forthcoming with helping with energy development.”
Driskill said the more of the reserve that is on federal land instead of state land, the more developers will depend on cooperation from the federal government, which is his prime worry.
“I think it’s a pretty awesome spot but there’s just piles of federal ground through that part of central Wyoming,” Driskill said. “The company seems very confident that their reserves are proven and they’re proven by a means that’s solid. We’re probably hinging very hard on the federal government issuing permits and taking care of us.”
Optimism Despite Biden
The oil company’s CEO and president expressed optimism despite the Biden administration’s track record in dealing with the oil and gas industry.
“This independent Report validates what we announced at the start of the year and highlights the significant potential of our fantastic Wyoming asset,” Arthur Millholland said.
“We expect to see further exploration upside in due course once our drilling program gets under way in the coming months,” he said.
The company said it plans to drill three Frontier wells in the final quarter of this year with two of them being horizontal wells.
Driskill said, if developed, the oil reserve will put “Wyoming back up there” in terms of oil-producing states.
“That’s really a positive deal and it’s always welcome when our energy industry comes through,” Driskill said.