$50 Million Effort On To Pump Wyoming’s Hidden Oil And Gas

A who’s who of U.S. energy companies are putting up half of a $50 million partnership with the University of Wyoming to pump the hidden oil and gas in Wyoming’s mature oil fields.

Pat Maio

January 12, 20243 min read

An oil rig is all lit up at night in a Wyoming oil field.
An oil rig is all lit up at night in a Wyoming oil field. (Getty Images)

The University of Wyoming has partnered with major energy and chemical giants to develop new technologies to squeeze more oil and gas from wells difficult to pump out.

The partnership is expected to put Wyoming on the map for researching enhanced oil recovery techniques.

The private energy behemoths will put up $25 million to the partnership, called the Wyoming Gas Injection Initiative (WGII), which is expected to revitalize the state’s legacy oil fields through cutting-edge lab experiments and field pilot tests.

The state will pitch in another $25 million.

“Something of this magnitude in one geographic location, in one place, is if not unique, certainly very rare,” Mohammad Piri, the founder and director of the University of Wyoming’s Center of Innovation for Flow Through Porous Media (COIFPM), told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday.

“If expanded, this will put Wyoming at the forefront strategically of these technologies,” Piri said.

‘A Lot Of Money To Be Made’

The enhanced oil and gas recovery technologies for the partnership will be developed by UW’s COIFPM alongside titans of the energy world.

The new technologies, once developed and rolled out, could generate millions of dollars in royalties for Wyoming, Piri said.

“There is a lot of money to be made,” Piri said. “If successful, these technologies could then be scaled for our (energy) fields and yes, that could translate into generating revenues for the state.”

The energy firms attracted to the partnership include a Who’s Who list from Wall Street.

They include Midland, Michigan-based Dow Chemical Co.; Billings, Montana-based oil and gas exploration firm Ballard Petroleum Holdings LLC; Oklahoma City-based oil and gas exploration and production firm Continental Resources Inc.; Oklahoma City-based energy exploration firm Devon Energy Corp.; and Houston-based exploration firm Occidental Petroleum Corp.

“We were thrilled to see the caliber of companies and level of capital commitment,” Piri said.

No New Wells

WGII will not fund any new wells.

Instead, it will focus on boosting production in the state’s mature fields in Campbell, Converse and Johnson counties.

The university’s innovation center believes that WGII will generate appreciable increases in total production in those oil fields.

“This would be a great benefit to the state in private-sector jobs growth as well as correlated mineral royalty gains,” Piri said.

WGII will devote two years to laboratory study of Wyoming reservoir rock along with tests to determine which processes and injected additives give optimal production results for each oil field.

“We are one of a select few labs in the world that can replicate reservoir and production conditions while viewing what’s happening at multiple scales,” he said.

By 2026, COIFPM and the WGII operators hope to apply the lab findings in pilot test wells in other parts of the state.

“If you want next-level solutions and market-leading breakthroughs, the action is in Wyoming,” Piri said.

Pat Maio can be reached at pat@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Pat Maio


Pat Maio is a veteran journalist who covers energy for Cowboy State Daily.