More Than $11 Million Earmarked For Wyoming Oil, Mineral Projects

An influential panel of Wyoming's Energy Matching Funds program wants to spend more than $11 million to evaluate two projects that could help energize electric vehicles and squeeze more oil out of the ground.

Pat Maio

February 29, 20244 min read

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An influential five-person review panel of Wyoming’s Energy Matching Funds program has recommended nearly $11 million to evaluate two projects that could help energize electric vehicles and squeeze more oil out of the ground.

The sponsors of the projects expect to kick in another $12 million to fund their efforts, putting their total combined spending at $23 million on innovative energy projects in Wyoming.

The matching funds program is aimed at spurring innovation and bring more energy development to Wyoming.

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon has final say on the two projects, which are administered by the Wyoming Energy Authority.

A designee from Gordon’s office, and the top executives from the WEA, the Department of Workforce Services, Wyoming Business Council and University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources, made the preliminary recommendation on the two projects Wednesday.

A 10-day public comment period closes March 8.

In 2022, the Legislature appropriated $100 million to Gordon’s office to provide matching money for private or federal funding for projects that range from carbon dioxide transportation to lithium processing and battery storage.

The Legislature kicked in an additional $50 million in 2023.

Recover More Oil

The two projects recommended by the review committee Wednesday include ATR Partners I LLC, working with Principle Petroleum LLC, and another by Visionary Metals Corp., doing business as Lost Creek Corp. in Wyoming.

In the first project, the review committee recommended $9.9 million for ATR Partners and Principle Petroleum for its Alpha pilot project in Campbell County.

That project wants to recover 4.8 million barrels of oil from an energy field in the Campbell County, according to information provided by the WEA.

Wyoming is home to numerous oil and gas fields where billions of barrels of reserves remain stranded because of declining reservoirs and a lack of feasible enhanced oil recovery alternatives.

While fossil fuels will play a meaningful role in Wyoming’s energy future, the state is facing the need to develop other long-term, sustainable energy sources — like that proposed by ATR Partners and Principle Petroleum.

ATR Partners and Principle Petroleum, which are both headquartered in Dallas, formally call their project the Alpha Enriched Air Enhanced Oil Recovery, Carbon Sequestration and Hydrogen Production Pilot Project.

The companies plan to tap an additional $9.9 million for the project from elsewhere, giving it a total investment of $19.7 million.

Rare Earths

In the second project, Vancouver, Canada-based Visionary Metals Corp., parent of Lost Creek, said it wants to evaluate Wyoming’s mineral resource potential for strategic minerals like nickel, cobalt and platinum, at its King Solomon Nickel and Cobalt project.

The project is located about 10 miles north of Jeffrey City, a former uranium boomtown in central Wyoming that went bust half a century ago.

The minerals that Visionary Metals is evaluating are needed to produce stainless steel and batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles and air purifying devices like catalytic converters for automobiles.

Copper, which is a byproduct from nickel, cobalt and platinum, can be used to make electric motors, power lines and consumer electronics.

Visionary Metals said it has a budget of about $3.1 million for its study, with about $1 million coming from the WEA’s Energy Matching Funds program.

Other Projects

In January, six Wyoming-based projects received more than $157 million in matching money from federal, state and private sources. Nearly $38 million of that came from the state.

Awards for these six energy projects went out in January to a team of Black Hills Energy, the electric utility unit of South Dakota-based parent Black Hills Corp.; Ohio-based energy technology company Babcock & Wilcox Enterprises Inc.; Colorado-based Cowboy Clean Fuels LLC; Casper-based Flowstate Technologies LLC; Membrane Technology and Research Inc., which is building a carbon capture pilot project at Gillette’s Wyoming Integrated Test Center; the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources; and Oklahoma-based energy giant Williams Cos. Inc.

The first award in the energy matching funds program was made in August for $19.1 million to research nuclear technologies and carbon storage.

Some issues have arisen of late in the current budget session challenging funding of WEA projects.

Sen. Cheri Steinmetz, R-Lingle, believes that there may be too much money available at the fingertips of Gordon to spend on these programs for alternative approaches to energy.

“Wyoming citizens deserve to weigh in on where they want taxpayer dollars to go,” said Steinmetz in a statement released Wednesday.

Pat Maio can be reached at

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Pat Maio


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