By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The head of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming is encouraging Wyoming residents to tune in to Gov. Mark Gordon’s Gas and Diesel Price Working Group meeting on Friday, saying the information to be provided during the event will go beyond “bumper sticker slogans.”
Pete Obermueller, executive director of PAW, told Cowboy State Daily on Monday that as one of the presenters on Friday, he intends to talk about what current oil production is like in Wyoming, which is not ideal.
However, he added he did not believe the group would be able to offer any immediate solutions.
“I don’t believe there’s anything this group can do right off the bat that would tip the scales one way or another with respect to a global commodity and prices that are set on a global scale,” Obermueller said. “In terms of the meeting itself or the group having influence on a price reduction, that’s just not possible.”
The meeting will be held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday at the Herschler Building in Cheyenne. It will also be streamed on Zoom. The working group will take public comment during the meeting.
The group’s chair, Brenda Henson, director of the Wyoming Department of Revenue, told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that the meeting is more of a “fact-finding mission” than anything else.
As Obermueller pointed out, the group is hindered by federal and global regulations and supply, which affect not only Wyoming, but the rest of the United States.
“We have no preconceived notions about what our recommendations to the governor should or shouldn’t look like,” Henson said. “We are truly looking at an investigative process and whatever happens, the knowledge will be better than it was previously.”
Obermueller said the problem right now with fuel prices is high demand coupled with limited supply.
“We saw the margins rebalancing a little bit, particularly as the supply started coming through refineries, which have basically been running at capacity, nationwide” he said. “For several weeks, they’ve been starting to catch up with demand, but here in Wyoming, we’re staying paying $4.50, $4.60 at the pump.”
Right now, Wyoming has 21 oil rigs operating, which Obermueller said was “better than zero,” but not as good as the more than 30 that were running prior to the pandemic in 2020.
In June, Gov. Mark Gordon created the Gas and Diesel Price Working Group, convening officials and legislators from across the state to discuss the high cost of fuel that has hit both the state and the nation.
Some of the members of the working group include Wyoming Department of Transportation Director Luke Reiner, Jonathan Downing of the Colorado-Wyoming Petroleum Marketers Association and state Reps. Clark Stith, Rock Springs, and Mike Greear, R-Worland.
Wyoming’s average gas price per gallon of $4.80 on Tuesday was higher than the national average, $4.65.
The highest reported gasoline price in Wyoming on Tuesday was in Moose, near Jackson, at $5.79 per gallon.
Obermueller said neither he nor anyone else can predict a break from the gas prices in the short-term future, which is why he does not believe that the working group will be able to provide any solutions for the time being that Gordon has not already tried.
“From my honest perspective, the very best thing we can do is try to push through the headwinds to increase our production of oil from Wyoming’s resources,” he said. “We do have a supply, but we’re just in a situation where in addition to the workforce and supply chain challenges we have, we are operating in an environment where the federal government is openly hostile to the work we do. So that makes it difficult.”