New blm director briefs commission on oil, gas projects _ business _ casperjournal. com

Casper, WY (82601) Today Mostly sunny this morning then becoming cloudy during the afternoon. A few flurries or snow showers possible. High 29F. Winds SW at 10 to 20 mph.. Tonight Snow showers. Low 18F. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of snow 50%. Updated: January 16, 2016 @ 3:53 am Full Forecast Tim Wilson, the newly appointed manager of the Casper Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management, told the Natrona County commissioners that while drilling applications were dropping due to the downturn in the mineral industry, they still had a backlog in permits being issued. Tim Wilson, the newly appointed manager of the Casper Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management, told the Natrona County commissioners that while drilling applications were dropping due to the downturn in the mineral industry, they still had a backlog in permits being issued. While drilling applications are slowing down, oil and gas projects are continuing to drive an increase in staff at the Bureau of Land Management’s Casper Field office, according to its newly appointed manager Tim Wilson.

In his first meeting with the Natrona County Commissioners, Wilson said his office is involved in three major oil and gas proposals, including the 4,250-well Moneta Divide Project in Natrona and Fremont counties, the 5,000-well Converse County project and the 1,500-well Greater Crossbow project in Converse and Campbell counties. “Obviously, we have a couple of big environmental impact statements we are working on for a couple of big oil and gas projects,” Wilson said. “It seems like every time I turn around there’s another one that they’re saying, ‘Oh yeah, you have a part in this one, too.’ So definitely some challenges, but I’m looking forward to it.” Working on backlog The number of applications to drill for the Casper office jumped with the shale gas boom, and the office has had a backlog of several hundred permits running for some time. Wilson said he hopes the staffing shortage will be resolved by summer. “We are down several positions, and that has affected our ability to process APDs and take care of our oil and gas customers,” Wilson told the commission. “I hope within the next — six months seems like a long way off, but in the federal system it takes a long time to get through the staffing process — and so certainly by summer I hope to be fully staffed again.” Industry downturn Wilson was asked about the effects of the downturn in the industry.

“Since the commodity prices have dropped, are you seeing less people applying for drilling permits?” asked Commissioner Matt Keating. “It is down, and while it’s not good for industry and the economy, it is a good opportunity for us to do some catch-up work,” Wilson said. “That’s the main reason we’re bringing people in from other field offices around the state to help us work on that backlog of permits that we have.” Wilson said most of the permit activity continues to be in Converse County, but that could also slow down, particularly if the large projects cut back. “We met with what we call the operators group of the six companies yesterday that’s doing the Converse County project, and they certainly said that if things stay down that will impact their project,” Wilson said. “Where we are talking about 5,000 wells now, they might be looking at something less if it stays down for a long period, and that is certainly to be expected, so …” Moneta Divide Meanwhile, Moneta Divide recently changed hands from Encana Oil and Gas to Aethon Energy, and Wilson said the Lander BLM Field Office had not yet briefed him, which is the lead agency on the Environmental Impact Statement. Commissioner Rob Hendry, who is doing work for Aethon and owns some mineral rights in the area as well, spoke about the progress.

“You know they want to go forward on the EIS, that’s the last thing I heard,” Hendry said. “But as far as drilling or anything, I haven’t heard anything about drilling — possibly next spring maybe drill due on a multi-pad, and that sounded like it might even be in Natrona County, just barely. But you know a lot of things can happen between now and February or March.

But I know they we’re going to do some work overs, and that’s about it. Just to let you know, I’m a dirt contractor, along with a rancher, so I’m the dirt contractor in that Moneta Divide area.” “Well, that certainly’s got some significance for you then,” Wilson commented. “Yeah, it does. I hope they get going.

It is pretty slow right now,” said Hendry. “Well, we’re doing everything we can to get that process through, and that’s being led out of the Lander Field Office, but we have staff working on it,” said Wilson.

Oil and gas lease sale Wilson was also asked about a pending 22,000-acre oil and gas lease sale in Cole Creek Road area adjacent to Casper and Evansville. “As far as I know we are still on track,” Wilson said. “They’re obviously, you know, around other parts of the country, they have postponed some sales, but for now, we are still on.” Natrona County has a number of designated critical habitat areas for sage grouse, which has impacted some oil and gas development in the county and raised issues on the commission. Keating questioned Wilson on sage grouse numbers, noting the state still allows hunting in some areas.

“In my opinion, if they’re shooting in excess of 10,000 of them a year (hunting quota) — I am not saying that is inappropriate at all — but I’m saying that maybe a more tangible and real impact to the sage grouse population versus an implied potential impact of guys … just trying to make a living out there, being good stewards I believe, right? Which is very important, but where is the actual impact?” Keating asked “The only thing I can say — and this may be the same answer you’ve received in the past — is the BLM manages the habitat, not the bird,” Wilson said. “We have to defer to Game and Fish for that …” Wilson’s experience Meanwhile, Wilson also told the commission he was the associate field manager in the Little Snake Field Office in Craig, Colorado, before taking the Casper position. “I was down there for four years, worked under a very good field manager there, and she gave me a lot of insight that I hope to bring to the table here. That was my first federal assignment, my first BLM assignment,” Wilson said. “Prior to that, I spent 20 years in the State of Kansas working in their coal program, doing both coal permitting an abandoned mine land reclamation. Going back before that, I was in private industry for a number of years doing geophysical work, wire line work in the oil patch, and uranium, and coal, and geo-tech.” There was a problem saving your notification.

Whenever Ashley Bebensee posts new content, you’ll get an email delivered to your inbox with a link. Email notifications are only sent once a day, and only if there are new matching items.