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Wyoming allocates funds to oil, gas operators amid pandemic

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon speaks at press conference. September 3, 2020.
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon speaks at press conference. September 3, 2020.(KGWN)
Published: Dec. 1, 2020 at 12:00 PM CST
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CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — An oil and gas stimulus program in Wyoming has shown promising initial results in helping operators recover from the economic downturn caused in part by the pandemic, officials said.

Gov. Mark Gordon created the Wyoming Energy Rebound Program to give companies money needed to complete specific projects placed on hold because of the pandemic, including plugging and abandoning wells, and drilling uncompleted wells, The Casper Star-Tribune reported.

The Republican governor announced earlier this month that he would dedicate $15 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to create the program. He later doubled the amount to $30 million in response to high demand.

“The results of this program show the willingness of the oil and gas industry to put people to work in Wyoming, once they get some capital to get them going,” Wyoming Business Council CEO Josh Dorrell said.

The Wyoming Business Council said the program would cover the expenses of 292 oil and gas projects and would create about 5,500 jobs over the next year in the state. The program will fund 18 drilled but uncompleted wells, 131 re-completions and the plugging and abandonment of 143 wells.

Uncompleted wells have yet to have oil and natural gas extracted from them. Re-completing takes place when a well has been drilled and completed, but some oil can still be extracted using other recovery methods.

“This is a great and appropriate use of CARES Act money to respond to the devastating effects of the pandemic on our economy,” Randall Luthi, chief energy advisor to Gordon, said in a statement. “The oil and gas operators responded quickly and they need to act quickly in the near future.”

The funding will need to be used by the end of the year to cover the goods and services related to the projects, officials said. Approved projects can start immediately.

Studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick. For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.