Here is PAW’s 2023 Annual Report. As a staff we strive every day to represent all of you – the hard working men and women of Wyoming’s oil and natural gas industry. Below you will find highlights about the work we have done over the last year to advance Wyoming’s primary economic driver. We had some big wins this year including the the Rocky Mountain Power Rate Case before the Wyoming Public Service Commission and two victories in Federal District Court. Check out those and more below, but before moving on, one of the things I’m most proud of is our work highlighting specific Wyoming Basins. If you haven’t seen it, check out this video Ryan shepherded from the Green River Basin.
In 2024, we will celebrate 50 years of PAW as an organization (and more than 100 years of industry advocacy). Since 1974, PAW has been a constant advocate for oil and natural gas production, PAW members and for the people of Wyoming. The last several years have been a whirlwind of ups and down for the industry but we believe Wyoming’s industry is as strong as ever and we will continue to advance the cause.
Thanks to strong participation in PAW events we saw record attendance at the Rockies Petroleum Conference, Wildlife and Reclamation Conference and Holiday Reception. We held our first ever Oil and Gas Day in Casper to educate local elected officials and had excellent turnout from Natrona and Converse Counties. Look out for more of these events across the state in 2024.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions about what we are working on or if you would like to become more involved.
The Petroleum Association of Wyoming is the voice of the oil and gas industry, including oil and gas production companies, midstream processing, pipeline transportation, oilfield service companies, and affiliated companies offering essential work such as legal services, accounting, consulting and more.
The Petroleum Association of Wyoming is the voice of the oil and gas industry: Wyoming’s primary economic engine.
The Petroleum Association of Wyoming represents the diverse people, companies and interests of Wyoming’s oil and gas industry with passion, integrity and professionalism. We provide a forum for education, interaction, and unified action for members, policymakers, and the public.
In all our endeavors, PAW:
- Promotes pro-growth policies for the oil and gas industry
- Supports sustainable production of Wyoming’s abundant resources
- Fosters mutually beneficial relationships with Wyoming’s landowners, businesses, and communities
- Upholds the values of science-based, environmental stewardship
PAW is dedicated to Wyoming’s success, and to limitless economic opportunity for her people.
Rocky Mountain Power Rate Case
One of the biggest threats to Wyoming’s oil and natural gas industry this year was Rocky Mountain Power’s (RMP) rate increase request before the Wyoming Public Service Commission (PSC). RMP had requested at 21.9% increase in its base rate for electricity and an additional 7.6% in true-up increase to cover net power costs. Given that electricity costs are the second largest cost for many PAW members after labor costs, the Association took strong action before the PSC. PAW worked with the Wyoming Industrial Energy Consumers who were official intervenors in the case, organized PAW members to comment during public comment sections each day of the trial and ran aggressive print and social media ads in RMP’s territory encouraging members to the public to participate as well. Print ads ran in the Casper Star Tribune, Riverton Ranger, Cody Enterprise and Rock Springs Rocket Miner. Social media ads saw 44,502 impressions, reach of 11,624 and generated 336 reactions and 150 comments.
In the end, the PSC only awarded RMP an 8.3% base rate increase and required, through settlement, a six month 2.8% rate reduction for net power costs due to $9 million in overpayments by Wyoming consumers.
Federal District Court Wins for Wyoming Oil & Gas
PAW intervened in two U.S. District Court Cases on behalf of members that would have had drastic consequences for the industry in Wyoming. In both cases, industry saw wins before the Honorable U.S. District Court Judge Tanya
In Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians v. Department of Interior, Debra Haaland, Bureau of Land Management, Tracy Stone-Manning, Judge Chutkan dismiss the case for lack of standing by the plaintiffs. She rule that the environmental activist groups that filed the suit failed to establish any specific harm from issuance of individual permits.
Had the case been upheld approximately 900 Applications for Permit to Drill (APDs) issued since 2021 would have been vacated (plus more in New Mexico), dealing significant harm to Wyoming’s oil and natural gas industry. Additionally, the plaintiffs sought to enjoin any new permits pending the outcome of the case.
In Powder River Basin Resource Council v. Department of Interior, PAW, acting as a defendant-intervenor, along with several member companies and the State of Wyoming, welcomed another positive decision from Judge Chutkan to dismiss PRBRC’s challenge to Applications for Permit to Drill (APD) in the Converse County EIS (CCEIS) project area and preliminary injunction for the entire CCEIS.
In regard to the APD challenge, Judge Chutkan’s ruling found that “[a]lthough Plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction and supporting exhibits total more than 5,000 pages, they have not specified any particular APD or any surrounding area affected by any pollutants traceable to any particular APD (air, noise, water, visual etc.). Nor have Plaintiffs specified that any of their members use (recreate, live in, travel through, visit) any such area.”
Further, Judge Chutkan took the plaintiffs to task for waiting nearly two years to file their case when dismissing their motion for a preliminary injunction. “Plaintiffs waited nearly 21 months after Defendants issued the Converse County Record of Decision to bring this suit. At oral argument, Plaintiffs admitted that they knew that Defendants had issued the Record of Decision, and that they had commented on the final EIS as well as many of the subsequently approved APDs. But they claimed that they lacked the financial and human capital—apparently for nearly two years—to initiate this suit. Even after they filed suit, however, Plaintiffs waited more than six months to move for a preliminary injunction, see ECF No. 64, and subsequently sought an eleven-day extension to file their reply due to a conflict with their counsel’s planned two-week leave.[…] ‘These unexplained delays in seeking emergency relief undermine their contention that they will be irreparably harmed absent an injunction.’”
PAW Launches Wyoming Carbon Innovation Network
Co-Chaired by Erik Holt, General Counsel and VP Land of Frontier Carbon Solutions, LLC and Julie Martinez, President of Oil Mountain Energy, the Petroleum Association of Wyoming (PAW) has launched the Wyoming Carbon Innovation Network (Network) to support the development and growth of the carbon management industry in Wyoming, while ensuring the existing oil and natural gas industry continues to flourish.
Recent analysis indicates that Wyoming’s oil and natural gas industry employs over 19,000 people and brings over $8 billion in economic activity to our state. Carbon management is an emerging component of Wyoming’s critical energy industries, and the Network will focus on strategic goals intended to bring new jobs and new economic opportunities to Wyoming’s already strong energy industries.
The Network will focus on the four strategic goals seen in the graphics to the left.
On January 24th, PAW hosted its Legislative Reception at Little American Resort during the 2023 General Session of the Wyoming Legislature. There was a great turnout from PAW members, allies and legislators as well as the Secretary of State and Superintendent of Public Instruction.
PAW held a Spring Social & WOGCC Staff Appreciation Happy Hour on Monday, April 10th in partnership with Primary Fuels and Wyoming Association of Professional Landmen at Gruner Brothers Brewing in Casper.
The 2023 Rockies Petroleum Conference was held August 23-25th on the University of Wyoming Campus in Laramie. This year’s conference saw record attendance, a sold out PAWPAC Golf Tournament and educational tours of the School of Energy Resources. The 2024 RPC will be back on the UWYO Campus August 21-23.
PAW staff held the first ever Oil & Gas Day for local elected officials from Natrona and Converse Counties on December 5th. We held breakfast and lunch sessions that attracted approximately 50 local officials including county commissioners, county clerks, legislators, city council members and others to learn about the status of the industry in Wyoming.
PAW once again hosted its Holiday Reception in partnership with API – Central Wyoming Chapter at Occasions by Cory in Casper on December 5th. This was the third annual reception and attendance continues to grow. This year donations were solicited to benefit Food Bank of Wyoming.
The 2023 Wildlife and Reclamation Conference was held at the Best Western Downtown in Casper on December 6th. This year’s conference had record attendance from across the state and as far away as Minnesota. Attendees heard from leaders in the wildlife and reclamation sciences at one of the few opportunities in the country to continue their education in these areas.
The 2023 General Session lasted from January 10th to March 3rd this year and was dominated often by the widely reported split between the so-called “Freedom Caucus” and the so-called “Wyoming Caucus” with vote tallies often splitting along caucus lines. The best example of the split was found in the debates surrounding property tax relief for residential homeowners. There were multiple bills introduced ranging from complicated constitutional amendments to straightforward reductions of the property tax rate. Only one bill passed, HB99-Property Tax Refund Program, which is a means tested and limited refund of property taxes paid. The fault lines of the debate split those who wanted targeted, limited relief and those who wanted structural reforms. You can find PAW’s positions on relevant bills here.
PAW staff and members worked hard to advance industry causes and ideas. To see examples, take a look at the presentation Pete, Colin and PAW Board Member Tom Van Kleef gave to the Wyoming House Minerals Committee below and Pete’s testimony on ESG bills here.
Specifically to oil and gas, much more took place during the interim session. The Select Committee on Capital Financing and Investments took up ESG-related policies as an interim topic after several related bills failed during the session, resulting in a more specific drafted policy by Wyoming’s Treasurer that protects Wyoming’s mineral investments from proxy votes intended to end the use of oil and gas.
Meanwhile, the Joint Minerals Committee spent a great deal of time on carbon capture, utilization and sequestration in the interim given that Wyoming is well suited to see major investments in this area, including from numerous PAW members. In an effort to assist in these efforts, PAW has created the Wyoming Carbon Innovation Network. You can read more about the Network and its efforts here. The committee has advanced a bill that clarifies the responsibilities of Wyoming agencies on carbon storage efforts, and looked at a proposal to equalize the 45Q tax credit so that EOR projects are not discouraged.
Finally, The Joint Revenue Committee took a hard look at the taxation of energy and electricity and the support structures around those. Wyoming’s tax structure remains a difficult problem given that most of the Wyoming electorate has grown accustomed to oil and gas paying the majority of the bills.
At the federal level, PAW President Pete Obermueller had the opportunity to testify before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee at a hearing entitled “Full Committee Hearing to Examine Opportunities for Congress to Reform the Process for Permitting Electric Transmission Lines, Pipelines, and Energy Production on Federal Lands“. In his message, Pete stated that the availability of affordable energy has done so much to advance human flourishing, and that Wyoming has played a role in that advancement. You can watch Pete’s oral testimony below starting at the 1 hour 47 minute mark and read his full remarks here.
Regulatory Affairs Update
2023 was inundated with public lands issues.
The Bureau of Land Management has been busy. Proposals to put conservation on par with other uses in FLPMA, reconfiguring how the oil and gas leasing program will function, and an unfortunate selection of a preferred alternative in Rock Springs have all kept PAW staff, members, local government officials and community members on their toes. These are all items PAW engaged in to influence how oil and gas will operate on public lands going forward.
In addition, PAW has been active at every stage of the BLM’s oil and gas lease sales. The BLM has incorporated new criteria against which proposed leases are gauged to be made available or not. PAW has fought to keep opportunities available. We are always looking for ways to leverage our position, including Colin’s appointment to the Wyoming BLM Resource Advisory Council and our work to have agreements in place with the BLM which would allow PAW to bolster their internal resources, if needed.
On the state-side, Wyoming initiated a process to review and revise its Greater Sage-Grouse core area map. While we didn’t win every battle, PAW moved the marker significantly to protect our collective interest. Currently, the state is considering designation of an ungulate migration corridor in Western Wyoming. PAW is similarly involved in that process, working with the same goal in mind.
The regulatory front, while impeded with less volume, was no less adventurous this year. It started with reviewing the EPA’s latest iteration of proposed standards for methane emissions from new and existing sources, and ended with a final rule. While PAW commented and joined a coalition of numerous other trades to provide the EPA in-depth responses, we are also working to identify ways we can lessen the impact of any future regulatory framework.
We thank those members who contributed to our regulatory efforts throughout this year. While there were far too many issues to name each in in detail, our discussions of these topics through the Public Lands Committee, Regulatory Affairs Committee, and ad hoc committees on specific issues, ensured PAW put forward our best strategies and arguments.
On a final note, we were incredibly pleased with the lineup and turnout for the 2023 Wildlife & Reclamation Conference. It was an engaging day with an incredible amount of good, relevant and new information. We had attendees from as far away as Minnesota who came to further their careers in wildlife and reclamation sciences.
For 2023, PAW received 93 unique stories in state, regional and national media – an average of 7.75 per month. The three year rolling average is 9.9 stories per month. The lower average for 2023 can be mostly attributed to nearly six months without an energy and natural resources reporter at the Casper Star Tribune and the fact that Cowboy State Daily’s energy reporter left in the fall of 2023. The Casper Star has hired a new energy reporter and Ryan is actively working with him to include industry perspective in his pieces and help him understand the industry as a whole.
Joint Trades Work
PAW continues to be heavily involved with the Joint Trades group that meets in person twice a year and monthly via Microsoft Teams. Ryan was named to the steering committee this year. At the Fall 2022 Summit in Oklahoma City, he presented as part of the State Priorities 2023 Panel and presented as part of a panel entitled Curating Rapid Response Strategies at the Fall 2023 Summit in Denver. Ryan is also active in the Joint Trades Social Media Advocacy Huddle.
Ryan took over social media management from GroundFloor Media this Spring in order to maximize the communications budget.
- LinkedIn continues to be a strong growth area for PAW’s social media with a 30% increase in unique visitors over the last 30 days
- PAW’s LinkedIn page saw an increase in new followers of 486 over the last year
- X (formerly Twitter) impressions were at 920 over Q4 of 2023
- Facebook reach was up 1.1k% and Facebook visits were up 176.8% in Q4 of 2023
- Instagram reach was up 75% in Q4 of 2023
- Total social media presence across all platforms is 7,080
Releases and Joint Letters
PAW issued three press releases and three joint letters over the previous year including a joint release with the Western Energy Alliance about the Administration’s failure to hold quarterly lease sales, a joint release with API to announce research results into the industry’s economic impact on Wyoming and a statement with the Producers Alliance in opposition to the new EPA Methane Rule. All releases can be found at here.
Powering Wyoming’s Potential
Ryan spent four days in Sublette and Sweetwater Counties in June with GroundFloor Media to film the second set of videos for the Basin-specific communications project. The long-form video can be seen above in Pete’s welcome and short form videos for social media on topics like community impact, wildlife, and economic impact that will be used for a coordinated social media campaign are ready to launch as soon as the web page for the Green River Basin is complete. Our ultimate goal is to have a database of supporters in each basin that can be contacted for grassroots efforts as well as educate Wyomingites on basin-specific issues in their area.
2023 Facts and Figures
The 2023 Facts and Figures page on the PAW website has been updated and expanded. New information on refineries and pipelines has been added to accompany the economic, tax and production numbers that had previously been available. Check it out here.
The Petroleum Association of Wyoming is governed by a dedicated Board of Directors representing a variety of independent producers, processing and transporting companies, land representatives and other organizations that work within and alongside the oil and gas industry. The Board of Directors guides the staff, establishes Association policy, and provides information on important issues affecting the industry. Members attending the 2023 Rockies Petroleum Conference and PAW Annual Meeting voted in new board members and elected a new slate of officers.
Chairman – Spencer Kimball, EOG Resources
Vice Chairman – Shelley Shelby, Continental Resources
Secretary-Treasurer – Peter Wold, Wold Oil Company
A full list of board members and the management committee can be found here.
PAW maintains a full-time professional staff dedicated to advancing the industry through monitoring and influencing regulatory actions, representing member’s interests at legislative sessions and committee meetings at the state and federal levels, and shaping conversations around the industry with various audiences including the general public, media and policy makers.