Wyoming will use federal coronavirus relief funding to help petroleum companies move ahead with oil and gas drilling projects stalled by the pandemic and plug idle wells.
North Dakota already is using Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding for well plugging and cleanup.
Together, the two major oil-producing states will spend as much as $81 million in CARES Act funding to help the struggling oil and gas industry. Proponents point out the pandemic has reduced travel, lowering demand for gasoline and jet fuel. $15 million of that will go to Wyoming and will be available to operators. The program aims to pump resources into well cleanup and finishing uncompleted oil and gas wells. Individual Wyoming operators will be eligible for up to $500,000 in aid.
Uncompleted wells have a well bore drilled, but oil and gas have yet to be extracted. To complete the well, operators engage in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
The Petroleum Association of Wyoming also praised the economic stimulus program.
“The Energy Rebound Program is very welcome news to our members and the industry as a whole,” Pete Obermueller, president of the association, said in a statement. “This program means immediate jobs in Wyoming’s natural gas and oil industry during this challenging time. Governor Gordon and his staff should be applauded for their strategic approach. Rather than a simple payment, the Governor has ensured that every dollar spent in this program will create jobs, leverage revenue returns to the state, accelerate important reclamation activities, or all of the above.”