No end in sight for gas crisis


CHEYENNE – As families are heading out on summer vacations, gasoline in Wyoming, a once oil independent state, hit an all time record high according to the Rocky Mountain Regional office of the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) weekly report Monday – however, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon has a plan.

In a press release late Wednesday, Gordon announced his plan to develop solutions regarding the gas crisis by introducing the formation of a Gas and Diesel Price Working group aimed at helping Wyomingites find relief from high gas prices.

The group includes members of the governor’s cabinet, representatives of transportation organizations, agricultural sectors, private citizens and legislators.

“Fuel prices have hit yet another high this past week, driving inflation affecting our seniors, veterans and all Wyoming citizens,” Gordon wrote. “Yet, all we hear out of Washington, D.C. is that it’s someone else’s fault, and there’s no end in sight. Here in Wyoming we need to look for any possible way we can provide some relief for our citizens.” Alluding to what other states have and are doing to help.

Gordon continued, “I’m committed to considering any and all possible ways, including tax reductions, to provide some quick relief for consumers.”

“It is no secret that the Biden Administration’s failed economic policies have directly contributed to inflation,” Gordon added. “Americans are experiencing the direct consequences of President Biden’s bungled energy policy – from the President’s 2020 Executive Order banning oil and gas leasing on federal lands, to its dogmatic insistence on regulation over innovation to address the issues we face today. Americans are hurting and need some relief.”

In a similar move last month, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a tax package called the “10 tax holidays” to help Floridians experiencing sticker shock at the gas pumps in an extensive tax relief bill covering essential items like gasoline, diapers, children’s clothing, disaster preparation items, and home energy to name a few. The 10 “tax holidays” range from seven days to two years. The one month Fuel Tax Holiday starts on Oct. 1 and will last through the end of Halloween night. For more information on this sweeping legislation visit, www.flgov.com.

Wyomingites are shoveling out $4.405 per gallon of gasoline for regular unleaded. Prior to 2022, the highest Wyomingites paid for regular unleaded gasoline was $3.972 in August 2008.

According to the EIA, prior to 2022, regular unleaded gas prices for the 15-year high was $3.972 in 2008; the 10-year high was $3.829 in April 2012; and the five-year high was $3.771 in August 2021.

According to the EIA, prior to 2022, regular unleaded gas prices for the 15-year low was $1.623 in January 2009; the 10-year low was $1.806 in February 2016; and the five-year low was $1.936 in May 2020.

Regular unleaded gas prices remained under $2.500 per gallon until March 2021 when it jumped from $2.466 in February to $2.906 in March. Gas prices first jumped over $3 in April 2020 at $3.074 per gallon of regular unleaded gasoline. Gas prices in Wyoming have not been under $3 dollars since.

The first time Wyoming recorded gas prices over $4 was March 2022, when prices jumped .72 cents to $4.171. The EIA reported gas prices in May averaged $4.405 per gallon of regular unleaded gasoline.

As of Monday, the EIA reported gas prices for regular unleaded for Wyomingites hit $4.821; diesel prices were reported at $5.591 per gallon.

For the month of May, the regional averages of regular unleaded gasoline per region were (in order from lowest to highest):

Gulf Coast: $4.22 per gallon;

Lower Atlantic: $4.36 per gallon;

Rocky Mountain (includes Wyoming): $4.45 per gallon;

Midwest: $4.46 per gallon;

New England: $4.72 per gallon;

Central Atlantic: $4.77 per gallon;

West Coast: $5.56 per gallon.

Monday’s EIA report started the weekly reporting of gas prices for June, those prices by region (in order from lowest to highest):

Gulf Coast: $4.55 per gallon, an increase of .332 cents per gallon;

Lower Atlantics: $4.566 per gallon, an increase of .205 cents per gallon;

Rocky Mountain (includes Wyoming): $4.711 per gallon, an increase of .263 per gallon;

Midwest: $4.815 per gallon, an increase of .358 cents per gallon;

Central Atlantic: $4.872 per gallon, an increase of .101 cents per gallon;

New England: $4.945 per gallon, an increase of .227 cents per gallon;

West Coast: $5.751 per gallon, an increase of .192 cents per gallon.

In a news release from the American Automobile Association (or AAA), a privately held not-for-profit national member and service organization that tracks and compares national gasoline prices to local prices, the price of gasoline rose by more than one dollar per gallon for all grades in Wyoming from this time last year. The national average as of Wednesday was $4.955 per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline and Wyoming’s average was $4.657 per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline.

AAA ranks the average price of regular unleaded gasoline in five categories, which change daily and/or weekly depending on the current prices of gasoline. As of Wednesday, those five categories for Wyoming were:

Dark Red: $5.148 to $4.805 per gallon of gas;

Light Red: $4.804 to $4.718 per gallon of gas;

White: $4.717 to $4.614 per gallon of gas;

Light Blue: $4.613 to $4.558 per gallon of gas;

Dark Blue: $4.557 to $4.428 per gallon of gas.

According to AAA, Goshen County is ranked in the middle (white) category with prices ranging from $4.717 to $4.614 per gallon of gas. Nearby counties like Laramie and Niobrara ranked in the second lowest (light blue) category while Platte County ranked in the second highest (light red) category. Converse and Albany counties were ranked in the lowest (dark blue) category and Crook County was ranked in the highest (dark red) category for gas prices. 

Statewide, AAA ranked Wyoming average gas prices by grade as of Wednesday:

Regular: $4.657 – up .057 cents from Tuesday, up .282 cents from last week and up $1.554 from a year ago;

Mid-grade: $4.865 – up .059 cents from Tuesday, up .274 cents from last week and up $1.550 from a year ago;

Premium: $5.125 – up .041 cents from Tuesday, up .278 cents from last week and up $1.559 from a year ago;

Diesel: $5.577 – up .026 from Tuesday, up .106 from last week and up $2.208 from a year ago.

For more information and an interactive map updated daily by AAA visit, www.gasprices.aaa.com.

AAA does not track alternative fuels like E85, E10 or E15 available at select flex fuel partnered gas stations. The U.S. Department of Energy and Renewable Energy (ERE) monitors flex fuel grades, which refers to high-level ethanol-gasoline blends which depend on geographic location and season. For more information regarding flex fuels, gas station locations and to determine if a vehicle is able to take alternative fuels visit, www.afdc.energy.gov. Currently only a handful of gas stations in Wyoming offer E85, nearest to Goshen County is in Cheyenne or Scottsbluff, Neb.

E85: $2.99, unchanged in three weeks due to current price cap on E85;

E15 (or E10): $4.17, which is used sometimes in school buses, off-road vehicles, boats, snowmobiles, snowplows and heavy-duty engines like delivery trucks is not currently capped and not offered in Wyoming at this time.

Wyoming had been oil independent since before statehood, when in 1832 fur trader Capt. B.L.E. Bonneville traveled to the Wind River Valley where he found oil springs southeast of what is known as Lander today, and near the Dallas Dome – the site of where Wyoming’s oil production began booming, and continues through today.

Upon becoming a state in July 1890, Wyoming began working toward protecting its oil industry that would later serve much of the Northern United States (states like Texas and Oklahoma serve much of the Southern U.S.). As more American territories in the south and west became states, former Wyoming Governor B.B. Brooks called for an oil convention in 1910 to “protect the state’s oil industry”.

In 1921, Brooks, no longer governor, formed the Rocky Mountain Oil and Gas Association (RMOGA) and held the first meeting in Casper. He was elected as the association’s first president. The organization worked with neighboring states and later established offices in: Casper, Wyo.; Denver, Colo.; Boise, ID; Billings, Mont.; Bismarck, N.D.; and Salt Lake City, UT. Eventually offices in Nebraska and South Dakota were established. However, states like Colorado left the association.

Over 50 years later, in 1974 at the Casper office, RMOGA met with competing association The Wyoming Oil Industry Committee (WOIC) where the two nonprofits decided to merge as the Petroleum Association of Wyoming (PAW) and issued this statement in a joint press release, “(RMOGA and WOIC) joined in an effort to establish a more effective vehicle to speak for the industry in Wyoming.” Today, PAW is the largest and oldest oil and gas trade organization in the state.

Since 1883, oil production had become Wyoming’s primary economic engine, until an executive order from President Joseph Biden on Jan. 27, 2021, which ordered a pause to oil and gas leasing on federal lands in Wyoming. This executive order coincided with the postponement announced by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) auction of 383 parcels covering nearly a half a million acres on Jan. 29, 2021.

Previously, former President Donald Trump had allocated more oil and gas leases than ever before in state history to be sold between 2015 and 2020 in Wyoming. Biden’s order for environmental review effectively stopped more than 2,000 oil lease sales slated for Wyoming and placed nearly all Wyoming leases in review.

“The leasing pause will enable a review that’s part of an all-government fight against ‘a profound climate crisis’ exacerbated by the burning of fossil fuels,” Biden’s Jan. 27, 2021 order stated.

Ultimately, in agreement with the Biden Administration, BLM offered Wyoming 455 parcels spanning nearly 531 thousand acres for 2022. For more visit, www.blm.gov. Information for future lease options was not available Wednesday before publication.

Wyoming BLM and PAW provided the following information:

During 2019, 737 wells were drilled in 21 of Wyoming’s 23 counties;

Of the 737 wells drilled, 97, or 13%, were dry hole;

Of the 737 wells drilled, 369, or 50%, found oil;

Of the 737 wells drilled, 271, or 37% found gas;

Due COVID-19 closures, sales of crude oil production in Wyoming decreased by nearly 13% and sales of natural gas decreased by nearly 11% in 2020;

In 2019, Wyoming had 35 operating gas plants which processed nearly 97% of the state’s gas production;

Oil and gas productions accounts for 40% of the total Wyoming property taxes and 70% of mineral taxes which brings in more than $1.2 billion dollars annually;

Wyoming collects a royalty rate of approximately 16 2/3% on state leases and 12 1/2% on federal leases;

Wyoming ranks 8th in proved reserves of crude oil and 9th in natural gas proved reserves in 2021, the state ranked 7th and 8th respectively in 2020.

According to PAW and the Governor’s office, the roughly $1.23 billion dollar annual income generated by the oil and gas industry funds in 2020 paid for the following:

Wyoming general fund $339 million;

Wyoming permanent fund $76 million;

Wyoming K-12 public education $542 million;

University of Wyoming $15 million;

Wyoming community colleges $11 million;

Wyoming cities and towns $34 million;

Wyoming counties $85 million;

Wyoming infrastructure (including roads, road maintenance, etc) $120 million;

Oil and gas conservation commission $2 million. 

As noted from PAW, details, some data and statistics for 2020 and 2021 are delayed due to COVID-19 closures which has caused a delay in reporting.

In 2015, the oil and gas industry brought in $2.1 billion dollars to Wyoming and $1.67 billion in 2019.

In Goshen County, 12.01% of oil or gas properties were assessed for taxation by the county for the 2020 fiscal year. A report from Wyoming legislators in 2021, following Biden’s halt, anticipated a $304 million dollar annual tax revenue loss for 2022. Critics of that report say it could be much less. For more information visit, www.pawyo.org. 

For more data and 2021 updates visit PAW at www.pawyo.org.

Wyoming’s first refinery was constructed in 1895 in Casper and today there are four operating refineries with the capacity to refine roughly 125,850 barrels of crude oil daily; previously the state could produce 168,500 barrels with five refineries in operation. In 2016, Wyoming had six refineries processing 181,300 barrels of crude oil daily.

The EIA listed the Cheyenne HollyFrontier Refinery as idle in 2020, and permanently shut down the refinery in 2021 along with five other refineries nationwide. The Cheyenne refinery had the capacity to refine 48,000 barrels of crude oil daily, the five shuddered refiners saw a reduction of 801,146 in daily crude oil processing capacity. HollyFrontier Corporation laid off roughly 200 employees when it transitioned into a renewable energy diesel fuel refinery.
The EIA states two reasons for these closures, the first, “largely reflect the impact of responses to COVID-19 on the U.S. refining sector.”

The second reason the EIA gave was the “increasing market interest in renewable diesel production and pre-existing plans to scale down or reconfigure petroleum refineries all contributed to the closing of a handful of refineries in 2020.”

The price of American crude oil hit $107.12 per barrel in March, official prices for April and May were not available in the EIA’s June 1 report; the next official report is expected July 1.

In 2007, the height of Wyoming’s oil and gas boom in the 2000s, petroleum companies employed 28,693 permanent Wyoming residents. In 2019, that number was reduced to 19,416: in 2022, an estimated 8,200 permanent residents are employed, which is up from the pandemic lows in 2021 of 7,300.

The EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook report (or STEO) released June 7, depicts a very bleak gas price and shortage picture for Wyoming and the nation. 

“The June STEO is subject to heightened levels of uncertainty resulting from a variety of factors, including Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine,” the report detailed.

The report also stated that preliminary findings reported that prices averaged $113 dollars per barrel in May and expect that prices will average $108 dollars per barrel in the second half of 2022 and won’t fall to under $100 dollars per barrel until 2023, anticipating barrel prices to be $97 dollars at the start of 2023.

“Actual price outcomes will largely depend on the degree to which existing sanctions imposed on Russia, any potential future sanctions, and independent corporate actions affect Russia’s oil production or the sale of Russia’s oil in the global market,” the STEO report noted. These anticipated prices are despite the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (or OPEC) announcing an upward adjustment of production targets in July and August.

The report also detailed that the EIA anticipates the wholesale margin to drop from $1.17 per gallon of gas to just .81 cents starting in July which could reduce the cost at the pumps by roughly .27 cents per gallon. For more information on the STEO report visit, www.eia.gov.

According to the Wyoming Energy Authority, the state is a major thoroughfare with its pipeline transportation system bringing American and Canadian crude oil to the Rocky Mountain and Midwest regions. The first Wyoming pipeline was constructed in 1911 and the state has approximately 30,000 miles of pipelines operated by about 100 companies which run through all 23 counties. These pipelines carry crude, natural gas, natural gas liquids, carbon dioxide and petroleum products. Wyoming remains the number one coal producing state. For more information visit, www.wyoenergy.org. 

Initially, industry experts didn’t believe pipeline temporary or permanent closures would impact Wyoming gas prices. However, an executive order from the Biden Administration in January 2021 to end construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would have connected crude oil from Canada to Nebraska, with stops in Wyoming, to reach the Gulf shore and West Coast, impacted the price of gasoline for Wyomingites and the nation.

The closure resulted in 42,100 jobs lost and an estimated $2 billion dollar earnings slash in addition to the inability to transport crude oil safer, easier and faster across the nation. All components which affect barrel prices. Leading Wyoming to join 20 other states in a lawsuit against the Biden Administration. 

Although parts of Canada have now joined the lawsuit after a district court ruled that states like Texas could not take part in the lawsuit, the case is mostly dead but still on-going. An initial judicial opinion suggests that states still in the lawsuit had a slim chance of winning. One of the key remarks made by the Keystone XL Pipeline executives is the shutdown lends to overseas competitors taking advantage of America and leaves Americans reliant on foreign gas products.

For more information about Wyoming’s history in the gas and oil industry visit, www.wyohistory.org, www.pawyo.org. or www.eia.gov/state. For more general information and statistics on Wyoming’s oil and gas industry visit the Wyoming State Geological Survey site at www.wsgs.wyo.gov.

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