Crews work on the deck of an oil drilling rig in Converse County on March, 24, 2022. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City News File)

CASPER, Wyo. — Wyoming had 16 active oil and gas drilling rigs as of Friday, April 8, up from 15 on April 1, according to rig counts from Baker Hughes.

In March 2022, the state averaged 12 active oil drilling rigs and three active conventional gas rigs compared with six oil rigs and one gas rig in March 2021, according to a new Wyoming Economic Analysis Division report released Monday. The report shows that Wyoming had 8,200 oil and gas jobs in February 2022, an increase of 900 compared with February 2021.

While rig counts and oil and gas jobs are up compared with a year ago, the oil and gas industry continues to lag behind where it was ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Economic Analysis Division said that the state had nearly 12,000 oil and gas jobs before the COVID-19 pandemic started impacting the economy.

“Relative to this time two years ago (February 2020), total employment has still not fully recovered from the pandemic, primarily due to slow recovery in the mining industry,” Wyoming Economic Analysis Division principal economist Dylan Bainer said.

The report released Monday shows that Wyoming oil and gas prices are above what the state’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Group (CREG) projected in its January 2022 report. CREG had estimated that crude oil would average $60/barrel in 2022. Wyoming sour crude oil prices averaged $92.18/barrel in March and Wyoming sweet crude oil averaged $103.92/barrel. If prices continue to stay above $60/barrel, the state government stands to see a significant tax revenue windfall compared with CREG’s initial projections for the year.

Bainer attributed the higher crude prices primarily to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that occurred in later February.

Sales and use tax collections were up $9.6 million in March 2022 compared with March 2021. Sales and use tax collections from the mining sector were up $2.4 million year-over-year.

“Compared to March 2020, collections from the mining sector are still down about 15%, but total collections are up almost 10%,” the Economic Analysis Division said. “This increase in total collections, despite the decline in the mining sector, is mostly due to large increases in the retail trade and leisure & hospitality sectors. However, a significant amount of the increase in collections in these industries can be attributed to inflation.”

Sales and use tax collections were up in 21 out of 23 counties compared with March 2021. Natrona County collections of 4% state sales and use taxes in March 2022 were up 2.4% year-over-year.

While oil and gas jobs still trail pre-pandemic numbers, February 2022 jobs in other sectors such as retail trade and professional and business services were above February 2020 numbers while construction and leisure and hospitality jobs have returned to approximately pre-pandemic levels, according to the Economic Analysis Division.

The state had a total of 285,700 jobs in February 2022, an increase of 3.9% compared with February 2021. The report shows that leisure and hospitality jobs were up 10.1% compared with February 2021 and construction industry jobs were up about 14.1%

Further information is available in the full March 2022 issue of “Wyoming Insight.”