At least 18 drill rigs were active in the second week of October, 17 more than the same week in 2020.
Wyoming’s oil and gas industry continues to show signs of recovery from the 2020 pandemic shockwave that drove the price of oil below $0 per barrel, spurred layoffs and stalled production.
At least 18 rotary rigs were active in the state during the second week of October compared to one rig during the same week in 2020, according to Enverus, which tracks rig data on a weekly basis. Wyoming saw a rig count of zero for the first time in its history in June 2020, then again in August 2020.
Most of the drilling activity is targeting oil in the southern Powder River Basin. Ten rotary rigs were active in Converse County during the second week of October and four in Campbell County.
The natural resources and mining sector added 300 jobs from July 2020 to July 2021 to stand at 15,200, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Research & Planning. The unemployment rate for Wyoming’s natural resource and mining sector held at 4.6% in July, a rate that’s generally been steady since July 2020.
Counties where oil and gas and mining activity are concentrated were among the hardest-hit by unemployment during the 2020 pandemic shutdown. That trend still applies.
Sweetwater and Natrona counties both saw 5.8% unemployment in July — the highest in the state — while Campbell County came in at 5.5%, Sublette County at 5.2% and Converse County at 5.0%, according to Workforce Services.
In addition to direct federal COVID-19 stimulus benefits, oil and gas operators in Wyoming received a total $42 million CARES Act funding stimulus from Gov. Mark Gordon’s Energy Rebound Program.
“There’s a sense of cautious optimism,” Paul Ulrich of Jonah Energy said. “We’ve clearly seen activity pick up. We’ve seen much stronger prices than we have in the natural gas world than we have for years and years.”