CASPER, Wyo. — Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon’s office said on Tuesday, July 7 that Gordon and other officials who comprise the State Loan and Investment Board have unanimously voted to submit a bid to purchase land and minerals from Occidental Petroleum.
“The non-binding bid is only another step towards the purchase, and is not final,” Gordon’s office said. “The bid will now be submitted to Occidental Petroleum for the purchase of land and minerals, and may include the entirety of the land offered or a portion.”
WyoFile reported on July 1 that the state entered a $2.5 million contract with Barclays in April to help evaluate the purchase of the land and minerals. WyoFile also reported that the purchase could include “1 million surface acres and 4 million mineral acres” and that the price could potentially exceed $1 billion.
Article continues below...
Before the state could purchase the land, Gordon’s office says that additional public meetings would be required. They add that the goal of purchasing the land would be to add revenue for the state.
“The Board’s vote requires additional public meetings prior to final approval of any purchase, the highest possible return, and a report detailing non-confidential aspects of the transaction,” Gordon’s office said. “The non-binding bid authorized by the SLIB is confidential at this time to protect the integrity of the bid process and to allow the board to submit a bid.”
Gordon’s office add that the state must submit the bid to Occidental by Wednesday.
“This is a unique and substantial opportunity to invest in Wyoming-based revenue-generating assets,” Gordon said in the release. “We owed it to the people of Wyoming to properly evaluate its potential, listen to their concerns and weigh carefully whether this investment would benefit Wyoming’s portfolio. That is our fiduciary responsibility to our state– to make sure we get the highest rate of return for the citizens of Wyoming.”
Gordon’s office said that the SLIB members heard public comment on the proposal during a special meeting and also received input from financial experts. The members “emphasized that final approval would only come if there was agreement that the state was likely to see increased investment returns from the purchase.”
“As the Governor mentioned, our job is to maximize the return on our investments,” Treasurer Curt Meier said. “If we can negotiate a purchase price in line with the recommendations of the Investment Funds Committee and avoid an over-concentration of illiquidity, this opportunity could be a great addition to the State’s portfolio and benefit our citizens for decades.”
Gordon’s office says that the SLIB board intends to use funds generated by Wyoming’s Permenant Minerals Trust Fund investments for the purchase if Occidental accepts the state’s bid.
“Those funds are constitutionally tied up and the core of the funds is available for prudent investments only, as guided by state statute, and is not available to help offset the current budget shortfalls or to directly pay for the costs of running the State Government,” Gordon’s office said.