Oil and gas booms can seem remote — it’s not like they happen in your backyard.
Unless they do.
Take Laramie County, Wyo., where a surge in well permitting threatens to bring drilling closer to a large number of homes. Although Wyoming has a long history with oil and gas, it’s almost always been in rural areas. A boom in Laramie County would change that, though, and some say the state is ill-prepared to deal with the issues that arise when communities bump up against drilling.
In May of 2013, oil and gas companies applied for nine permits to drill in Laramie County. In May of 2014, companies applied for 132.
Oil and Gas Supervisor Mark Watson says the sudden flurry of activity can be attributed to a deep sandstone formation called the Codell. Watson says it’s not yet a boom, but that it could be.
“You know, the companies that are down there are serious about eventually drilling those wells. They just need to learn more about the formation,” he said.
Bloomberg News recently reported that even companies that are traditionally conservative in their assessments are saying the Rocky Mountain region has as much potential for oil and gas as the better-known Bakken in North Dakota or Eagle Ford in Texas. In Laramie County, those promising reserves happen to overlap with places where lots of people live.
“That’s getting to be a big issue. Colorado is already dealing with it, and now it’s probably going to be an issue in Laramie County because they’re drilling close to people’s houses,” Watson said.