Oil and gas looks back at 2020

CHART: Timeline of Wyoming crude oil (black) and natural gas (red) production, 1950-2020. Source: Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and historic WSGS data.

WYOMING – The latest Oil and Natural Gas Resources of Wyoming report, published annually by the Wyoming State Geological Survey, outlines the significant events that occurred in Wyoming’s oil and natural gas industry during 2020.

“Every year the WSGS provides this geologically focused snapshot of Wyoming’s oil and gas industry,” says State Geologist and WSGS Director Dr. Erin Campbell. “Last year was an unprecedented year, yet there are notable similarities with past boom-and-bust cycles. This report frames 2020 within the context of these previous downturn-upswing cycles.”

At the beginning of 2020, oil production in Wyoming was poised for another record-breaking year and gas production was expected to continue its gradual decline. However, the COVID-19 pandemic compounded mounting regional, national and international imbalances between consumer demand and storage inventories.

Wyoming was not immune to these combined stressors that led to acute, but temporary, price and production slumps nationwide. Drilling in Wyoming also came to a complete standstill in June 2020 for the first time since 1884.

Despite a challenging year, there are reasons to be optimistic about Wyoming’s oil and gas industries. In addition to Wyoming’s extensive oil and gas reserves, prices are showing signs of recovering, preliminary data for the latter half of 2020 suggests production has stabilized at about 85 percent of pre-pandemic levels and drill rigs have once again started operating in the state.

Although Wyoming has weathered previous downturns in its oil and gas industry, recovery from this year’s events will be less dependent on new technology or discoveries and more contingent on national and global production decisions that rebalance supply and demand.

The 2020 summary report and other materials are available as free downloads at https://www.wsgs.wyo.gov/.