Senate bill to increase oil and gas bond gains initial approval

By Gregory Nickerson
— February 20, 2014
A pumpjack in the Lander Field. (Michael C. Rygel photo via Wikimedia Commons — click to enlarge)

The Wyoming Senate has given initial approval to a bill to increase the bond required for oil and gas operators to gain entry to private land. Currently, developers must file a bond of $2,000 per well pad with the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to enter private property without the owner’s permission. Senate File 83, introduced by Sen. Jim Anderson (R-Glenrock), would increase the bond amount to $10,000.

Proponents of the bill said it is needed in order to provide greater protection to private landowners in split-estate situations — where one person owns the surface estate but doesn’t own the mineral estate below. In some cases, developers prefer paying the $2,000 bond rather than negotiate a land use agreement with the surface owner. Sen. John Schiffer (R-Kaycee) said the higher bond would create a motivation for operators to negotiate with the landowner rather than opt to pay the bond.

Opponents said the bill increased the bond too much, and would create a burden for small operators. An amendment sponsored by Sen. Stan Cooper (R-Kemmerer) would increase the bond to $6,000 rather than $10,000.  The amendment failed with 10 votes in favor and 19 opposed.  

The bill then passed it’s first reading of the Senate. The measure must survive two more votes in the Senate before going to the House. 

(For background, read this update on the oil and gas bonding issue from February 12.)

— Gregory Nickerson is the government and policy reporter for WyoFile. He writes the Capitol Beat blog. Contact him at greg@wyofile.com.

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Gregory Nickerson

Gregory Nickerson worked as government and policy reporter for WyoFile from 2012-2015. He studied history at the University of Wyoming. Follow Greg on Twitter at @GregNickersonWY and on www.facebook.com/GregoryNickersonWriter/

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