As operators search for oil in Wyoming’s shale formations, some state officials are concerned the state might not get its share of the value of natural gas that is burned off, or flared, from new wells.
After hearing of one particularly productive Niobrara Shale well due to be given permission by state regulators to flare gas, an official at the Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments wrote the head of the state’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and expressed his concern.
The owner of the well was asking permission to flare 850,000 cubic feet a day of gas for up to six months. At current prices, that would mean the state, which gets a cut of the value of gas taken from state resources, could stand to lose more than $104,000 in value from the flared gas over the six-month period.
That’s money for the state that just burns away into the sky — money that helps fund Wyoming schools. For officials charged with getting the most value from state lands and resources, the numbers raised some eyebrows.