GILLETTE — Last week oil and natural gas producer WPX Energy surpassed the nine-year mark without a lost-time accident in the Powder River Basin. Wyoming’s workplace safety record for the oil and gas industry has been spotty at best in recent years, so the news is encouraging.
WPX was formerly known as Williams Production. At year-end 2011, Williams spun off its exploration and production business. That move created WPX, which employs 95 people in Wyoming.
Over the past nine years, WPX employees around Gillette have worked 2.1 million hours and driven 16.2 million miles without incurring a work-related injury that causes an employee to miss work. A lost-time accident, or LTA, is a specific reportable incident whose standards and criteria are set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
“This is an outstanding accomplishment shared by the hard work of each of our team members in the Powder River Basin,” said Bryan Guderian, senior vice president of operations.
“Sustaining this type of record over such a long time can be challenging within the industry when you consider the risk factors that we manage.”
WPX’s office at 300 N. Works Ave. in Gillette is the company’s fourth largest in terms of employment. Its local payroll last year was $8 million. Nationwide, WPX employs more than 1,200 people. The Gillette office oversees about 3,000 natural gas wells across 411,000 net acres in Campbell and Johnson counties. Last year, WPX invested $57 million in Wyoming to drill and complete new gas wells.
In 2011, the company produced an average of 227 million cubic feet of natural gas per day in the Powder River Basin, which is the equivalent of enough fuel to meet the daily energy needs of about one million homes.
In Wyoming, WPX paid approximately $17 million in private royalties last year, along with another $26 million in royalties for its wells on state and federal lands in the Powder River Basin.