Oil prices have plunged amid the spread of COVID-19 and a global price war. Several major oil and gas companies have trimmed their workforces, reeled in expenses and halted production.
The rig count in Wyoming — a prime indicator of how much drilling activity is occurring — fell from 30 rigs in March to one lonely natural gas rig, as of Friday.
For every rig lost, approximately 100 oil and gas jobs are also lost, according to the Petroleum Association of Wyoming. Though prices have rallied in recent weeks, inching just over $40 a barrel, a full recovery for Wyoming’s producers appears far off. West Texas Intermediate, a U.S. benchmark for oil, was at $40.95 a barrel Tuesday, leaving several Wyoming operators unable to break even when drilling.
“The public is out there saying, ‘Wow, you’re giving tax breaks,'” said Rep. Dan Furphy, R-Laramie, in defense of the draft bill. “What we’re trying to do is stimulate the economy and create jobs.”
The committee voted to advance the bill 10-2, with Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, and Rep. Tom Crank, R-Sweetwater, opposing.
Rob Godby, University of Wyoming economist and associate dean of the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources, said he understood both sides.