Requirement for Wyo. oil-gas leader could be eased

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Wyoming lawmakers will consider whether to loosen a job requirement for the state’s next oil and gas supervisor.

A bill to be introduced would eliminate the requirement that the supervisor be a licensed petroleum geologist or petroleum engineer. Under the bill, an unlicensed petroleum engineer or petroleum geologist could apply if he or she had at least 10 years of experience in their field of expertise.

The bill is sponsored by the Joint Business, Minerals and Economic Development Committee in hopes of encouraging more people to apply. The eight-week legislative session begins Tuesday.

The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission offered the job to a candidate in November, but the person turned it down. Since then, about half a dozen people have applied.

The oil and gas supervisor directs the commission, the Casper-based state agency that oversees oil and gas development in Wyoming. The agency has dozens of full-time staff and is governed by five commissioners, among them the governor, the state geologist and the state lands director.

The job has been vacant since Tom Doll quit in June. Doll resigned amid criticism for suggesting that people in the Pavillion gas field who were living with polluted groundwater were motivated by greed as they sought remedies.

About 40 people applied for the oil and gas supervisor job before the lead candidate backed out. Those candidates remain in the running, commissioner Ryan Lance said Monday.

The commission won’t hesitate to make a job offer if the right candidate emerges before lawmakers act on the bill, said Lance, director of the Office of State Lands and Investments.

“We’re in a wait-and-see stance at this point. If there’s an application that comes in and we need to talk to them, I think we’ll act,” said Lance.