When the Wyoming State Legislature next meets, one of the issues they will consider is how to deal with the state’s suffering minerals industry. Teton County Senator Mike Gierau says Wyoming bases all of its budget projections on the price of oil which has taken a dive over the past few months. He says the entire industry suffered a one-two punch even as we were entering the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gierau said, “Half of that loss, I think anyone who watches such things can attribute those losses to fights, that frankly are happening on the other side of the world – fights between the Saudis and the Russians, fights between other oil producers – that have really left the American oil industry in a really tough scrape. It has taken the price of oil, the West Texas Intermediate, from $40 a barrel down to $20 back before COVID-19. With COVID-19 after all of that price war was happening which dropped prices of our oil down, the bottom dropped out because then there was no demand. With COVID-19, everyone stopped driving, everyone stopped manufacturing, everything stopped across the world. That took the price from $20 a barrel in some cases below zero.’
Gierau says between the condition of the oil and gas industry and Wyoming’s coal industry, the state economy is “on the ropes,” and the federal money cannot be used to “back-fill” for the losses. He says tough challenges lie before the state legislature, but he remains optimistic that the state will rise to meet them.