Cheyene, Wy – High staff turnover at U.S. Bureau of Land
Management offices in northeastern Wyoming is contributing to
delays in acting on permit applications to drill for coal-bed
methane in the Powder River Basin.
Chris Hanson is manager of the BLM's office in Buffalo. He says
staff in his office has seen a 17-percent turnover this year.
Hanson says the BLM is having a hard time keeping up with
salaries offered by private industry for petroleum engineers and
other jobs. He also notes that housing prices in Buffalo and other
towns in the area have increased sharply.
One industry spokesman says that they've seen the average time
to get a drilling permit approved by BLM increase from 200 days to
300 on average over the past year.
The BLM's Buffalo office issued nearly 3,000 permits last year,
but only 195 of them were drilled.
The gas industry in the area has faced drilling restrictions
because of wildlife concerns and because of weather conditions.
Officials say that lower natural gas prices and high development
costs have also contributed to a general slowing of energy