Doug Cooper resides outside of Casper and lives on his ranch that has been in the family for many years. On the Cooper’s ranch there are more than 60 oil wells and companies are still drilling more wells.
The ranch is connected to Teapot Dome and Salt Creek Oil Fields. In the 1920’s there was a scandal at Teapot Dome and it is a very historical location in the oil industry.
The area where the Cooper ranch is located is very connected to the energy industry. There are oil wells on the neighbor’s ranches and there is a wind turbine farm to the south of Coopers. Most of the ranchers are surface owners because when the land was homesteaded many years ago people made claims to the mineral rights and there is still evidence of the claims by the wells.
In the 1920’s, companies started drilling for oil in that area. A big oil boom in the 1950’s resulted in 60 oil wells being drilled. The second boom of oil drilling came in the 70’s and since then more wells are drilled every few years. Through the years better technologies have been developed and used by energy companies to get better results and find oil more efficiently.
Doug believes in making a relationship with the oil companies. He says it makes it easier to work with them and get things done the right way to avoid problems on the ranch. There are four different companies that control the wells on the ranch. Doug has made relationships with all the companies and has made rules for the companies to follow.
Doug said there are some issues that make drilling for oil complicated. State and federal regulations are one issue. Right now on the ranch, they are trying to drill 8 new locations but this can’t be done because of Sage Grouse regulations. The ranch and oil companies are working together to find answers to their problems concerning drilling and sage grouse habitats. Regulations also restrict drilling between July 15- November 15. This causes problems with the activities that are going on at the ranch at this time.
Doug also believes there are benefits to working with the energy industry. Ranchers have used leftover oil-field pipe to build corrals. Oil companies also sometimes let ranchers use their water pits to water cattle after drilling is complete.
There is always a give and take for landowners and energy companies, but in Wyoming where the ranching and energy industries are so closely tied, all parties do their best to produce products that keep America running.
As told to Brittany Schaneman – Wyoming Stock Growers Association Summer 2012 Intern