Regulatory and Economic Development
Wyoming Pipeline Authority
The Wyoming Pipeline Authority (WPA) is described in its enabling legislation as “a body politic and corporate operating as an instrumentality of the state of Wyoming." The WPA is not a state agency but operates on behalf of the state.
The primary purpose of the agency by legislative mandate is to “plan, finance, construct, develop, acquire, maintain and operate a pipeline system or systems within or without the State of Wyoming to facilitate the production, transportation, distribution and delivery of natural gas and associated natural resources to point of consumption or to the point of distribution for consumption."
The WPA has two (2) part-time and one (1) full-time employees. The WPA has been operating for the fiscal period 2018-2020 with a 14% reduced budget of $987,487 from a General Fund appropriation. Since the WPA is not a State agency, the employees are not part of the State personnel system, thus the staff salaries, benefits and employment taxes are included in 900 Series accounts for the budget.
The three primary responsibilities of the WPA are to:
1) Monitor and intervene when necessary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) rulings and activities that affect Wyoming pipeline infrastructure and business;
2) Maintain the pipeline and related infrastructure map and data base; 3) Provide State energy related information to potential businesses as well as monitor federal and other states’ activity that affects the Wyoming energy industry.
Agency Background and Structure
The Wyoming Pipeline Authority was created to mitigate circumstances and events that harm (lower) the value of natural gas, oil and related products produced in Wyoming. The WPA does this because lower prices immediately result in lower tax and royalty revenues to the State. Lower prices result in lower future production, adding to the prospect of lower future tax and royalty revenues to the State.
In 2003 the WPA’s legislation was amended and expanded that resulted in a reactivated Pipeline Authority Board of Directors. In addition, legislation was enacted that provided the WPA with $3 Billion in bonding authority.
The 2003 reactivated Pipeline Authority initially received funds from the Business Council. It was then decided the WPA should operate from State of Wyoming loans with repayment funds to be derived from pipeline and facility activity through its bonding authority. This was never able to be implemented.
The 2006 legislature changed the name of the Wyoming Natural Gas Pipeline Authority to the Wyoming Pipeline Authority.
In 2011 legislation was enacted and clarified that future funding for the WPA can be by appropriation.
The WPA is also involved in trying to reduce the discount to Wyoming crude oil prices experienced by producers, (the “crude oil differential”) and development of CO2 pipelines throughout the state to facilitate enhanced oil recovery. With continued development of natural gas, additional byproducts are produced known as natural gas liquids (NGL). Additional NGL pipeline capacity was needed and the WPA has assisted with the development of two pipelines to transport NGLs out of Wyoming.