Jun 19, 2013 The Associated Press

Miners convene in Sheridan

SHERIDAN -- The Wyoming Mining Association is holding its annual convention this week in Sheridan.

The convention began Wednesday and runs through Friday.

Featured speakers include Gov. Matt Mead, former Gov. Dave Freudenthal and Eugene Trisko of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Energy.

The agenda program will also include a panel discussion on the impacts of sage grouse regulation on industry and the state.

The Wyoming Mining Association represents and advocates for 40 mining companies producing bentonite, coal, trona and uranium, as well as companies exploring for gold and rare earth minerals.

Enerflex closes gas plant

CASPER -- A Canadian company announced Thursday that it's closing a natural gas compression and processing plant in Casper and laying off dozens of workers.

Enerflex Ltd., based in Calgary, Canada, announced Thursday it is closing its Casper plant because of shifting demand in the U.S. gas markets. The company said demand is shifting away from coal-bed methane from Wyoming's Powder River Basin, while sales of shale gas produced in the eastern U.S. are increasing.

The closure is affecting 89 Enerflex employees in Casper. Of those, seven have been transferred, while 12 are working to shut down the plant and the rest were laid off.

"They are really good, quality people," said Kurt Schaerer, Enerflex's general manager of facilities in Canada and the northern U.S. "They're people others would want in Casper."

The employees who were laid off include welders, pipe fitters, electrical instrument workers, purchasers and finance employees, Schaerer said.

Carol Ionel, vice president of human resources for Enerflex, said the employees will be paid through Aug. 12. That satisfies federal requirements for companies with 100 or more employees to give 60 calendar days' notice of mass layoffs and plant closings.

The Casper plant opened in 2006, primarily to supply CBM compression in the Powder River Basin, according to a memo affected employees received from Jerry Fraelic, Enerflex's president of Americas.

"This facility was very successful in serving this market over a number of years," Fraelic stated in the memo. "Unfortunately with the emergence of more economical shale gas plays in other parts of the United States, the Powder River Basin is no longer an active area for new compression."

State rig count down by one

HOUSTON -- Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. says the number of rigs actively exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. increased by six this week to 1,771.

The Houston-based company said Friday in its weekly report that 1,413 rigs were exploring for oil and 353 for gas. Five were listed as miscellaneous. A year ago there were 1,971 active rigs.

Of the major oil- and gas-producing states, Louisiana gained three rigs, Texas and Colorado picked up two and California one. West Virginia dropped two rigs while Alaska, New Mexico and Wyoming each dropped one. The count for Arkansas, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania was unchanged from the previous week.

The U.S. rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981 and bottomed at 488 in 1999.

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