WSGS releases 2020 snapshot of Wyoming's oil and gas resources

The latest Oil and Natural Gas Resources of Wyoming report, published annually by the Wyoming State Geological Survey, outlines the significant events that occurred in Wyoming’s oil and natural gas industry during 2020.

“Every year, the WSGS provides this geologically focused snapshot of Wyoming’s oil and gas industry,” State Geologist and WSGS Director Erin Campbell said in a news release. “Last year was an unprecedented year, yet there are notable similarities with past boom-and-bust cycles. This report frames 2020 within the context of these previous downturn-upswing cycles.”

At the beginning of 2020, oil production in Wyoming was poised for another record-breaking year, and gas production was expected to continue its gradual decline. However, the COVID-19 pandemic compounded mounting regional, national and international imbalances between consumer demand and storage inventories. Wyoming was not immune to these combined stressors that led to acute, but temporary, price and production slumps nationwide. Drilling in Wyoming also came to a complete standstill in June 2020 for the first time since 1884.

Despite a challenging year, there are reasons to be optimistic about Wyoming’s oil and gas industries. In addition to Wyoming’s extensive oil and gas reserves, prices are showing signs of recovering, preliminary data for the latter half of 2020 suggests production has stabilized at about 85% of pre-pandemic levels, and drill rigs have once again started operating in the state.

Although Wyoming has weathered previous downturns in its oil and gas industry, recovery from this year’s events will be less dependent on new technology or discoveries and more contingent on national and global production decisions that rebalance supply and demand.

The 2020 summary report is available as a free download from the WSGS website, https://tinyurl.com/y242bxkt.

Lunavi is Certified Microsoft Azure Expert Managed Service Provider for second consecutive year

Lunavi, a leading provider of digital transformation consulting and managed IT services, was awarded Microsoft’s Azure Expert Managed Service Provider (MSP) for the second consecutive year.

The certification is the highest distinction Microsoft Partners can achieve for Azure, and is awarded to a highly select set of partners with the demonstrated expertise and capabilities to help customers take full advantage of the Microsoft Azure suite. Lunavi is one of approximately 85 partners worldwide to earn this distinction.

Created in 2018, the Azure Expert MSP certification distinguishes providers that have demonstrated expertise in transitioning operations to the cloud, modernizing applications and ensuring information security. The certification audit process measures managed services capabilities, including staff aptitude, customer support process, documentation, system architecture design, and customer-based evidence.

In addition to its Azure Expert MSP status, the company holds 13 Microsoft Gold competencies and has quadrupled its Microsoft certifications over the last three years to 55.

Lunavi, formerly Green House Data, helps companies to digitally transform their businesses and illuminate the path forward in IT modernization through the power of human ingenuity. Lunavi has nine locations throughout North America in Denver; Cheyenne; Omaha, Nebraska; Atlanta; Seattle, and Toronto, Canada.

NREL reports sustainability benchmarks for plastics recycling and redesign

Researchers developing renewable plastics and exploring new processes for plastics upcycling and recycling technologies will now be able to easily baseline their efforts to current manufacturing practices to understand if their efforts will save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Benchmark data calculated and compiled at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, provide a measurement – at the supply chain level – of how much energy is required and the amount of greenhouse gases emitted from the production of a variety of plastics in the United States.

“Today, we employ a predominantly linear economy for many of the materials we use, including plastics,” said Gregg Beckham, a senior research fellow at NREL. “Many people and organizations around the world are looking at ways to make our materials economy circular.”

To that end, NREL leads the BOTTLE Consortium, a partnership involving research laboratories and universities to develop methods to upcycle today’s waste plastics and redesign tomorrow’s plastics to be recyclable by design. BOTTLE stands for Bio-Optimized Technologies to keep Thermoplastics out of Landfills and the Environment.

To give some context, the polymers covered in this study represent approximately 95% of global production, a combined 360 million metric tons annually. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, plastics production accounted for about 11% of all manufacturing energy consumption in the United States as of 2014. The United States is responsible for generating the largest share of waste plastics in the world, according to a newly published analysis in Science Advances.

Biodiesel, renewable diesel industry on the rise in 2021

The biodiesel and renewable diesel industry is on the “rise,” according to the National Biodiesel Board.

NBB recently hosted more than 550 biodiesel and renewable diesel producers, distributors, retailers and other industry advocates at the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo A virtual event to share the direction of the industry now and in the future.

Throughout the conference, industry leaders shared how they intend to keep momentum rising in the next decade to meet NBB's vision of 6 billion gallons by 2030.

“The fuels industry continues to reinvent itself. With sweeping changes to emissions, after-treatment devices and limits, as well as electricity generated from renewable resources, NBB works to ensure biomass-based diesel fuels provide the performance and benefits required by users, regulators and the public,” said Scott Fenwick, technical director for NBB.

During the conference, the trade association shared updates for each of its core program areas, with insights into direction and influences for the industry.

Made from an increasingly diverse mix of resources such as recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats, biodiesel and renewable diesel are better, cleaner fuels that are available now for use in existing diesel engines without modification.

Report explores how pharmacists can safeguard patients from risky dietary supplements

A new report, “Risky Dietary Supplements: How Pharmacists Can Help Protect Patients," explores adulterated dietary supplements that enter the marketplace and how pharmacists are well-positioned to provide consumers with information regarding the risks associated with these supplements.

Since the mid-1990s, the United States dietary supplement market has grown tenfold to a $40 billion industry with at least 50,000 products available for sale. The report explains that many consumers believe Food and Drug Administration verifies the safety of supplements prior to sale, but that is not the case. Because supplements fall under the subcategory of food, FDA regulates these products after they enter the marketplace and have been sold to consumers. Unfortunately, this gap provides an opportunity for actors to illegally sell misbranded and adulterated dietary supplements.

Illegal dietary supplements can be:

  • Contaminated with undeclared active pharmaceutical ingredients,
  • Loaded with declared adulterants, such as amphetamine derivatives, steroids or untested new drugs, and/or
  • Falsely marketed with claims to treat diseases.

The report references one U.S. study that estimates 23,000 emergency department visits and 2,000 hospitalizations per year are due to adverse events related to misbranded dietary supplements. According to a 2019 study by The Pew Charitable Trusts, 70% of Americans have used dietary supplements in the past two years. Therefore, the need to provide resources to patients continues to grow.

Pharmacists can play a critical role in protecting consumers from dangerous supplements. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy supports increased education for pharmacists about misbranded and adulterated dietary supplements, in addition to counseling for patients regarding the safety concerns associated with these products. Read the full report to learn more about rogue dietary supplements and how pharmacists can protect public health at www.nabp.pharmacy.

Women in tech face lockdown barriers to career progression

A new report shows half of women surveyed working in technology believe the effects of COVID-19 have delayed their career progression, despite a similar percentage believing that much-needed gender equality is more likely to be achieved through remote working structures.

Kaspersky’s new "Women in Tech report, Where are we now? Understanding the evolution of women in technology," found that almost a third of women globally working in the tech industry do, indeed, prefer working at home to working in the office. A similar number reported they work most efficiently when working from home, and as many as 33% revealed they have more autonomy when not working in an office.

However, more concerning statistics from this report highlight how the potential of remote working for women in tech isn’t quite being matched by social progression in this "working from home" dynamic. Almost half of women working in technology have struggled to juggle work and family life since March 2020 – a figure that is at its most prominent in North America, but is a consistent worldwide trend.

Delving deeper, the reasons for this imbalance become clearer. When female respondents were asked about the day-to-day functions that are detracting from productivity or work progression, 60% said they had done the majority of cleaning in the home, compared to 47% of men, a figure which rises to 78% and 64%, respectively, in the United States. Meanwhile, 63% of women had been in charge of home schooling, compared to 52% of men, and 54% of women have had to adapt their working hours more than their male partner in order to look after the family. As a result, 50% of women believe that the effects of COVID-19 have actually delayed, rather than enhanced, their overall career progression.

While these examples of social disparity aren’t tech specific, they do point toward a barrier that is preventing women from capitalizing on the past year’s shift to remote working. As many as 41% of women in tech (compared to 34% of men) believe an equal working environment would be best for career progression, and 46% think that remote working is an optimum way to achieve that equality.

View this report at https://tinyurl.com/y556s3f6.

SBA launches new, free online digital learning platform to assist women-owned small businesses

The U.S. Small Business Administration recently announced the launch of Ascent, a first-of-its-kind, free digital e-learning platform geared to help women entrepreneurs grow and expand their businesses.

Ascent – https://ascent.sba.gov/ – has content such as tips for preparing and recovering from disasters, strategic marketing and business financial strategy development.

Ascent is a joint initiative between the White House, the SBA, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau and the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Designed to support women entrepreneurs looking to remain resilient in their operations, Ascent is packed with content and resources from each agency and backed by academic research.

Women entrepreneurs start and own nearly half of all businesses in the U.S., according to SBA, employing 9.4 million workers, generating $1.9 trillion in revenue and representing all industries.

Ascent offers several key journeys to assist women business owners with strategies towards growth and success, including Disaster & Economic Recovery, Strategic Marketing, Your People, Your Business Financial Strategy and Access to Capital. Each journey contains content and tools needed to grow your business. Additional topics will be added over time.

For additional opportunities on how women entrepreneurs can start, grow and recover, visit SBA.gov or contact your local SBA District Office.

Tri-State Co-op looks at Responsible Energy Plan

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association recently marked its significant achievements in 2020 and considered its upcoming efforts for the future with the anniversary of its Responsible Energy Plan, the most transformative change in the 68-year history of the cooperative.

From the commencement of construction of new renewable energy projects and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to the development of new partial requirements contract options, Tri-State has pursued a course to provide reliable, affordable, responsible and more flexible power to its 42-member distribution cooperatives, associations and public power districts – including eight in Wyoming.

“We accomplished a great deal in 2020, but we have more work to do in the coming years,” said Duane Highley, Tri-State CEO.

In January, Tri-State unveiled six new renewable energy projects in Colorado and New Mexico, which, along with two previously announced projects, will add 1,000 megawatts of emissions-free renewable resources by the end of 2023. At that point, 50% of the electricity consumed by Tri-State members will come from emissions-free renewables.

As Tri-State rapidly transitions to cleaner energy, there are increased opportunities to power consumer needs with low-cost, reduced-emissions electricity. To learn more about the Responsible Energy Program, visit https://www.tristategt.org/responsible-energy-plan

CoBank: Probable boost in fiscal spending lifts financial outlook

According to a new quarterly report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange, it will likely be summer before the economy really begins to gain steam, but the second half of the year should power the economy to annual growth of roughly 4.5%–5.5%.

The report’s findings include the following:

  • The coronavirus still dominates the economy and continues to impact rural industries, but with vaccines rolling out, the virus will slowly loosen its grip in 2021. Shifts in the political landscape bring new legislative possibilities, including an increased probability of more COVID-19 financial aid and other fiscal spending, which are pushing up expectations for 2021 GDP growth.
  • A steady climb in corn, soybean and wheat prices during the fourth quarter of 2020 afforded growers and grain cooperatives the opportunity to capture significant margins. Since August, corn and soybean prices have risen more than 60%, while wheat prices have gained more than 30%. The rally is a result of smaller-than-expected U.S. production; strong domestic demand for food, feed and fuel; and continued large purchases by China, including its follow-through on actual grain shipments.
  • Farm supply retailers benefitted from the grain price rally, and are poised for a favorable spring agronomy season, weather permitting.
  • U.S. ethanol continued to recover during Q4, with average daily production reaching 14.7 billion gallons, equaling 90% of pre-COVID supply and demand levels. Operating margins retreated, however, to 11 cents per gallon, principally due to a dramatic 26% increase in corn input costs. Fuel ethanol’s production outlook could improve somewhat in 2021, if COVID-19 vaccine deployment fosters a return to workplaces. Although, a continued rise in corn prices will compress operating margins.
  • U.S. beef demand performed well during the fourth quarter, despite the challenging food service environment.
  • The year-end collapse in natural gas prices is closing the door on a comeback for U.S. coal plants. To date, the COVID-19 fallout has not altered plans to retire coal-fired plants, with a quickening pace of decommissioning likely during the next five years.

Read CoBank’s The Quarterly at https://tinyurl.com/y2aeghfq.

Amid economic uncertainty, businesses embrace change, strengthen resolve, survey finds

In a year filled with unforeseen and unparalleled challenges, small and midsize U.S. business leaders are showing resilience by remaining nimble, accelerating digital adoption and using lessons learned to plan for continued economic uncertainty, according to the annual JPMorgan Chase Business Leaders Outlook.

While the majority of businesses surveyed cited continued economic uncertainty as their top challenge, most – 77% and 63% of midsize and small businesses, respectively – remain optimistic about their own performance in the year ahead, even as they continue to face the impacts of a global pandemic.

Still, fewer small businesses anticipate revenue and sales growth for the year ahead, down to 47% from 60% last year. The outlook for midsize businesses is a bit brighter: 69% expect to see revenue and sales growth in 2021, relatively unchanged from 70% a year earlier and before the start of the pandemic.

Some of the tactics businesses used to remain nimble, according to the outlook, included:

  • Shifting to remote work – The majority of midsize (84%) and small (72%) businesses have moved some or all of their workforce to remote work over the past year.
  • Building up cash buffers – Nearly two-thirds (65%) of midsize businesses and one-third (31%) of small businesses have increased cash reserves as a cushion for potential future disruptions, with 33% of small businesses expecting to save more in 2021.
  • Digitizing payments – More than half (56%) of midsize businesses have increased their usage of online banking and treasury tools, including electronic payments. Small businesses have moved toward contactless payment options, with 23% already implementing them and another 20% expecting to do so in 2021. More than one in 10 small businesses (14%) have changed their business model to have 100% of sales come from e-commerce in 2020, with 12% planning to do so in the year ahead.
  • Identifying new paths to capital – Nearly half (44%) of small businesses have explored online lending in the past year, with 25% procuring an online loan. For the upcoming year, 56% say they would be open to procuring an online loan if they find themselves in need of capital.

SBA’s Emerging Leaders Initiative helps growing entrepreneurs

The U.S. Small Business Administration has announced the launch of the 2021 Emerging Leaders initiative for executives of small businesses poised for growth in underserved markets. Local area recruitment for the 2021 training cycle is currently underway at designated SBA district offices. Interested small business owners can learn more regarding eligibility, how to apply, class schedules and locations at www.sba.gov/emergingleaders, or by contacting their local SBA district office.

The SBA’s Emerging Leaders provides free entrepreneurship education and training for executives of small businesses that are potential job creators.

This intensive executive entrepreneurship series includes nearly 100 hours of classroom time. Emerging Leaders provides participants with the opportunity to work with a network of experienced coaches and mentors, attend specialized workshops, and develop connections with their peers, city leaders and the financial community.

For eligibility requirements, registration and training locations, go online to tinyurl.com/vej77j6x.

Milestones

The Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust recently named several people who will fill new roles in the organization: Jessica Crowder was hired as the new executive director on Jan. 4. In that role, she will oversee programs, fundraising, finances and management of the ninth largest regional land trust in the United States (by acres conserved). ... Bobbie Frank, Reg Phillips and Steve Sharkey were all elected to the Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust Board of Directors in mid-January. Frank is a Laramie County resident with a ranch in Meriden. Horse Creek Angus LLC is a family operation focused on raising quality Angus cattle. Phillips is the ranch manager for Diamond D Cattle Co. and the property manager for Wind River Land and Building Company. He is also the chair of Dubois-Crowheart Conservation District and an Area 4 Board Member for the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts. Sharkey, a Jackson resident, grew up in Colorado Springs. He earned a BA in Economics from the University of Colorado and an MBA from the University of Chicago. His career has been focused on investments. He is a director of the Knobloch Family Foundation, which makes grants to land protection and other conservation projects in Wyoming, Georgia and Texas.

Janet Lewis was appointed as executive director of the Wyoming Chapter of the American Red Cross. Lewis will help provide service delivery to 21 Wyoming counties, ensuring the Red Cross mission is carried out. This includes providing direct assistance to families following fires and other disasters; helping make households safer via free smoke alarms, part of the Home Fire campaign; teaching people lifesaving health and safety skills such as CPR and first aid; connecting military families via emergency communication services and more. A graduate of Northwestern University, Lewis previously served as the executive director of the Wyoming Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association since the chapter was established in 2014.

Cris Goldy has been appointed general manager of GH Phipps Wyoming and will lead construction efforts for the company throughout the state. Goldy has more than 30 years of experience in the construction industry, working on projects ranging in size from $1 million to $600 million. He began his career at GH Phipps as a laborer and rose through the ranks of the company to senior project manager and now general manager of the company’s Wyoming operations. The GH Phipps Wyoming Laramie office is focused on projects in health care, civic, K-12 schools and higher education.

Tate Thompson will serve as associate warden at the Wyoming Honor Farm in Riverton, effective Feb. 1. Thompson has more than 15 years of service with the Department of Corrections. He started his career with the Wyoming State Penitentiary as a caseworker. He was employed as a general instructor with the WMCI transition team, as well as a case team leader and program manager at WHF.

Clint Scearce, who served as director of nursing at Life Care Center of Cheyenne for the past 10 years, was recently named executive director of the nursing and rehab center. Scearce earned the Director of Nursing of the Year Award for Life Care Centers of America, the company that manages Life Care Center of Cheyenne, in 2015. Scearce started at the facility as a certified nursing assistant and worked his way up to DON. Scearce currently lives in his hometown of Cheyenne with his wife, Victoria, and their three children.

Derrek Jerred has been named director of business attraction for Cheyenne LEADS, the economic development organization for Cheyenne and Laramie County. The position will focus on planning, organizing and implementing programs and projects that support the attraction, relocation and expansion of domestic and international businesses to the community. A Wyoming native, Jerred graduated from the University of Wyoming in 2013, with a degree in Business Administration. He started his career at Cheyenne LEADS in 2014 as the organization’s business development specialist. In 2020, Jerred was named director of business retention and expansion, where his focus was on businesses currently located in Cheyenne and Laramie County.

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