JACKSON – The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will soon narrow the applicant field for the state’s top oil and gas regulator position.

Of the 36 applicants for the position, 13 are licensed, with 10 carrying Wyoming-specific licenses, said interim supervisor Bob King. The group includes six international applicants, who King said hail from Iran, Pakistan, Guatemala and Malaysia.

The commission — which includes Gov. Matt Mead — decided in a closed executive session Thursday in Jackson to begin evaluating resumes and requesting interviews with top candidates for the state oil and gas supervisor position, King said.

The commission opened the search to replace former supervisor Tom Doll in July.

The group’s main obstacle has been a state requirement that the seat be filled by a petroleum engineer or geologist with a Wyoming license.

King asked the state Legislature’s Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee in August to consider a bill this winter which would strike the requirement from state law, opening up the hiring process.

The proposed bill won’t be considered until the Legislature’s next session, beginning in January. King said the commission won’t factor the requirement too heavily in the meantime, because of the possibility it could be stricken.

“We won’t arbitrarily exclude those candidates not licensed,” he said.

The applicant pool has grown significantly since King’s last report in late August, when he told the committee that 25 had applied, only six or seven of whom were qualified.

Because the commission can’t be certain what the Legislature will decide come winter, members discussed other possible routes to filling the position.

King said one option the commission could consider is conditionally hiring a desirable but unlicensed candidate pending application for and receipt of a Wyoming license.

“We felt that was an option that the governor and commissioners have at their disposal,” he said.

King said he wasn’t sure of the commission’s timeline for narrowing the field and selecting interviewees. He said the group discussed setting a number of finalists to be interviewed, but declined to elaborate.

Mead asked the commission to include him in the interviewing process, with interviews likely be conducted in the governor’s office.

King has filled the position on an interim basis since Doll’s resignation in July. Doll resigned in the wake of comments he made at a June industry meeting in Canada, where he said that Pavillion-area residents who complained about problems with their water — possibly caused by nearby gas drilling — were motivated by greed.

The comments were decried by the residents and Mead. Doll resigned the next week.

Reach energy reporter Adam Voge at 307-266-0561, or at adam.voge@trib.com. Read his blog at http://trib.com/news/opinion/blogs/boom or follow him on Twitter @vogeCST.

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