GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — Hundreds of oil and gas wells could be drilled in the months ahead in an area spanning Converse County and part of Niobrara County.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management recently completed environmental studies for potential drilling in that area.

The Associated Press reports that as many as 444 new oil and gas wells could be drilled.

Joe Meyer, manager of the Casper BLM Field Office, says about 20 companies have applied to drill in the area. The companies include Chesapeake, EOG and Samson Oil and Gas.

Meyer says interest in drilling in northern Converse County has picked up since last year.