US BLM advances 1.1 mil acre Wyoming gas development project
Houston (Platts)--10Dec2012/629 pm EST/2329 GMT
Representatives of the exploration-and-production industry and the
environmental community on Monday both said they could work together to
implement a massive gas development project, which the US Bureau of Land
Management is proposing on over 1 million acres in south-central Wyoming.
The BLM Rawlins field office on Friday announced it was seeking public
comment the draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Continental
Divide-Creston project, a major expansion of gas development on 1.1 million
acres of mixed federal, state and private land in Carbon and Sweetwater
The proposed project calls for the drilling of 8,950 new wells,
including between 100 and 500 coalbed gas wells, near the existing Continental
Divide/Wamsutter II and Creston/Blue Gap gas fields over the next 15 years.
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Bruce Hinchey, president of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming, said
producers in the state are pleased BLM has reached a milestone in the long,
drawn-out draft EIS process for the project, which already has been five or
six years in the making.
"We're glad to see it going forward. It will mean jobs for Wyoming and
the nation," he said.
More than 20 E&P companies are expected to take part in the project
area's development. In a statement Monday, Brett Clanton, a spokesman for BP,
the leading operator in the proposed project, said the development would be
important for the state's economic future.
"The BLM and the state have worked hard by reaching out to various
stakeholders on preparing the draft EIS, and we will continue to work with
them as they finalize the process," he said.
Eric Molvar, a wildlife biologist with the Biodiversity Conservation
Alliance, said that because much of the Continental Divide-Creston project
area already has been developed for oil and gas, the proposed development
does not present as many of the wildlife habitat concerns as other proposed
development plans in more remote regions of the state.
"Much of this project area is already heavily industrialized and has
lost much of its habitat value," he said. In addition, in those parts of the
project area that include sage grouse core areas and habitat for
environmentally sensitive species such as mountain plover, producers have
agreed "to locate as many wells as possible on existing well pads," Molvar
"Some of the producers, they're willing to cluster their wells and have
eight wells per pad," he said.
Drilling multiple new wells from existing drilling pads will not only
decrease surface disturbance, it will also prove more economic for the gas
producers than drilling one well per pad, Molvar said.
The BLM said the proposed project, which calls for operators to use a
combination of vertical and directional drilling techniques, could produce an
estimated 12.02 Tcf of gas during its anticipated 30 to 40 year life.
Land ownership in the project area is divided up into a checkerboard
pattern, comprising 59% federal, 37% private and 4% state-owned land. The
project area stretches from about 25 miles west of the city of Rawlins on the
eastern boundary to roughly 50 miles east of the city of Rock Springs on the
western boundary and is bisected by Interstate Highway 80.
"Proposed by BP American Production Co., the planned facilities would
include well pads, gas and water collection pipelines, compressor stations,
water disposal systems, an access road network and an electrical distribution
system," BLM said.
The project area was first developed for gas in the 1950s, and currently
supports more than 4,000 wells.
Under the EIS' preferred alternative, the proposed development would
result in 49,218 acres of surface disturbance, including nearly 8,500 acres
of long-term disturbance in the project area.
The BLM said it had "worked closely with federal, state and local
partners, members of the environmental and conservation communities as well
as other interested stakeholders to develop the [EIS'] preferred alternative,
which would require significant environment mitigation measures to ensure an
appropriate balance between energy development and protection of the area's
outstanding natural resources."
The agency said it would accept written comments on the draft EIS until
--Jim Magill, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh, email@example.com