Big gas companies are plenty busy with other places |

Big gas companies are plenty busy with other places

Two of Garfield County’s largest natural gas producers are taking a wait-and-see attitude to the coming opportunity to drill on top of the Roan Plateau. The Bureau of Land Management released its management plan for the plateau Thursday that will allow restricted drilling on about 50 percent of the plateau under the agency’s jurisdiction.The plan calls for development to take place on 350 acres at a time on top of the plateau, primarily confined to ridge tops, with the canyons and creeks off limits to development to protect wildlife and rare plants. BLM will not release additional parcels until that 350 acres is reclaimed to the point that vegetation is established on the ground. Such staging of development would ensure that only about one percent of the 73,602-acre plateau will be disturbed at one time.One operator will be allowed to extract the gas on behalf of all the mineral lease holders. BLM hopes that such an arrangement will help it control the timing and location of activities and minimize surface disturbance.Both Williams and EnCana were less than enthusiastic about the area that has been touted as a huge untapped resource for natural gas. Both companies are operating on the plateau on private lease-holdings.”Williams is intently focused on continuing to responsibly develop our existing inventory of leases so that we increase both reserves and production,” said Williams spokeswoman Susan Alvillar. “We will evaluate the opportunities created by the BLM’s plan in the context of the opportunities we see in our existing leases.”Williams and EnCana, as the largest operators in the southern Piceance Basin, hold the choicest leases along the Colorado River. EnCana operates south of the river on Grass Mesa south of Rifle and Hunter Mesa as well as its private land northwest of Parachute and Divide Creek near Silt. Williams holds leases on private lands between Rulison and Parachute.”We will have to weigh the business case versus the other opportunities in the area,” said EnCana spokesman Doug Hock. “We’ve got a lot of activity on our North Parachute Ranch.”EnCana purchased the 44,000-acre ranch, a former Unocal property, near Parachute for which it holds both the surface and mineral rights.Both Williams and EnCana would be likely candidates for sole operator on the top of the plateau because they have roads and pipelines already in place there.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext.

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