BLM seeks comments on drilling plan |

BLM seeks comments on drilling plan

The Bureau of Land Management is accepting comment on a natural gas drilling plan that would allow 38 new surface locations plus the use of 21 existing well pads on 22,500 acres of public lands between Rifle and Parachute.

The area proposed for development includes lands administered by the BLM north of Interstate 70 between Wheeler Gulch/County Road 215 on the west and Webster Mesa on the east.

The majority of lands involved were transferred from management of the Department of Energy to the BLM and were leased for oil and gas development in 1999.

The BLM’s Glenwood Springs Field Office is accepting comment until July 5 on its Environmental Assessment for the Wheeler-to-Webster Geographic Area Proposal (GAP).

A public meeting to discuss the GAP is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, June 12, at the Battlement Mesa Activity Center, 398 Arroyo Drive. The purpose of the meeting is to provide an overview of the GAP, answer related questions, and make available copies of the EA.

The GAP is a three- to five-year development plan that the BLM requires operators to provide when federal leases are being actively developed.

The GAP will be used to plan the development of federal leases within the area; to account for well locations, roads and pipelines; and to identify cumulative environmental effects and appropriate mitigation. The GAP is intended to provide an overview of the development, rather than a case-by-case submittal of proposed wells.

The drilling plan calls for a total of 160 new bottom hole locations for natural gas wells, although the exact number of wells drilled may be less than proposed and drilling time may vary. The 160 wells would include 42 vertical wells and 118 directional ones. A total of 78 would be based on 40-acre downhole spacing, and 82 on 20-acre spacing.

Said Steve Bennett, associate BLM field manager, “We have been working with Williams Production and Greystone Consultants for over a year in preparing the GAP and associated environmental assessment. One of the biggest challenges has been ensuring conformance with the new lease terms, which have set a high standard for environmental protection.”

Issues that have been identified include wildlife habitat, visual viewsheds, fossil locations, soil erosion and reclamation.

The June 12 meeting will not be a forum for making oral comments. However, written comments can be mailed to the Field Office Manager at BLM, Glenwood Springs Field Office, P.O. Box 1009, Glenwood Springs, CO 81602; questions can be directed to Steve Bennett at the Glenwood Springs Field Office, by calling 970-947-2813. Copies of the EA are available by calling 970-947-2800.

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