Energy company opens $20 million shortcut |

Energy company opens $20 million shortcut

Donna GrayGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

PARACHUTE – A narrow road carved into the side of a steep canyon about two miles northwest of Parachute will mean shorter trips and big cost savings for a regional oil and gas company. A $20 million road and tunnel up Wheeler Gulch and through Allen Point is expected to save the company $40 to $70 million over the life of the development, said Blake Roush, project manager for Williams Highlands business unit. Previously, crews had to leave Williams’ Parachute office and head up Interstate 70 to Rifle, then up Highway 13 to the Piceance Creek Road and down Cow Creek to the rim road that follows the edge of the Bookcliffs, a trip of about 90 miles one way, Roush said.Now, the new private road winds up in a series of four switchbacks and enters the tunnel at about 8,000 feet in elevation. From the top, there’s a sweeping view of the top of the Roan Plateau to the north and Battlement Mesa to the south.

Both tunnel and road were constructed by Peter Kiewit Sons Inc. Tunnel excavation broke through to the far side of Allen Point on March 5.The road serves William’s Allen Point lease area, which covers approximately 9,600 acres and is within the Bureau of Land Management’s planning area for the Roan Plateau. Currently, Williams has 8 wells in that area and plans to drill another 13, said Williams spokeswoman Susan Alvillar.BLM’s recently issued record of decision on management of the gas-rich Roan calls for one oil and gas operator to perform all exploration and development work on the leases that will be held by any number of operators. Development on top of the plateau will also be clustered on the ridge tops and drilling will be restricted to about 320 acres at a time. The operator will not be allowed to move to another area until the previous one is reclaimed.BLM has projected 1,570 new wells could be drilled in the planning area, including 210 wells on top of the plateau over 20 years.”Roan Plateau leasing is certainly on our radar screen, but a lot has to happen before leases are issued,” Alvillar said. “We have a 10-year inventory (of wells to be drilled) on our existing leases.”Colorado Congressmen John Salazar, D-Manassa, and Mark Udall, D-Nederland, have asked the House Appropriations Subcommittee to include a provision in the 2008 appropriations bill for the Department of the Interior that would in effect delay lease funding until the fiscal year beginning in October 2008.Until that legislation plays out in Congress, BLM will hold off on leasing the Roan Plateau.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 16605dgray@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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