ExxonMobil proposing 1,000 new gas wells over 30 years
A long-term natural gas developer in the Piceance Basin will expand its operations and drill over 1,000 wells during the next 30 years. ExxonMobil, which has produced natural gas from the mid-Piceance Basin near Meeker since the 1950s, has filed for additional wells in a development plan that would see about 400 workers in the area during construction, as well as 60 miles of roads and pipelines and a central gas processing plant.The Bureau of Land Management White River Field Office published an environmental assessment (EA) of the proposed plan in September and is taking public comments until Nov. 3. BLM is also preparing a new Resource Management Plan (RMP) for its field office area because of the significant jump in drilling activity over the past few years. Its original RMP predicted about 1,000 wells would be drilled over the 20-year life of the plan. BLM now says it expects upwards of 10,000 wells to be drilled over that period.ExxonMobil first formed its Piceance Creek Unit in 1940 and has been continuously producing natural gas since the 1950s. In 2005, the field was producing approximately 45 million cubic feet of gas per day from 52 wells.According the EA, the new drilling would take place on 29,680 acres of BLM, leased and state land in Rio Blanco County.The ExxonMobil proposal represents a significant jump in gas activity in the central Piceance Basin, calling for 1,080 wells to be directionally drilled from 120 well pads, to depths of 12,000 to 15,000 feet.The wells would be spaced one per 20 acres, which is “necessary to avoid waste and efficiently develop the resource,” the EA stated. The resource analysis and specifications for development in the EA were prepared by consultants hired by ExxonMobil.With the number of workers expected to hit yearly highs of 400 during construction in 2006 and 2007, ExxonMobil plans to construct temporary worker housing, an “RV-type park” with installed water and sewer, where workers would bring their own RVs and be bused to work sites in the basin.The park is expected to open in 2006 with 180 workers and can be expanded to accommodate 500 workers, the EA said.BLM will host a public open house from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18, in Meeker, to share information on the proposed project and alternatives. The public is invited to stop by anytime during the open house in the community room of Mountain Valley Bank, 400 Main St. To receive a copy of the EA, visit the White River Field Office Web site http://www.co.blm.gov/wrra or contact Carol Hollowed, BLM White River Field Office, at 970-878-3800.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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