Study finds that western Pitkin County is ripe for gas drilling
A recent study by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management indicates the natural gas boom that is sweeping through Garfield County could spill into Pitkin County.The western edge of Pitkin County has a “high occurrence potential” for natural gas deposits, the BLM found while working on an update of its land management plan for the Glenwood Springs region.The BLM is working on what it calls a Resource Management Plan that will dictate how it manages land for the next 20 years in its Glenwood Springs Field Office or region. A map produced as part of that proposed management plan shows natural gas potential in western Pitkin County has the same general rating as areas south of Silt and Rifle, where numerous gas wells have been drilled in the last five years.The remote western part of the county is on the eastern edge of the gas-rich Piceance Basin, BLM Public Information Specialist David Boyd said Thursday.Oil and gas activity is expected to be high in a vast area that stretches from Pitkin County in the east to west of Parachute, and from 20 miles southwest of Carbondale to 20 miles north of Rifle.Thousands of acres of federal lands in western Pitkin County are already leased for gas exploration, the BLM’s map shows. There are 10 active gas wells in Pitkin County, although none of them are production wells, Boyd said. There are seven injection wells, where gas is shipped from production wells and stored for future use. There are also three monitoring wells.Those 10 wells are part of the Wolf Creek Gas Storage facility, about 15 miles west, southwest of Carbondale. Although that storage facility is located in Pitkin County, access is via forest roads curling south from Sunlight Ski Area outside of Glenwood Springs.SourceGas, a company that provides gas to the Roaring Fork Valley, obtained a permit to drill an additional injection well this fall in the Wolf Creek area.A two-mile stretch of Forest Road 321 was closed Thursday to allow the drilling. The Forest Service said in a statement that the road will likely remain closed until November for the work. BLM records indicate this will be the first well drilled for a natural gas facility in Pitkin County in decades.SourceGas is using an existing well pad to drill the new well, so disturbance to the national forest will be kept to a minimum, according to the Forest Service. A drilling rig will be erected right on the forest road to undertake the drilling, a statement from the agency said.It’s unknown when, if ever, permits will be sought for production wells in Pitkin County.
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