Energy search speads in forest | VailDaily.com

Energy search speads in forest

Scott Condon

The U.S. Forest Service is seeking public comments on the first proposal to drill a natural gas well in Pitkin County in more than 40 years.EnCana Oil and Gas Inc. has applied to drill one exploratory gas well about 12 miles southwest of Carbondale. The drilling will occur late this summer or in the fall, depending on when the Forest Service issues a permit.If EnCana finds reserves that are economically feasible to produce, the Forest Service will perform another review of a broader plan to build a pipeline and other infrastructure needed for production. That study would occur in late 2004 and early 2005.”If the exploratory well is dry or production is considered uneconomic, the well would be plugged, project-related equipment would be removed, and any associated surface disturbance would be rehabilitated as necessary,” said a document released this week by the White River Forest supervisor’s office.EnCana’s activity marks the first sign that the natural gas boom that’s hit the West Slope in recent years, especially Garfield County, could spread into extreme western Pitkin County. That part of the county is considered to be on the fringe of the gas-rich Piceance Basin.EnCana is almost certain to receive a permit, even if public sentiment in environmentally friendly Pitkin County is against drilling. EnCana has a lease on forest land that has been identified by the Forest Service as suitable for exploration for minerals. In addition, the exploratory drilling is proposed in an area previously used for gas production. The proposed well is in the Wolf Creek Storage Field, an area which produced natural gas from 1960 to 1972.EnCana plans to search for gas in a rock formation that isn’t as deep underground as the one tapped during its first dozen years of production, according to the company representative. It will search about 4,000 feet beneath the surface.