ExxonMobil wants 1,000 wells
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” 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 published an environmental study of the plan in September and is taking public comments until Nov. 3.
The land bureau is also revising its policies for this area of western Colorado because of the significant jump in drilling activity over the past few years. Its current policies anticipate about 1,000 wells would be drilled over the next 20 years. The agency 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 environmental study, the new drilling would take place on 29,680 acres of federal, leased and state land in Rio Blanco County in northwestern Colorado.
The ExxonMobil proposal represents a significant jump in gas activity in the central Piceance Basin, calling for 1,080 wells to be drilled to depths of 12,000 to 15,000 feet from 120 well pads.
The wells would be spaced one per 20 acres, which is “necessary to avoid waste and efficiently develop the resource,” the study stated.
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 water and sewer lines.
The park is expected to open in 2006 with 180 workers and can be expanded to accommodate 500 workers.
For a copy of the environmental study, visit the White River Field Office Web site http://www.co.blm.gov/wrra.
Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado
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