NPL proposes 3,500 new wells
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
April 17, 2011
The Bureau of Land Management has announced that it plans to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for EnCana’s Proposed Normally Pressured Lance (NPL) Natural Gas Development project in southern Sublette County.
The NPL encompasses about 142,000 acres located immediately south and west of the existing Jonah gas field. According to a notice published in the Federal Register this week, EnCana owns leasehold interests on more than 70 percent of this NPL area and proposes to develop up to 3,500 wells ranging from a depth of 6,500 to 13,500 feet, and based on a maximum of 64 wells per one-mile section of land. The well will be drilled over a 10-year period. To minimize surface disturbance, wells would be directionally drilled from up to four 18-acre multi-well pad locations per section, and the drilling program would involve about 10 natural gas drilling rigs.
According to the notice:
Only drilling muds and cement mixed with fresh water would be used to drill and case through surface water aquifers. About 25,000 barrels of recycled water would be used to drill the majority of each well. Well completion operations would be conducted using EnCana’s flare-less flow-back technology to eliminate or reduce emissions and flow-back water would be recycled for a ‘‘net-zero’’ water balance.
In order to minimize air emissions and surface disturbance, a three-phase pipeline gathering system would transport gas, condensate and produced- water to a minimal number of central collection facilities. Pipelines for the gathering system would parallel roads whenever possible and be buried deep enough to avoid freezing conditions.
Electric compression would be used to minimize air impacts. Access roads and production infrastructure would be co- located wherever possible. Only a minimum number of access roads and equipment areas needed for on-going production, operation and maintenance activities would be maintained. Remote telemetry technology would reduce truck traffic associated with well servicing. Well pad locations would be constructed so that disturbed areas and haul road distances would be minimized. Topsoil would be conserved for subsequent reclamation.
Reclamation efforts would commence as soon as each well pad location is completed and production equipment is operational in accordance with Onshore Order Number 1. Initial surface disturbance is estimated to be 5,429 acres or 3.85 percent of the total NPL area. After reclamation, an estimated 1,411 acres or 1.0 percent of the NPL area would remain in use for production purposes for the life of the gas field.
The purpose of the public scoping process is to determine relevant issues that will influence the scope of the environmental analysis, including alternatives, and guide the process for developing the EIS. At present, the BLM has identified the following potential issues:
• Increased traffic and associated impacts on existing county, state, and BLM roads;
• Socioeconomic impacts to local communities;
• Impacts to surface water and groundwater resources, including floodplains;
• Air quality impacts from emissions resulting from drilling and production activities;
• Impacts related to reclamation of disturbed areas and control of invasive plants;
• Conflicts with livestock management operations in the Project Area;
• Impacts to cultural, historical, and paleontological resources within the Project Area;
• Impacts to wildlife habitats and populations within the Project Area, including big game, raptors, and sage- grouse;
• Impacts to threatened, endangered, or candidate plant and animal species, including potential Green River water depletions and effects on downstream listed fish species;
• Impacts to lands with wilderness characteristics;
• Cumulative effects of drilling and development activities when combined with other ongoing and proposed developments; and
• Conflicts between mineral development activities and recreational opportunities.
The BLM will utilize and coordinate the NEPA public comment process to comply with section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. Native American tribal consultations will be conducted in accordance with BLM policy and sites of religious or cultural significance or other tribal concerns will be given due consideration. An updated inventory of lands with wilderness characteristics will be utilized to comply with Secretarial Order 3310. Federal, State, and local agencies, along with other stakeholders interested in or affected by the BLM’s decision on this project are invited to participate in the scoping process and, if eligible, may request or be requested by the BLM to participate as a cooperating agency."
For more information, contact Kellie Roadifer, Pinedale BLM Office, at 307-367-5309. Public comments on issues may be submitted in writing to the BLM until May 12, 2011.
You may submit comments related to the NPL Natural Gas Development Project by any of the following methods:
• E-mail: NPL_EIS_WY@blm.gov;
• Mail: P.O. Box 768, Pinedale, WY 82941; or
• Hand delivery: 1625 W. Pine Street, Pinedale, Wyoming.