From the pages of
The Sublette County Journal
Volume 5, Number 12 - 11/16/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Paydirt in Pinedale?
Questar could drill up to 150 rigs on the Mesa
by Rob Shaul

Questar Corporation, the company that owns the bulk of the oil and gas leases on top of the Mesa south of Pinedale, is encouraged with the quality of the exploratory wells it drilled last summer. In a late October press release, the company said it could drill up to 150 gas wells on the Mesa in the years ahead.

Questar has had five rigs frantically drilling on the Mesa since the company was allowed to access its acreage around mid-August. Four 13,000-foot wells have been completed, and the initial production rates of these wells range from 8 to 11 million cubic feet per day. The company estimates that each well holds a gas reserve of 5 to 6 billion cubic feet. In dollar terms at today's high natural gas prices, each of these wells could hold 20 to 30 million dollars worth of natural gas. Questar owns 60% of the stake in each well. The remaining 40% is shared between Ultra Petroleum and Double Eagle.

Questar's Mesa wells are expensive to drill and complete. The company estimates the average drilling and completion cost for each of its Mesa wells to be $2.35 million.

When asked directly if the Mesa was another Jonah Field, Questar Vice President of Public Affairs Curt Burnett was cautious. "It's too early to say," he answered. "The industry and financial markets are very excited about it ... Certainly the preliminary indicators are very positive."

Indeed, the financial markets have taken notice. Questar's Mesa wells were featured in a Barron's full-page story on September 11. "Paydirt In Pinedale?" asked the financial magazine in its very bullish story. Questar's stock has risen over 50% this year, driven somewhat by speculation and excitement over the potential of the gas field on the Mesa.

Questar is putting in a manufactured building adjacent to the Best Western motel to serve as office space and temporary housing for its visiting employees, says the company's drilling manager, Ron Hogan. Further, the company will keep its leased rigs drilling at other locations while the Mesa is closed, in order to keep the expensive and hard-to-obtain equipment available for its use next summer.

According to the BLM, four of those wells could be located in the "sensitive viewshed" just south of Pinedale. On November 9, the BLM sent a letter to interested residents notifying them that Questar has submitted Notices of Staking to drill four wells approximately 3 miles south of Pinedale. Each of the wells is within the sensitive viewshed. The BLM is holding an on-site review of the proposed wells' access road on Tuesday, November 28. The tour will leave the Pinedale BLM office at 9:30 a.m. Participants will be required to provide their own transportation.

Mr. Hogan says Questar is still analyzing the results from this season's Mesa wells. He intends to announce next year's specific drilling plans at the Anticline Transportation Committee meeting in February 2001. <

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