From the pages of
The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 49 - 8/3/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

BLM Approves Pinedale Anticline Drilling Project

by Rob Shaul

Last week, the BLM issued the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Pinedale Anticline Natural Gas Project. The decision allows the oil and gas operators with leases in the 197,345 acre project area to begin developing their leases. The BLM announced the decision last week, but as of Tuesday, a copy of the Record of Decision was not available for inspection.

The Record of Decision allows up to 900 wells to be drilled in the Anticline project area which extends from the Town of Pinedale 30 miles south to the Jonah field. The bulk of the public's concern with the project was focused on the drilling which will be located on the Mesa just south of Pinedale.

Most of the Mesa leases are held by Questar Exploration andProduction which said earlier this year it intended to drill nine exploratory wells on its leases this year. Tuesday, Questar confirmed this with an announcement that it was moving four rigs onto its Mesa leases to begin drilling operations. Curt Burnett, Vice President of Public Affairs for the company, said it will take approximately 30 days to begin drilling and another 30 days to complete the initial four wells. Greg Noble with the BLM said that due to these time frames, combined with the Mesa's winter restrictions which go into effect in November, Questar will only be able to drill 8 or nine wells this year.

Mr. Noble added that the Record of Decision did remove one of the most controversial restrictions on the Anticline development from the operators' perspective. In the Final Environmental Impact Statement, the BLM had proposed to limit the number of drilling rigs which could be operating on the project area at any one time. Operators complained that this would cripple their operational flexibility. Mr. Noble said Tuesday that restriction was removed from the ROD.

In addition to Questar, other Anticline operators include: Alpine Gas Company, Anschutz Exploration Corporation, B-P Amoco Production Company, HS Resources, Inc., McMurry Oil Company, Questar Exploration & Production, Ultra Resources, Inc., Yates Petroleum Corporation, Western Gas Resources, Inc., Jonah Gas Gathering Company, and other companies.

The Pinedale Anticline ROD is currently at the printer, and should be available soon from the BLM Field Office in Pinedale at 432 E. Mill Street (behind Allen Dodge). Call 367-5300 to request a copy be mailed.

The ROD may be appealed to the Interior Board of Land Appeals during a 30-day appeal period which begins with the publication of the project approval in the Federal Register, anticipated to be about August 7, 2000.

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Publisher/Editor: Rob Shaul