Questar approved for year-round drilling
November 10, 2004
Wyoming Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approved a proposal from Questar Exploration and Development Company (Questar) to conduct year-round drilling in the Pinedale Anticline area. According to the BLM news release, "Implementing the decision will significantly reduce currently authorized human activity impacts and surface disturbance in crucial mule deer winter range and greater sage-grouse habitats." Pinedale Field Office Manager Priscilla E. Mecham signed the Decision Record, on November 9, 2004.
The Pinedale Anticline Working Group (PAWG), a citizen’s advisory group, reviewed the Questar proposal, providing guidance and recommendations. Drilling year-round offers several benefits including: reducing by up to half the number of years required to fully develop the lease; reducing the total number of well pads from 150 to 61, and eliminating approximately 25,000 tanker truck trips annually during peak production. Questar has proposed to spend approximately $210 million in mitigation implementation.
The Questar drilling proposal would begin in the winter of 2004-2005 and continue for nine years. Questar proposed to construct a 107-mile long 6"-diameter pipeline to transport condensate and to coordinate the winter-drilling well pad locations with BLM and the WG&F. They will bus work crews to and from the winter pads to minimize traffic in the winter and they will utilize low emission engines on all their drilling rigs by 2007. In addition, Questar will implement habitat enhancement in a non-productive portion of their leasehold.
The BLM decision allows Questar to operate two drilling rigs on one pad during the winter of 2004/2005. After the company completes a proposed water- and condensate-gathering system during the summer of 2005, Questar will be allowed to operate six rigs from three active pads beginning in the winter of 2005/2006 through the winter of 2013/2014. Prior to the BLM decision, the company's Pinedale drilling operations were restricted to May through November due to concerns over potential impacts on wildlife.
According to Chuck Stanley, President and CEO of Questar Exploration and Production, "We will cut development time by about a decade, which will accelerate not just Questar revenues but also tax and royalty revenues for Wyoming. We will create stable, year-round jobs for Wyoming, and consumers in Wyoming and throughout the region will benefit from increased natural gas production at a time when supplies are tight and prices are near record levels."
Prill Mecham stated, "We coordinated closely with the Wyoming Governor's Office, the Wyoming Game & Fish (WG&F) and Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality on this proposal to develop a decision that provides a long-term benefit to deer and sage-grouse habitat." She added, “This is a model of cooperation between state and federal agencies, working together for the coexistence of energy development and wildlife needs."