BLM approves Year-Round Demo Project
September 24, 2005
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Field Office in Pinedale has approved a winter drilling project in the Pinedale Anticline, designed to reduce the impacts of energy development by consolidating drilling operations. The proposal would demonstrate the feasibility of developing 640-acre sections by drilling from a single pad. The project involves up to 52 wells drilled from a total of three pads. Seasonal restrictions to protect wildlife habitat would not apply to this project for one year.
The BLM issued the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) and the Decision Record (DR) for the ASU Year-Round Drilling Demonstration Project (EA). Anschutz Pinedale Corporation (Anschutz), Shell Exploration & Production Company (Shell) and Ultra Resources Inc. (Ultra) -- jointly referred to as "ASU"-- proposed the ASU Year-Round Drilling Demonstration Project on ASUís leases within the Pinedale Anticline Project Area (PAPA).
This project would be permitted from Nov.15, 2005, through July 31, 2006, with well completions starting May 1, 2006.
ASU proposes to conduct year-round drilling (for one winter only) in big game crucial winter range and greater sage-grouse breeding, nesting and wintering habitats in Management Area 5. The PAPA Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) did not evaluate impacts to big game or greater sage-grouse from year-round drilling on winter ranges or in breeding, nesting, and winter habitats. ASU is requesting that BLM not apply seasonal restrictions to permit approvals that would normally limit actions within big game winter range and sage-grouse nesting and early brood rearing habitat and winter concentration areas.
ASU has proposed to consolidate drilling infrastructure and operations onto fewer pads, resulting in less surface disturbance, less habitat fragmentation and a reduction in air emissions. The project seeks to use improved technology, better coordination of facilities and drilling schedules to reduce overall impacts. The Proposed Action would demonstrate the ability of the three operators to work cooperatively to jointly plan and employ infrastructure, and implement new methods and technologies.
Copies of the EA/FONSI/DR will be made available in the Pinedale Field Office, located at 432 East Mill St., in Pinedale.
BLM Pinedale Year-Round Drilling press release