Hoback Gas Well Project
The Bridger-Teton National Forest is allowing drilling in the northern Wyoming Range and Hoback River drainage on the Big Piney Ranger District.
Bison graze in the Hoback River Valley-Noble Basin.
Horse Creek Road
Traffic plans are to route access via the Horse Creek Road west of Daniel Junction.
Notice of Staking just first step in the process
by Dawn Ballou
September 23, 2005
Plains Exploration and Production Company, out of Houston, Texas, filed a Notice of Staking with the Bridger-Teton National Forest (BTNF) on September 8, 2005 for plans to do a wildcat well in the Noble Basin near the Hoback River, south of Bondurant.
The Big Piney Ranger District made the Notice public earlier this week and posted it on the BTNF website. Three gas wells, and several sections of new road construction, are proposed for the drill site project.
According to the Big Piney Ranger District, the Notice of Staking is just the first step in the process to notify the government and public the operator has plans to start activity on the lease.
The next step in the process is for the District to set up a meeting with the operator within a month to reply to the Notice. District personnel plan to meet with the operator in early October. The Forest Service will then start work on a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) document to study environmental impacts for the project.
Studies for the NEPA document will be conducted through the 2006 field season. The document will either be an Environmental Assessment (EA) or an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) if there are more significant resource issues identified to be analyzed. This document is done by a third party contractor, approved by the Forest Service, but technically paid for by the operator. Public input will be included as a part of the NEPA document process. The final report will likely be available sometime next fall or winter, after field work is completed in 2006. Some field work for the project was already done this past summer by District personnel, who were made aware of the wildcat well project in June.
After the NEPA document is completed, an Application for Permit to Drill (APD) must be approved by the Bureau of Land Management, which controls federal mineral resources even though they are located on National Forest land. The APD includes a recommendation by the Forest Service about the project, based on their NEPA analysis.
According to maps in the Notice of Staking, Plains Exploration plans to access this well site using the Horse Creek Road #354 from the Daniel Junction to Merna, over Beaver Ridge on Road #10359, up North Beaver Creek Road #10143, then over South Rim on Road #30748 to the Coyote Gulch/Muddy Creek drainages.
The proposed wells are within two miles of private land to the east in the Fisherman Creek drainage and three miles from private land to the west along the Hoback River.
Road access will direct well activity traffic past many ranches, the new Rendezvous Ridge subdivision, through the Jim Bridger Estates on Beaver Rim, by the Aspen Ridge subdivision, and past Buck Baker's corner before reaching National Forest land in the South Beaver Creek drainage.
A PDF of the Notice of Staking, which includes several maps and diagrams related to the project, is available from the Bridger-Teton National Forest website at: Plains Exploration and Production Co. Eagle #1-8 Notice of Staking
This is the first official Notice of Staking for the Noble Basin/Hoback River area that the Big Piney Ranger District has received this summer, however other operators have indicated an interest in the Kilgore Creek drainage on the west side of the Hoback River.
New leasing activity in the Wyoming Range was put on hold by BTNF Forest Supervisor Kniffy Hamilton last year after considerable public concern was raised about new drilling in the Wyoming Range. The Forest addressed the issues and concerns and lifted the drilling hold last spring, according to the Big Piney District.
Other Drilling Lease plans for the Wyoming Range
The Bridger-Teton National Forest has green-lighted leasing permits in the Hoback River basin, the South Rim Area, Beaver/Horse Creek drainages, North Cottonwood Creek, South Cottonwood Creek and South Piney Creek, which will be made available by the BLM at their lease sale this coming October.
For more information
Anyone who would like to be kept informed about developments in this particular project, or any other project on the Big Piney Ranger District, can contact the District to be put on the project mailing list. Contact Teresa Trulock, or Big Piney District Ranger Greg Clark, at the district office at 315 S. Front Street (Hwy 189), PO Box 218, Big Piney, WY 83113, 307-276-3375.