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Pinedale Online > News > November 2008 > Pinedale Anticline updates

Typical Water Disposal Well. Photo by Ultra Resources.
Typical Water Disposal Well
Graphic courtesy Ultra Resources

Total Dissolved Solids. Photo by Ultra Resources.
Total Dissolved Solids
Graphic courtesy Ultra Resources
Pinedale Anticline updates
Ultra Resources, Shell and Questar companies report on activities with the approval of the Record of Decision
by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
November 25, 2008

Representatives from Ultra Resources, Shell and Questar met with us recently to give an update on where things are at with their companies now that the Record of Decision (ROD) for gas drilling and development on the Pinedale Anticline has been approved.

Tab McGinley, Land Manager for Ultra Resources gave background information:

The companies initiated the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement with the Bureau of Land Management in 2005 and the Record of Decision was approved in September 2008. "It gives year-round access in concentrated areas, not year round access throughout the entire area," McGinley said. "We did need that access to operate responsibly and efficiently."

"We do feel that the BLM, Wyoming Game & Fish, Wyoming DEQ and the Governor’s Office did enhance our proposal. The spatial development was in cooperation and a lot of consultation with Wyoming Game & Fish. The regulatory agencies do endorse it. It defines a better way to operate that embraces practically all industry Best Practices in a Rocky Mountain setting. Now that the ROD has been published, we finally get to do what we said we would do. We have been almost immediately transitioning to this better way of doing things," McGinley said.

Highlights of what the companies have been doing recently:

- Meetings The companies have been meeting with the BLM regarding the implementation of the ROD and to discuss annual planning and the 10-year rolling plan.

- Mitigation and Monitoring Fund The escrow document is being finalized by the Wyoming Game & Fish and should be out in the next few weeks. The foundation is the Wildlife Heritage Foundation of Wyoming. The Initial contribution under the proposal was $4.6 million. That funding is based on $7,500 per well. Once the escrow document is done, the three operators will be contributing in excess of $8 million, because of the timing between the initial proposal and now.

- Liquids Gathering System Questar’s LGS system has been in place for three years now, eliminating nearly 45,000 truck trips and 100 storage tanks. Ultra and Shell have been working on getting the rights-of-way in order for their LGS pipelines. They are in the process of submitting their plans to the BLM. Once approved, their existing wells will be hooked up to the LGS by September 2010. The LGS will handle the produced water and condensate. The natural gas will be handled in the same manner as it is now. Condensate is about 5% of the production and revenue stream on the Pinedale Anticline.

- Lease Suspensions Their application for 45,000 acres of lease suspensions have been submitted to the BLM, which is processing those.

- NOx and VOCs – Air Quality and Ozone Concerns The companies are upgrading their rig fleets to comply with the reduction of NOx emissions. They anticipate the LGS will significantly reduce the VOCs. The companies are in different levels of modifying their rig fleets, not only with the engines, but "fit to purpose" rigs which will significantly reduce trucking. A lot of these rigs are able to drill up to eight wells without having to bring in 50 to 70 trucks to move the rigs. All three companies are putting NOx emission control devices on the diesel engines on their drill rigs. These devices should reduce NOx by around 95% from the engines. Shell has one rig outfitted now with an order in for seven more devices to install on other wells. Questar is field testing their control devices now on Tier II engines and getting 90-95% reductions. John Bickley, Development Manager for Shell said, "We are all working to accelerate the reduction of NOx."

The companies said that DEQ will be issuing ozone alert advisory forecasts when weather conditions indicate there is the chance for ozone formation based on weather conditions. Everyone will be watching to see what happens with the ozone levels. The companies have been working on Ozone Contingency Plans as a requirement of the ROD. These plans include a lot of pre-planning which involves training employees and contractors about ozone and how it is formed.

Jim Sewell, Senior Staff Environmental Engineer for Shell Exploration & Production Company said, "We will audit facilities with infared cameras in February and March to make sure everything is tight and make sure systems are working properly." They have created a notification tree within their organizations and to their main contractors on things they can do on an immediate basis, like rescheduling a maintenance activity to another day and reducing truck engine idling, as preventative activities to help reduce emissions. Ultra is converting their trucks from diesel to gasoline. They have also changed to fueling vehicles in the evenings instead of the mornings.

- Water Quality The industrial water wells are at far deeper levels than where the domestic and stock wells are located. The companies are working with the Wyoming DEQ and Sublette County Conservation District to monitor their industrial water wells. Ultra plans to have an independent consultant who will also be testing their water wells. Water wells are now capped and locked to ensure the wells are not accessed for unauthorized use.

Click here for a graphic showing a "typical" water disposal well on the Pinedale Anticline (574K PDF). This graphic shows the depth relationship between livestock and domestic water wells and injection disposal wells. "This map is geared towards describing a water disposal well, which is about a mile deep, but it does show where the water supply wells are shown depth-wise in relation to the water disposal wells," said Tab McGinley with Ultra Resources. (Graphic courtesy Ultra Resources)

Map Graphic:
1. The map shows the many impermeable barriers to water migration. Shales, siltstones and clays are shown in gray and brown; sandstones are tan/yellow.

2. Ground water is at shallow depths. Hydrocarbons are being extracted from sandstones in deeper horizons. Produced water is being injected into the Ft Union. Natural gas and condensate is being extracted from the Lance formation.

3. Because of these impermeable shale, siltstone and clay barriers, it is virtually impossible for water in the Ft. Union and Lance formations to migrate up to where the groundwater is situated. Note the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) measurement on the right-hand side of the map;

Click here for another chart which quantifies TDS levels for humans and livestock (Graphic courtesy Ultra Resources, 684K PDF)

- Public Concerns Anytime anyone has a question or concern, all three companies said they welcome phone calls or for people to come into their local offices and talk with them, look at maps, or talk to company engineers. "We’ll find the time to get them in and answer their concerns," said Belinda Salinas, Manager or Environmental, Safety and Regulatory Affairs with Ultra Resources. Kevin Williams, District Manager with Questar said, "Call us up and we’ll go out and show you what we’re doing out there."

Company Representatives toll-free contact phone: 1-877-526-1007

Belinda Salinas Manager, Environmental, Safety & Regulatory Affairs
Ultra Petroleum
225 E. Magnolia Street
Pinedale, WY 82941
(307) 367-6442

Tab McGinley Land Manager
Ultra Petroleum
304 Inverness Way South, Suite 295
Englewood, CO 80112
(303) 645-9816

Deena McMullen Senior Communications Advisor (until Dec. 18, 2008)
Shell Exploration & Production
4582 S. Ulster Street Parkway, Suite 1400
Denver, CO 80237
(303) 222-6348

John Bickley Development Manager
Shell Exploration & Production
4582 S. Ulster Street Parkway, Suite 500
Denver, CO 80237
(303) 305-7577

Jim Sewell Senior Staff Environmental Engineer, EP Americas
Shell Exploration & Production Company
4582 S. Ulster Street Parkway, Suite 500
Denver, Colorado 80237

Emily Kelley Communications Specialist
Questar Exploration and Production
1050 17th Street, Suite 500
Denver, CO 80265
(303) 308-3623

Kevin Williams District Manager
Questar Exploration and Production

Related Links
  • - Pinedale SEIS
  • Pinedale BLM - Bureau of Land Management
  • Oil and gas companies finding innovative ways to reduce pollution from Wyoming operations - (, AP, November 24, 2008)
  • New system helps control NOx for Shell drill rigs - By Johnson Matthey, Pinedale Online, October 28, 2008
  • Pinedale Online > News > November 2008 > Pinedale Anticline updates

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