Feds prep for first drilling in Pitkin County in 40 years
The U.S. Forest Service is seeking public comments on the first proposal to drill a natural gas well in Pitkin County in more than 40 years.EnCana Oil and Gas Inc. has applied to drill one exploratory gas well about 12 miles southwest of Carbondale. The drilling will occur late this summer or in the fall, depending on when the Forest Service issues a permit.If EnCana finds reserves that are economically feasible to produce, the Forest Service will perform another review of a broader plan to build a pipeline and other infrastructure needed for production. That study would occur in late 2004 and early 2005.”If the exploratory well is dry, or production is considered uneconomic, the well would be plugged, project-related equipment would be n see Drilling on page A6– continued from page A1removed, and any associated surface disturbance would be rehabilitated as necessary,” said a document released this week by the White River Forest supervisor’s office.First activity in PitcoEnCana’s activity marks the first sign that the natural gas boom that’s hit the West Slope in recent years, especially Garfield County, could spread into extreme western Pitkin County. That part of the county is considered to be on the fringe of the gas-rich Piceance Basin.EnCana is almost certain to receive a permit, even if public sentiment in environmentally friendly Pitkin County is against drilling. EnCana has a lease on forest land that has been identified by the Forest Service as suitable for exploration for minerals. In addition, the exploratory drilling is proposed in an area previously used for gas production. The proposed well is in the Wolf Creek Storage Field, an area that produced natural gas from 1960 to 1972.Second chance for small fieldIn an earlier interview, a spokesman for EnCana said the Wolf Creek field produced about 12 billion cubic feet of natural gas during its 12 years of production, qualifying it as a small field.After production, the Wolf Creek field was used during summers to store natural gas produced farther west. That gas was piped to customers in the Roaring Fork Valley during winters.EnCana plans to search for gas in a rock formation that isn’t as deep underground as the one tapped during its first dozen years of production, according to the company representative. It will search about 4,000 feet beneath the surface.Use old pad, existing roadThe new drilling would take place on an old pad cleared for the initial development of the gas field, according to Forest Service documents. No new pad would be cleared. The company will access the site using an existing road, Forest Service Road 300. It has applied to make improvements to that route.EnCana proposed to use a truck-mounted drill rig and a system that will contain fluids produced during the drilling process. Any produced gas would be flared, and the well would be temporarily closed if it proves successful.The Forest Service will accept public comments about the exploratory gas well through Aug. 16. Comments should be sent to Thomas Williams, NEPA Coordinator, White River National Forest, Supervisor’s Office, 900 Grand Avenue, P.O. Box 948, Glenwood Springs, CO 81602.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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Officials are investigating the source of a loud explosion at Smuggler Mine on Saturday morning.