Green River Basin study finds broad barriers to drilling


Maureen Lorenzetti
OGJ Online

WASHINGTON, DC, June 6 -- US Department of Energy officials told a National Petroleum Council meeting Wednesday that industry is even more restricted from drilling in the Rocky Mountains than was previously thought.

The council is a 175-member federal committee that advises the US Energy Secretary on oil and gas issues.

Working on a tract-by-tract basis, a team from the departments of Energy, Interior, and Agriculture spent 7 months studying federal lands in the Greater Green River Basin of Wyoming and Colorado.

It found that 68% of the area's technically recoverable natural gas resources, as much as 79 tcf, is either closed to development or under significant access restrictions. About 30% was completely off limits, while 39% was available with restrictions industry said are objectionable.

DOE said the findings conflict with data from environmental groups such as the Wilderness Society, which maintain industry already has wide access to most federal lands and restricted areas need continuing environmental protection.

"The Bush administration has created the myth that an oil and gas bonanza awaits us in our national forests if only we turn industry loose there," said Michael Francis, director of the national forest program for the Wilderness Society. "It's a fairy tale. Nor is it true that the industry has been denied access. Companies have exploited most of the roadless areas they thought had much potential, and the new roadless policy would have no effect on existing leases. This is much ado about nothing."

He said in Colorado, for example, roadless areas account for just 3% of the acreage with oil and gas potential, and only 2% of the roadless areas are under lease.

DOE, however, concurs with industry's argument that many areas that may be technically available for exploration are in effect off-limits because of constraints that may need to be revisited.

It said its forecasts show that by 2020 the US will need 50% more natural gas than today. And based on that information, the White House's National Energy Policy calls for a review of public land status and lease stipulations that may be impeding federal oil and gas exploration development.

DOE said that of the 39% of federal natural gas resources cited in Green River Basin, much of the area is restricted for 3 to 9 months to provide winter habitat for large game or to allow sage grouse or raptors to nest.

Gas estimates were obtained mainly from the US Geological Survey's 1995 national oil and gas assessment, which is being updated. Government geologists told the administration and Congress earlier this year they expect their new assessment to have higher reserve estimates because of technological advances in drilling and recovery. Data collection has also improved dramatically.

Nevertheless, DOE's latest analysis using USGS's outdated numbers show federal land is still much more restricted than what the NPC estimated in its December 1999 study on natural gas access. NPC put the figure at 40% for the region.

The Greater Green River Basin study was conducted in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service, and is part of a larger planned project to analyze gas resources under federal lands in the Rocky Mountain region.

DOE officials said they are now analyzing production on federal lands in Uinta and Piceance basins in Utah and Colorado.

Contact Maureen Lorenzetti at maureenl@ogjonline.com

Related Articles

BOEM publishes second final SEIS for 2008 Chukchi Sea lease sale

02/13/2015 The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management published a fresh supplemental environmental impact statement for a Chukchi Sea federal oil and gas sale o...

Alaska LNG project partners file resource reports with FERC

02/12/2015 A series of draft environmental and socioeconomic reports for the Alaska LNG project have been submitted to the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commis...

US House vote sends Keystone XL approval bill to Obama’s desk

02/12/2015 The US House of Representatives voted by 270 to 152 to pass S. 1, which would deem the proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline approved more than 6...

Groups object to White River National Forest draft leasing decision

02/12/2015 The Western Energy Alliance, West Slope Colorado Oil & Gas Association, and Public Lands Advocacy jointly filed a formal objection to the US Fo...

Five fatalities, four missing now confirmed following FPSO explosion offshore Brazil

02/12/2015 BW Offshore now reports five fatalities—all employees of BW Offshore—and four crew members missing following the Feb. 11 explosion of the Cidade de...

TransCanada challenges EPA’s comments on Keystone XL SEIS

02/11/2015 TransCanada Corp. responded to the Feb. 2 comment letter from the US Environmental Protection Agency on the US Department of State’s final suppleme...

New study finds wide variations in gathering systems’ methane samples

02/11/2015 Samples of methane emissions from 114 natural gas gathering stations and 16 processing plants across 13 states found wide variations in amounts act...

Operators cutting methane emissions

02/10/2015 Cuts in methane emissions from oil and gas production ought to be combined with aggressive efforts to curb excessive carbon dioxide releases, produ...

Emissions from liquid unloadings vary by region

02/10/2015 A recent study by the University of Texas at Austin and the environmental testing firm URS indicated that a small percentage of wells account for t...
White Papers

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by

The impact of aging infrastructure in process manufacturing industries

Process manufacturing companies in the oil and gas, utilities, chemicals and natural resource industri...
Sponsored by

What is System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis?

This paper will explain some of the fundamentals of System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis and demonstrate...
Available Webcasts

On Demand

Prevention, Detection and Mitigation of pipeline leaks in the modern world

Thu, Apr 30, 2015

Preventing, detecting and mitigating leaks or commodity releases from pipelines are a top priority for all pipeline companies. This presentation will look at various aspects related to preventing, detecting and mitigating pipeline commodity releases from a generic and conceptual point of view, while at the same time look at the variety of offerings available from Schneider Electric to meet some of the requirements associated with pipeline integrity management. 

register:WEBCAST


Global LNG: Adjusting to New Realities

Fri, Mar 20, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s March 20, 2015, webcast will look at how global LNG trade will be affected over the next 12-24 months by falling crude oil prices and changing patterns and pressures of demand. Will US LNG production play a role in balancing markets? Or will it add to a growing global oversupply of LNG for markets remote from easier natural gas supply? Will new buyers with marginal credit, smaller requirements, or great need for flexibility begin to look attractive to suppliers? How will high-cost, mega-projects in Australia respond to new construction cost trends?

register:WEBCAST


US Midstream at a Crossroads

Fri, Mar 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Mar. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on US midstream companies at an inflection point in their development in response to more than 6 years shale oil and gas production growth. Major infrastructure—gas plants, gathering systems, and takeaway pipelines—have been built. Major fractionation hubs have expanded. Given the radically changed pricing environment since mid-2014, where do processors go from here? What is the fate of large projects caught in mid-development? How to producers and processors cooperate to ensure a sustainable and profitable future? This event will serve to set the discussion table for the annual GPA Convention in San Antonio, Apr. 13-16, 2015.

This event is sponsored by Leidos Engineering.

register:WEBCAST


The Future of US Refining

Fri, Feb 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Feb. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on the future of US refining as various forces this year conspire to pull the industry in different directions. Lower oil prices generally reduce feedstock costs, but they have also lowered refiners’ returns, as 2015 begins with refined products priced at lows not seen in years. If lower per-barrel crude prices dampen production of lighter crudes among shale plays, what will happen to refiners’ plans to export more barrels of lighter crudes? And as always, refiners will be affected by government regulations, particularly those that suppress demand, increase costs, or limit access to markets or supply.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected