Montana BLM okays plan to extend Bowdoin gas field output

Nick Snow
Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 9 -- A decision to drill new and replacement wells at a rate equal to the retirement of no longer productive wells will keep the Bowdoin natural gas field active for another 35-50 years, the US Bureau of Land Management said on Dec. 5.

BLM officials in Montana announced a finding of no significant impact as they approved a proposed alternative with additional mitigation for the project by Fidelity Exploration & Production Co. and five other producers who want to drill within one of Montana's oldest gas fields.

They said that the field, which has been active from the 1930s and has about 1,450 wells, generally straddles the line between Phillips and Valley counties south from the Canadian border to US Highway 2.

"Production from some wells that were drilled in the 1940s would be restored by drilling new replacement wells from the original drilling pads. In other instances, areas within the field that were previously passed over would be tapped to increase productivity," said Donato Judice, supervisor in BLM's Great Falls office.

Approved project components include up to 635 wells on individual sites; construction of new access roads and associated facilities, upgrading and use of existing roads; disposal of produced water with evaporation ponds at each well site; use of solar, wind, and gas-fired engines as external power sources, and installation of electric power lines on a site-specific, case-by-case basis, and use of remote electrical devices to measure temperature, pressure and well flow at each well site, the decision said.

Fidelity E&P is a division of MDU Resources Group Inc. of Bismarck, ND, a holding company which also operates oil and gas pipelines and electric and gas utilities from Minnesota to Oregon and Washington.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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