Niobrara Briefs

BLM begins EIS work in Powder River basin

The US Bureau of Land Management has begun preparing an environmental impact statement for a plan to drill roughly 5,000 wells on federal and state lands in Converse County, Wyo.

The plan, proposed by Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Chesapeake Energy Corp., RKI Exploration & Production LLC, Samson Resources Corp., EOG Resources Inc. and SM Energy Co., calls for drilling the wells during a 10-year period in an area encompassing 1.5-million net acres in the southern Powder River basin.

Wyoming Oil & Gas Conservation Commission data show that the largest producing formation in Converse County is the Niobrara shale, followed by the Sussex, Parkman, and Frontier.

Converse County production has increased in recent years as producers utilize new drilling techniques to tap into previously uneconomic formations. In 2013, output rose to 22,000 b/d of oil and 62.9 MMcfd of gas from 14,639 b/d of oil and 35.3 MMcfd of gas in 2012.

The project would be developed with directional, vertical, and horizontal wells and involve the constuction of production infrastructure, including well pads, roads, pipelines, power lines, compressors, and electrical substations.

The companies are seeking to drill year-round and requested exemptions to timing restrictions designed to protect area wildlife.

"Without this waiver, the application of timing limitations would force members of the operator group to move drilling rigs in and out of areas during portions of the year, which would increase operations costs, decrease efficiencies, and potentially increase impacts to wildlife and other sensitive resources," the operators said in their application.

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