From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 34 - November 20, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Jonah infill alternatives proposed

by Cat Urbigkit

The Bureau of Land Management's Jonah infill drilling project's open house last week in Pinedale had a great turnout by workers associated with the development project.

The meeting was the BLM's opportunity to reveal the proposed alternatives that will be examined in an upcoming environmental impact statement.

For each alternative, the EIS will examine a range of well numbers, from 1,250 to 3,100, as well as a range of pace of development, with the range from 75 wells per year to 250 wells per year.

The level of disturbance will be analyzed in the EIS also. The existing level of disturbance is 14 percent of the area, and the EIS will examine a range of disturbance between 14 and 67 percent. It should be noted that this range of disturbance is for initial disturbance, not long-term, which would fall into the 5-20 percent range.

As a connected action, the Jonah project area boundary will be expanded to include half of one new section: the north half of Section 23, T28N, R109W.

The BLM will also examine a proposal to pave the Burma Road as part of its analysis.

The BLM emphasized that its authority is restricted to managing surface disturbance on lands under its jurisdiction and that regulation of downhole spacing, air and water quality and wildlife populations falls within the jurisdiction of other state agencies.

In addition to the no action alternative, the EIS will look at the current proposed action, which would allow 40 to 45 well pads per section (one well pad every 14-16 acres). This alternative calls for approximately 250 wells to be drilled per year and would allow for downhole spacing of one wellbore every 20 acres in some areas, and every 10 acres in some cases.

Alternative A would allow for 1,250 to 3,100 wells, but no new well pads. Spacing would be 16 pads per section (one well pad every 40 acres).

Alternative B would allow for 1,250 to 3,100 new wells, with 1,250 to 3,100 new well pads. There would be no limit on the number of well pads per section and the downhole spacing could provide for one wellbore every 5-20 acres.

Alternative C will examine allowing 1,250 to 3,100 new wells, from 755 to 3,020 new well pads. This alternative will include provisions for 16, 32 and 64 well pads per section (one well pad every 40, 20 and 10 acres). The downhole spacing would be for one wellbore every 5 to 20 acres.

The BLM is currently accepting public comments on the alternatives.

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