From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 5, Number 26 - September 22, 2005
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Energy News

Energy independence urged

"America must learn and lead - especially in the wake of skyrocketing energy prices, Middle East conflict and the tragedy of the Hurricane Katrina disaster - to become energy independent and to do so with no more excuses, just decisive action," U.S. Senator Craig Thomas said in a speech to the Interstate Oil and Gas Commission in Jackson.

"It's not enough to talk about the future - we must act now with aggressive exploration of new technologies to achieve a more autonomous future. Wyoming is key to our national energy future and it is up to federal and state regulators to work cooperatively and with focus to help get the job done," said Thomas, one of the ranking members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

"In Wyoming, our people and families have suffered the economic boom-and-bust cycles that have dominated our history. With the passage of the Energy Policy Act, along with more key actions that must begin, we can finally take the steps we need to bring a more stable environment to our energy economy. I'm anxious to work with the members of the IOGCC and their partners to implement the needed changes - and urge them strongly to join me in taking action now," Thomas said.

The IOGCC is a multi-state government agency that champions the conservation and efficient recovery of domestic oil and natural gas resources while protecting health, safety and the environment. Established by the charter member states' governors in 1935, it is the oldest, largest and most effective interstate compact in the nation.

Winter drilling okayed

The Bureau of Land Management Field Office in Pinedale has approved a winter drilling project in the Pinedale Anticline, designed to reduce the impacts of energy development by consolidating drilling operations. The proposal would demonstrate the feasibility of developing 640-acre sections by drilling from a single pad. The project involves up to 52 wells drilled from a total of three pads. Seasonal restrictions to protect wildlife habitat would not apply to this project for one year.

The BLM issued the finding of no significant impact and the decision record for the ASU Year-Round Drilling Demonstration Project. Anschutz Pinedale Corporation, Shell Exploration and Production Company and Ultra Resources Inc - jointly referred to as "ASU"- proposed the ASU Year-Round Drilling Demonstration Project on ASU's leases within the Pinedale Anticline Project Area.

This project would be permitted from Nov.15, 2005, through July 31, 2006, with well completions starting May 1, 2006.

The PAPA Record of Decision allowed for a maximum average well pad density in management area 5 of four well pads per square mile and up to 16 well pads per square mile where pad drilling must be considered.

ASU proposes to conduct year-round drilling (for one winter only) in big game crucial winter range and greater sage-grouse breeding, nesting and wintering habitats in management area 5. The PAPA environmental impact statement did not evaluate impacts to big game or greater sage grouse from year-round drilling on winter ranges or in breeding, nesting and winter habitats. ASU is requesting that BLM not apply seasonal restrictions to permit approvals that would normally limit actions within big game winter range and sage-grouse nesting and early brood rearing habitat and winter concentration areas.

ASU has proposed to consolidate drilling infrastructure and operations onto fewer pads, resulting in less surface disturbance, less habitat fragmentation and a reduction in air emissions. The project seeks to use improved technology, better coordination of facilities and drilling schedules to reduce overall impacts. The proposed action would demonstrate the ability of the three operators to work cooperatively to jointly plan and employ infrastructure and implement new methods and technologies.

The BLM received 27 comment letters on the scope of the EA during the 20-day scoping period that ended Aug. 5. Public comments were analyzed and incorporated into this project where applicable. The decision record is subject to appeal. Under BLM regulation, this decision is subject to administrative review.

Copies of the EA/FONSI/DR will be made available in the Pinedale Field Office, located at 432 East Mill St., in Pinedale.

For more information on the EA, contact Matt Anderson at 307-367-5328.

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