From the pages of
Pinedale Roundup
Volume 105, Number 5 - January 31, 2008
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Jonah Field man camp approved

by Alecia Warren

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced on Tuesday that it has approved EnCana Oil and Gas’ proposal to construct a man camp on public lands just south of the Jonah Field. EnCana plans to deconstruct the Big Piney man camp and rebuild it on the approved lot.

A little late on the decision it had predicted to reach in October, the BLM concluded after compiling an Environmental Assessment that a man camp on the Jonah location would raise minimal impacts, as it wouldn’t occupy a crucial winter range or sage grouse leks.

“There are a number of things that played into how long the decision took,” said Kellie Roadifer, Team Leader at the Pinedale BLM Office. “We had a lot of other priorities that the staff in the office was working on — the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, processing regular applications for permits to drill. That’s a big workload for people. We just didn’t have time to spend on the man camp.”

The news is long awaited by EnCana, which proposed last summer to take apart the portable housing units of the 240-person camp and truck them to the gas field. “For us, it’s a little late in the year to actually get some of the infrastructure we need to get in before we move the camp,” said En-Cana spokesperson Randy Teeuwen of constructing roads and pipeline on the Jonah lot before the move. “We’re thrilled we can get started as soon as the weather allows. We’re doing plans now to make sure we can do the surface work right away, so the business part will begin, but the rest has to wait.” Teeuwen predicted the move would only take a few weeks, as the segmented housing units are specifically designed for easy deconstruction and transportation.

The Big Piney man camp, also known as the EnSign man camp, will move to a 20.5-acre lot south of the Bridger Compressor Station in the Jonah Field, and remain there for the next 10 years.

Once the current housing units are constructed on the lot, EnCana will expand the camp to house 350 workers, though the company doesn’t necessarily know if the crews will ever expand to such a number.

The camp currently only houses just over 100 employees, all EnSign roughnecks contracted to operate EnCana’s fit-for-purpose rigs that drill year-round.

The public commentary session for the move that ended on Oct. 15 revealed widespread support. The most enthusiastic comments were submitted by the man camp roughnecks, who complained that the hourlong drive from the Jonah Field to the man camp tested their fatigue after 12-hour shifts. The commute also wove through unlit Highway 351, where during the winter black ice and lack of visibility are just as likely to cause a wreck as wildlife crossing the road.

“For us, it’s all about safety, safety, safety,” Teeuwen said, adding that Big Piney locals have called EnCana about the dangers from the 100 pickups speeding down the highway between shifts. “We’re taking traffic off the roads, we’re giving these guys who are staying at the facility an extra two hours in their day so they can rest, relax, recreate. When they’re well rested and more relaxed, that provides a better safety environment for the crews.”

Teeuwen said that word of the move has already spread through the ranks at the camp, and the workers can’t wait. “It’s going to be a benefit for the work force, a benefit for the community, and a benefit for EnCana,” he said. “It’s a win, win, win, all the way around.”

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