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Williams to Triple Subsurface Drilling in Piceance Basin

Williams' exploration and production (E&P) business is expected to at least triple the number of its subsurface drilling locations in the Trail Ridge area of the northern Piceance Basin after winning approval of its application for 10-acre bottom-hole well density from the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission.

Under the approval, Williams will up its current drilling count in the basin to between 1,500 and 2,000 wells from its current count of 500 wells, the company said Wednesday. Acreage in the application primarily covers private lands, which already have surface-use agreements in place.

"Results from this new area are very promising," said Ralph Hill, senior vice president of Williams' E&P business. "We have 15 wells producing an average of 12 MMcf/d on a gross basis. Reduced well spacing below the surface allows us to more effectively develop this important new natural gas resource."

Williams will use directional drilling, allowing the company to drill multiple wells through a single surface location. The equipment used will "virtually eliminate natural gas flaring," Hill added.

The Trail Ridge area also is a candidate for Williams to apply new rig technology that ultimately reduces the size and number of surface locations needed to develop the reserves, the company noted. Other benefits include improved safety through automation; faster, quieter and more compact operations; and reduced emissions and vehicular traffic.

Williams contracted with a Tulsa-based company to operate 10 technologically advanced rigs in the Piceance Basin over a three-year period.

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