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BLM Issues Scoping of Draft EIS on Wyoming Gas Projects

The federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has issued a notice of intent (NOI) to prepare an environmental impact statement and related scoping process for two combined Rockies gas exploration and development plays planned by Devon Energy Corp. and BP, covering potentially up to 8,950 new natural gas wells in what the BLM has designated as the "Continental Divide-Creston Natural Gas Project."

The companies approached BLM with separate, but geographically related projects last year, and the federal agency combined them for the purpose of development of an environmental assessment last December.

The potential new field involves several hundred coal-bed natural gas wells and up to 1.1 million acres of mixed federal, state and private lands within the boundaries of BLM's Rawlins office. The wells are slated to be developed by both vertical and directional drilling techniques, BLM's written notice said.

With a 60-day EIS scoping period, BLM said the deadline for written comments is May 5, and the scoping notice is available on the agency website (www.wy.blm.gov/). An open house and public meeting to gain input on the EIS will be held April 6 in Rawlins, WY.

Last April, Devon filed with BLM on behalf of itself and other leaseholders a combined proposal to drill and develop up to 1,250 wells and associated facilities as the "Creston/Blue Gap II Natural Gas Project" near Rawlins in Carbon and Sweetwater Counties, WY. Last November, BP America Production Co., representing itself and 19 other leaseholders, filed more extensive plans to drill and develop up to 7,700 wells and associated facilities in a similar area (called the Continental Divide/Wamsutter II Natural Gas Project).

Following a review of the BP proposal, BLM combined it with the earlier Devon plans, determining that "an EIS is necessary to process the combined Continental Divide-Creston project" that includes up to 8,950 natural gas wells, including 100 to 500 coal-bed methane wells.

Proponents anticipate a 15-year construction period with a 30- to 40-year life for the project development and operational period. The project is located about 25 air miles from Rawlins, and there are no estimates at this stage on the overall potential gas resources, a Houston-based BP spokesperson said. Seismic testing is still needed to determine more precise locations for the wells that will be drilled, the spokesperson said.

"This project would meet the goals and objectives of [the Bush Administration's] National Energy Plan, which includes diversifying domestic energy supplies, improving and accelerating environmental protection, and strengthening America's energy security," said a BLM spokesperson.

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