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Double Eagle's Atlantic Rim Plan Gets Preliminary Approval

A federal environmental assessment (EA) of a plan to develop 51 coalbed methane (CBM) wells within the boundaries of Wyoming's Atlantic Rim, part of which is crucial winter range for pronghorn antelope and mule deer, has determined that there would be no significant impact from the development.

The report's finding of no significant impact (FONSI) and the decision record (DR) were issued by the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) Rawlins, WY, field office. The DR noted that more than 53,000 comments were received during the comment period from Jan. 27 to Feb. 11, "of which about 120 were substantive."

Denver-based Double Eagle Petroleum Co., which is one of the biggest gas producers in the Atlantic Rim area, filed its Catalina Plans of Development with BLM to drill 48 CBM gas wells and three water reinjection wells on 4,242 acres of public, private and state land about 35 miles southwest of Rawlins. In addition to developing new wells and well pads, Double Eagle also plans to construct roads, pipelines and utilities for the project.

The EA was required because portions of the project are within year-round crucial winter range for pronghorn antelope and mule deer. Following several years of study the BLM in May 2007 issued a record of decision (ROD) for the Atlantic Rim Final Environmental Impact Statement (see Daily GPI, May 22, 2007). However, the ROD for the Atlantic Rim Project Area (ARPA) has been challenged in court by environmentalists several times.

The ARPA, which comprises more than 270,000 acres of land in south-central Wyoming, has been under development by oil and gas producers since the 1950s. Ten years ago a consortium of producers that ultimately included Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Warren Resources and Double Eagle submitted a proposal to BLM to drill more than 3,880 gas wells in the area. The project is expected to produce 1.35 Tcf over its 30-50-year life span.

The EA for Double Eagle's project followed "and the DR adopts all mitigation measures, best management practices and operator-committed practices found in the Atlantic Rim Natural Gas Development Project Final Environmental Impact Statement and record of decision signed March 2007," BLM noted. "In addition, the DR restricts or halts development activities, construction and drilling within identified big game migration corridors during key spring and fall seasons."

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