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BLM Begins Scoping Process For New Uinta Gas Drilling in Utah

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) said at the end of January it had begun the public scoping period for a proposed natural gas drilling project on federal lands in Duchesne County in northeast Utah, part of the Uinta Basin.

As part of its drilling work for Denver-based Gasco Energy, Houston-based Wapiti LLC is seeking BLM's approval to construct one well pad, including roads and pipelines in the area that is part of the larger, 10,000-acre Riverbend Project, which has some 20 to 30 existing wells nearby, according to BLM's Vernal, UT, field office.

BLM officials said they will use public input to determine "the relevant issues" considered in the planning, and that will influence the environmental review. BLM said the environmental assessment will be site-specific to the 4.2-acre plot.

The project area is about 26 miles south of Myton, UT. The well would be drilled at a new location, requiring about 1,080 feet of new road and 1,132 feet of new four-inch diameter above-ground gas pipelines.

"Written comments from the public will help determine the issues to be addressed in the environmental assessment," BLM said.

During the past three years, Gasco has obtained BLM approvals to drill nearly 1,300 wells in the Uinta over a 15-year period (see Shale Daily, Jan. 30, 2013). However, environmental groups have challenged BLM's approval, claiming it violated the National Environmental Policy Act because it "failed to do a complete analysis of the environmental issues."

Duchesne County has grown in relative importance within the Uinta Basin over the last several years. In 2011, a total of 348 oil and gas wells were spud in Duchesne County, versus 525 in adjacent Uintah County. However, in 2014, drilling activity in Duchesne County surpassed that in Uintah County, with operators in Duchesne spudding 433 wells versus 407 within its neighbor to the east. NGI estimates that Duchesne and Uintah counties account for more than 90% of total oil and gas production within the Uinta Basin.

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