All but two of Encana Corp.'s 35 shut-in natural gas wells were back in service Tuesday in the Piceance Basin as the danger from the Pine Ridge fire along the Western Slope in Colorado continued to subside. The two remaining shut-in wells are "low-producing" and located in the north end of the Piceance, an Encana spokesperson told NGI.

For Encana, the amount of gas shut in since Friday amounted to barely 100 MMcf, which is a tiny fraction of the total production in Colorado, the spokesperson said. Most of the high-producing wells were brought back online Monday as the fire was brought more under control by a fire-fighting effort overseen by local authorities and the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

For the other major gas well operator in the area that has shut in a significant number of wells, a spokesperson for Black Hills Exploration and Production said it hopes to bring back half of its wells later this week. The spokesperson confirmed that 98 wells were still shut in on Tuesday.

Full containment of the Pine Ridge wildfire southwest of De Beque was expected this week as fire resources were expected to start trickling away to battle other regional blazes, according to local authorities as reported by Grand Junction, CO news media Tuesday. "Barring unforeseen changes in fire behavior or extreme weather, we should have containment by July 5," said Bill Hahnenberg, Pine Ridge incident commander with the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team.

Before it began to be controlled Monday, the Pine Ridge fire in western Colorado was responsible for destroying three outbuildings and threatening more than 250 homes. Last weekend it received a higher level incident command Saturday to manage threats to homes, transportation, gas/oil wells and wild horses, according to a report Sunday in the Denver Post.

"As a safety precaution for the community and our employees," a Black Hills spokesperson said the operating company shut in all 98 of its gas wells in the area and lowered pipeline pressures due to the Pine Ridge wildfire. "The majority of the wells were shut in remotely to protect personnel from exposure to the fire, and there has been no estimate yet on the impact to [our] production."

Last Friday more than 50 natural gas wells were shut in by three operators along the Western Slope in the Piceance Basin (see Daily GPI, July 2). In one case, wells were shut before operators were asked to do so by the BLM, according to the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.

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