The Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has issued an amendment to the draft White River Resource Management Plan for oil and natural gas development in northwestern Colorado's Piceance Basin over the next 20 years.

The draft plan amendment analyzes four alternatives for potential oil and gas development and proposes mitigation measures on the 1.7 million acres of federal leaseable minerals administered by the BLM's White River Field Office, which oversees oil and gas activity in Rio Blanco County, Southern Moffat County and a small part of northern Garfield County. The majority of the acreage overseen by the office is already leased for oil and gas development.

The plan amendment considers development alternatives ranging from 4,603 new wells on 550 new well pads to 21,200 new wells on 2,556 new well pads, as well as a number of possible mitigation measures to minimize impacts to wildlife and the environment.

Over the next 20 years, the BLM said oil and gas activities in this area of the Piceance Basin could produce 878 Bcf of natural gas annually and create as many as 8,000 jobs in northwestern Colorado.

The BLM has scheduled four open houses in Colorado in September to receive comments on the amended draft plan. The agency said it will accept public comments through Dec. 14. BLM said a final decision is expected in April 2014.

©Copyright 2012 Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in any form, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.