A large portion of western Colorado’s natural gas-rich Roan Plateau would become available for energy leasing and drilling under the Bureau of Land Management’s just-released preferred alternative.

The favored alternative in the Roan Plateau Draft Resource Management Plan and Environment Impact Statement would allow as many as 1,324 gas wells to be drilled on federal land over the next 15 to 20 years, said BLM spokeswoman Jamie Connell. BLM estimates gas production by new wells on BLM lands will be 1,523 Bcf. The drilling would occur at lower elevations where gas leasing and production already is underway.

The Roan Plateau rises 3,000 feet northwest of the town of Rifle, CO, in the gas-rich Piceance Basin. Approximately half of the 115-square-mile Roan Plateau consists of highlands located above dramatic cliffs, while the remainder of the area consists of lower elevations.

The draft plan would defer oil and gas leasing in the highlands (above the cliffs) until 80% of the wells that are predicted for the lower elevations are completed, according to Connell. It would allow 51 wells to be drilled above the cliffs at that time.

Interested parties have 90 days to comment on the BLM’s draft plan. For more information, go to www.roanplateau.ene.com.

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