ExxonMobil Corp. subsidiary XTO Energy Inc. on Thursday received a green light from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to pursue three-year-old plans for drilling up to 175 natural gas wells in the Uinta Basin of Utah.

An environmental assessment (EA) and record of decision were issued by BLM’s Utah office for the Horse Bench Natural Gas Development Project.

The project is to be done on 6,565 acres of federal and state lands in Carbon County, where XTO plans to drill from 16 well pads.

The EA supported the finding that no environmental impact statement was needed for the project, which is about 36 miles from Price.

Horse Bench is in the West Tavaputs Plateau in the Desolation Canyon area, considered one of the largest roadless areas managed by BLM. XTO’s project is to include access roads and natural gas gathering pipelines.
XTO has been working in Utah for several years. In 2011, it acquired leases in a quarterly BLM auction and more acreage in a state sale. According to its filings with BLM, XTO indicated it now works across 381,000 acres in Utah, with 90 employees helping to produce an estimated 46 MMcf/d.

Assuming the Horse Bench wells are productive, the project has an anticipated life span of 30 years, BLM noted. Final well abandonment and reclamation indicated XTO is committed to “specific environmental protection measures designed to reduce impacts to existing resources, and are integral to this decision.”