Houston-based independent Ultra Petroleum Corp. in a joint application with Shell on Tuesday obtained approval from the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC) for additional 10-acre down-spacing to increase drilling on the Pinedale Anticline.

Ultra, the third largest coalbed methane operator in Wyoming after EnCana Corp. and BP plc, said the approval is for 10-acre drilling spaced on two areas totaling 16.3 square miles on the Anticline. Currently, the two areas covered by the application are a mix of 40-acre, 20-acre and 10-acre equivalent density. With the drilling approval, Ultra said 1,043 wells may be drilled within the two application areas. To date, 174 wells have been drilled within these areas. Of the 1,043 wells, Ultra will own an interest in 947 and will operate 724; Shell is joint owner and operator.

“This is another positive step forward on the continuation of our increased density drilling efforts in Pinedale,” said Ultra CEO Michael D. Watford.

It wasn’t that long ago that Ultra had to fight to obtain 10-acre spacing for its drilling projects on the Pinedale. Just over a year ago, the WOGCC denied Ultra’s application for increased density drilling there as the commission awaited additional data from 10-acre pilot wells that had been drilled by Shell (see Daily GPI, May 12, 2005).

The drilling density requirements in Wyoming had been at 40-acre spacing since 1986. However, a month before Ultra made its application to the WOGCC last year, EnCana obtained approval to reduce well spacing in the Jonah field to 10 acres (see Daily GPI, April 8, 2005). EnCana is now testing pilot wells for five-acre spacing in the Jonah field.

©Copyright 2006Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news reportmay not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in anyform, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.