Wyoming coalbed methane producers could soon be faced with limitations in the allowable volume of CBM water discharges. On May 30, Wyoming State Engineer Patrick Tyrrell met with the Wyoming Coalbed Methane Task Force in Casper to discuss water management strategies to deal with the tremendous volume of CBM water produced in the state.

Tyrrell recommended policy makers consider adding a time limit to commercial production of gas or a threshold water/gas ratio. This would require drilling permit holders to show cause how production characteristics, such as no gas, or a high water-to-gas ratio, should be allowed to continue. The presentation by the state engineer’s office, which regulates the use of ground water in the state, was one of several made to the task force, which is charged with making recommendations to the governor on the impact of CBM development on water production and use.

Tyrrell said also that new regulations could limit the volume of discharged CBM water “to the downstream capacity of the natural channel as determined by the state engineer or his authorized representative.” Gas producers would be in violation of the law if they discharged more water than the “downstream capacity of the natural channel into which the discharge occurs.”

An additional statute would stipulate that if the current capacity of a natural water channel is “diminished for any reason,” water authorities could order restoration work necessary to “achieve capacity” before CBM water could be discharged. Gas producers discharging or wanting to discharge CBM water would be required to direct the restoration work and also pay compensation to affected landowners.

The task force is slated to complete its report by Oct. 1.

To view the State Engineer’s complete presentation to the Coal Bed Natural Gas Water Task Force, see https://cbm.moose.wy.gov/documents/SEOStatuteandRegulationReview.pdf.

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