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Front Page » June 1, 2004 » Opinion » Residents need to get going on their comments
Published 3,796 days ago

Residents need to get going on their comments


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate community editor

It seems there is never enough time in the day to do everything I want to and I am sure that others have the same problem. But there is one thing we should all do before this week is out and that is to comment on the Environmental Assessment (EA) that the Bureau of Land Management has done on the West Tavaputs drilling program proposed by the Bill Barrett Corporation (BBC).

The deadline is June 4, so we don't have much time.

The main document is large and most people would just pass by the details, so here is a summary of what it is about.

The EA is comprised of three alternatives; A, B, or C. The areas where all of the drilling sites will be located, except for one well location known as 27-3, are on top of the plateau. None of the well locations are in Nine Mile Canyon.

BBC proposes the following actions.

•To drill 12 vertical federal wells, three of which would be drilled from previously drilled but presently reclaimed well pads;

•To drill up to 10 vertical wells on new well pads on SITLA lands;

•Utilization of four well pads (either new well pads included in this analysis or existing well pads) to accommodate up to four directional wells each, depending upon the feasibility of directional drilling;

•Construct 6.4 miles of new road on federal surface and 0.35 miles of new road on SITLA surface to access proposed federal wells;

•Construct 1. 1 miles of new road on federal surface and 1.2 miles of new road on SITLA surface to access proposed state wells;

•Upgrade 2.6 miles of road on federal surface to access proposed federal wells;

•Upgrade 2.1 miles of road on federal surface and 2.0 miles of road on SITLA surface to access proposed state wells;

•Construct or replace 23.7 miles of pipeline on federal surface and 7.3 miles of pipeline on SITLA surface;

•Increase compression at each of the three compressor sites located in Dry Canyon, Sage Brush Flat, and Water Canyon.

Alternative "A" would accomplish all of the above listed actions, In addition most of the pipelines (a 12" and 16" pipeline) in the Nine Mile canyon area would be left on the surface. The total area of disturbance would be 171 acres, and would be associated with dry holes, pad reduction after drilling, and surface pipelines on the projected program area of 43,373 acres.

Alternative "B" is the No Action Alternative. Under the No Action Alternative, BBC would not be authorized to drill additional wells on federal surface or to access state surface or minerals over federal surface. Additional federal approvals would be required to drill on federal surface or minerals or to access state wells over federal surface.

Alternative "C" would allow the project to proceed as outlined in Alternative "A" however, it would further address and mitigate certain viable concerns in the EA including the following.

•Disturbance of cultural sites while constructing the new pipelines in the existing rightsof-way in Nine Mile Canyon from the Water Canyon compressor site to Cottonwood Canyon and along Dry Canyon;

•Visual impacts and noise associated with the compressor site expansion at the mouth of Water Canyon; and

Safety issues associated with a large-diameter (12" and 16") surface line adjacent to a public road.

Alternative "C" would mitigate these concerns by:

•Burying the pipelines (12" and 16" pipeline) in corridors free of cultural resources, in the bottom of both Nine Mile and Dry Canyon;

•Move the 27-3 well location from the sight in Dry Canyon to the top of the plateau;

•Eliminating the Water Canyon Compressor Station, and with technical upgrades could also eliminate the Sage Brush Flat Compressor Station;

•Allow burying of a small portion of pipeline through a wiJd horse trap site;

•BBC would also have an archaeologist on site during construction in the event a cultural site were to be encountered,

Alternative "C" would also increase the surface disturbance from 171 acres, to 258 acres, or .06% of the projected program area of 43,373 acres, due to the buried pipeline corridors in Dry Canyon and Nine Mile Canyon and by adding the additional access road on the plateau for the 27-3 well site.

Now I didn't read the entire document to get this synopsis. I wish I had that kind of time and patience. Some people at Carbon County helped me in understanding the three alternatives.

My thought, however, after studying this is that the "C' choice is the best. That is also the choice the county submitted in it's comments. They concluded that if Alternative "C" is chosen as the preferred alternative, the presence of oil and gas resource development in Nine Mile Canyon and the adjacent areas would actually be less than if Alternative "B", the No Action Alternative were selected. Additionally the oil and gas development will still be able to progress. With projected total production estimated at 2-3 billion cubic feet per well, or 44 to 66 billion cubic feet over the life of the project, Carbon County could anticipate an approximate income of 5.9 to 8.9 million dollars in royalty income and SITLA could expect 16 to 24 million dollars income on these wells over the life of the project. These projections do not take into consideration the amount that the State of Utah or the Federal Government would receive in their share of the royalty payment, or the additional expected revenues from conservation and property taxes to the county. This added income from just 12 additional production wells would foster and help promote the social, economic welfare of Carbon County, and with the projected income to the School and Trust Lands Administration from their 10 wells, it would be of significant benefit to education in Utah.

Of course the choice you make is yours, but people do need to comment on what they think is best after knowing all the facts.

Just remember it closes on Friday, and then there will be no chance to voice your opinion.


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