Firm proposes to drill 35 wells over three years 12 miles north of Paonia
Gunnison Energy is proposing drilling up to 35 Mancos shale wells over the next three years about 12 miles north of Paonia, and adjacent to where SG Interests wants to drill 146 wells.
The Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service are accepting public comment on what’s being called the North Fork Mancos master development plan proposal.
The wells would be drilled down and then out horizontally from four new well pads and one existing pad. Three of the new pads are on national forest land, and the fourth would be on private land but reach nearby federally owned minerals. The project area covers nearly 35,000 acres in Gunnison and Delta counties, including nearly 26,000 acres of national forest land, 8,648 acres of private land and 468 acres of BLM-administered land, and the work would require up to 4.6 miles of new roads.
The project is the first phase of what Gunnison Energy says could be a 13-pad drilling program on the acreage, depending on factors such as the result of the initial drilling, natural gas prices, advances in drilling and completion technology, and environmental considerations such as air quality and water depletion.
SG Interests continues to await a final BLM decision on its 146-well Bull Mountain project, just east of the Gunnison Energy project. The BLM’s final environmental impact statement, released last year, identifies as its preferred alternative one that would allow the project to proceed.
Some North Fork Valley residents and organizations, including Citizens for a Healthy Community, have opposed the Bull Mountain project, and have called for a moratorium on area oil and gas development pending completion of the BLM’s new resource management plan for its Uncompahgre Field Office, based in Montrose. Activists fear increased local drilling could harm air and water and threaten local agritourism and organic-farm industries.
Energy companies argue they’ve already been drilling in the area safely. Gunnison Energy already has 21 well pads in or adjacent to the project area, and 15 producing wells, with another seven that are shut in.
Gunnison Energy says its proposed project could produce up to 700 billion cubic feet of natural gas over 30 years, worth $2 billion at current prices. That amount of gas would be about 2.6 percent of the 27.3 trillion cubic feet the United States currently consumes in one year.
The U.S. Geological Survey last year estimated the Mancos shale in western Colorado’s Piceance Basin holds 66 tcf of undiscovered, technically recoverable gas.
Gunnison Energy also plans to target shallower sandstone formations in the project.
The project is expected to have a workforce of 75 to 150 workers over the three years of construction, drilling and well completion, depending on whether one or two drilling rigs are in use.
Project access generally would be via Colorado Highway 133 and Gunnison County Road 265 southwest of McClure Pass.
More about the proposal can be found at http://bit.ly/2jkGD3K or http://www.fs.usda.gov/projects/gmug/landmanagement/projects.