Obama Administration approves Anadarko major natural gas project for Uinta Basin in Utah; 3,675 new wells over next 10 years
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar approved a major natural gas project in Utah’s Uinta Basin. By signing the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Greater Natural Buttes Project, proposed by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Secretary Salazar approved up to 3,675 new gas wells in an existing gas producing area in Uintah County, Utah.
The decision follows a comprehensive public consultation and conservation stakeholder involvement effort that strove to balance energy production and environmental protection.
The project encompasses approximately 163,000 acres but will bring new surface disturbance to only 5% of that area (approximately 8,100 acres) as a result of the 1,484 well pads approved in the ROD, which would be drilled over a period of 10 years.
Water use is estimated to be 2.06 acre-feet per well. An estimated 7,571 acre-feet of fresh water will be required to drill and complete 3,675 wells or approximately 757 acre-feet each year for the projected 10-year drilling period. Recycling efforts will be implemented to reduce water use.
In 2011, US natural gas production grew by more than 7%—the largest year-over-year volumetric increase in history—and easily eclipsed the previous production record set in 1973.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) prepared the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) or the project in coordination with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Uintah County, which participated as formal cooperating agencies during the EIS process. The BLM also closely coordinated with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure their concerns were addressed.
As a result of a collaborative process among federal, state, local and tribal governments, Anadarko and the Utah conservation community, the project will implement best management practices in the project area to safeguard air quality and protect crucial big game winter range, sage-grouse and sage-grouse habitat, sensitive soils, visual effects and recreational use.
The process that led to today’s decision is also in line with President Obama’s Executive Order to coordinate the efforts of federal agencies responsible for overseeing domestic natural gas development.
The leases proposed for infill development in the FEIS have valid existing rights, some of which date back to the early 1950s. The total estimated cumulative disturbance, including the existing gas development and proposed project, would be 20,615 acres, or about 12.7% of the area.
The ROD was prepared after a 30-day waiting period on the FEIS, which was released on 5 April 2012.