Feds Approve Plan To Drill And Frack 5,000 New Oil Wells in The Powder River Basin Of Wyoming

Feds Approve Plan To Drill And Frack 5,000 New Oil Wells in The Powder River Basin Of Wyoming

GILLETTE, WYOMING– antelope grazing near a gas compressor station.

Denver Post via Getty Images

Wyoming oil and gas boosters succeeded a couple of weeks ago in pushing through Bureau of Land Management approvals for a huge project in the Powder River Basin that might see the drilling and fracking of 5,000 brand-new wells. The area is much better referred to as being house to America’s greatest coal mines– now in extreme decrease. It’s no surprise that state were excited to see a job approved before the anti-fracking Biden Administration might block it.

This is no kneejerk project. It was just after seven years of environmental analysis that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) signed, in late December, a Record of Choice to authorize the drilling on federal leases in Converse County in Wyoming.

The numbers are large: 5,000 wells, 1,500 well pads each large adequate to accommodate as much as 16 individual wells, plus new facilities entailing numerous miles of water and gas pipelines, electrical energy lines, and roads. The period of the task is to be 10 years.

The BLM has a heavy hand in this since the minerals they manage (that include oil and gas) lie underneath 64%of the total location despite the fact that they only manage about 6%of the surface area.

There is great promise in this project. Many new tasks, considerable new earnings to the state of Wyoming, and the basic positives of oil and gas jobs for the USA– more affordable energy for cars, trucks, homes and market.

But there are genuine risks that require to be explored including the extra greenhouse gas emissions. This two-part series checks out the pros and cons of the big 5,000 well advancement on public lands in Wyoming.

First, let’s look under the hood. What formations consist of the oil and the gas?

The map in Figure 1 shows Converse County belongs to the Powder River basin. Coalbed methane in the exact same basin remained in its prime time in the early 2000 s with over twenty-four thousand wells drilled, but the play busted when the price of gas crashed in2009

The shale gas transformation, which led to the US becoming self-sufficient in oil and gas for the first time given that 1947, rode on the back of a brand-new innovation: a long horizontal well fracked many times along its length.

Figure 1.


Powder River Basin.

The Powder River basin in Wyoming is a potential shale-oil play. It has 5,000 feet of stacked pay– layers that contain oil and gas– which is an enormous density. In this one respect the resource is similar to the Permian basin which has about 2000 ft of stacked pay. These thickness numbers are much greater than a lot of other oil and gas plays in the USA. Partially because of this, some huge business such as EOG and Devon leapt in to stake their claim before any of the play was established.

The Resource.

The USGS examined the Reverse County resource(Figure 1) and came up with 142 million barrels of recoverable oil. This is small-fry compared with the Delaware basin in Texas and New Mexico which at 46 billion barrels is the cherry of all shale oil plays in the United States. For natural gas, the Reverse resource is 2.1 trillion cubic feet compared to 281 trillion cubic feet in the Delaware. However let’s not forget that Reverse is simply one county.

The business associated with the job are EOG Resources, Devon Energy.
, Occidental Petroleum Corp., Chesapeake Energy Corp.
(coming out of bankruptcy court), and Northwoods Energy.

EOG, a carefully handled business, produced 20 million barrels of oil in 2019 and was the leading producer in Wyoming.

Even though the BLM has actually signed the Record of Choice, operators will have to apply for well allows that will be based on their own regional website reviews.

The play.

The stacked play idea suggests you can produce oil from two or more layers at the very same time, using the devices on just one drilling pad. The operator group are preparing for as much as 16 close-spaced wellheads on each big drilling pad, and this indicates accessing to at least 2 and possibly a number of various layers.

In the Cretaceous group of strata, in the southern part of the basin, each of the following layers are possible targets for the brand-new technology of long horizontal wells and numerous fracs (noted by increasing depth):

Mesaverde formation.

Sussex-Shannon sandstones.

Niobrara carbonate.

Wall Creek-Turner sandstones.

Frontier sandstones.

Mowry shale.

The Niobrara is the source rock, indicating where the oil initially came from, and varies in depth from 6000– 10,000 ft.

The Wyoming State Geological Study are in the middle of all this. The BLM’s ecological impact document listed 10 different stacked play targets, consisting of some from above that have actually been subdivided … The Frontier, Muddy, Mowry, Niobrara, Parkman, Shannon, Sussex, Teapot, Tekla, and Turner developments.

” Although the Turner Sandstone and the equivalent Frontier (particularly, the Wall Creek Sandstone) are some of the more respected reservoirs in the Powder River Basin, horizontal drilling practices and production from all of these non-traditional tight sand and shale tanks are what increased Wyoming’s 2019 oil production to levels not seen given that1991 Petroleum production from the Powder River Basin consistently increased by more than 20 percent year-to-year from 2017 through 2019,” according to Ranie Lynds of the Study.

The brand-new technology.

The shale-type technology has worked in numerous fields in the United States, it is hard to see it not being made to work by top United States experts such as EOG, Devon and Occidental. In essence a horizontal well up to two miles long is drilled into a single layer, and then fracked by as numerous as 40 different operations.

Each fracking operation includes pumping high pressure thin down a well with adequate pressure to break up the shale or sandstone or whatever sort of tight rock it is. Sand is threaded into the water to keep the fractures open after the pumping operation is complete so the oil or gas molecules can flow along the fractures to the well.

In essence, the fracking operations have actually developed a reservoir of cracks around a horizontal well in a place where native permeability is close to absolutely no. If you make your own tank, and it consists of enough oil and gas under sufficient pressure, you will have a successful well.

In my next piece I’ll dive deeper into the benefits and drawbacks of drilling in the Powder River Basin.

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