Jonah Field Plan Released

Pinedale, WY – There could be another 3,100 gas wells in the already heavily-drilled Jonah Field south of Pinedale. The Bureau of Land Management has just issued a draft proposal for future drilling in the Jonah Field. Compared to the 5-million acre Powder River Basin, the Jonah Field is tiny at 30,000 acres, but it holds 1/3 of the natural gas reserves. So, producers have asked the BLM to allow up to 3,100 more wells in the Jonah Field. BLM Project Manager Carol Kruse says their plan would allow that, but she notes they have some concerns about air quality impacts. She says there are already air quality issues because of Jonah, and at the pace of development proposed, there will be more impacts. Kruse says their plan aims to allow as much gas removal as possible, while still have protections like maintaining sage brush habitat and reducing human activity as much as possible. BLM is calling for the use of some directional drilling, favored by conservation groups because the impacts on the land are less widespread. Kruse says the producers involved, EnCana, BP, and others, did not want any directional drilling because of the expense involved. In the BLM's preferred alternative, 547 wells would have to be directional. Public comment is being accepted until April 12th.