The state held its first-ever public meeting about the issue of orphaned and idle gas wells Wednesday in Gillette.
The coal bed methane boom left more than a thousand potentially hazardous, abandoned wells on state and private lands in Wyoming, and landowners turned out in droves to learn about the Governor’s plan for plugging them.
A U.S. Geological Survey study shows that coalbed methane development has changed the chemistry of the surface water in parts of the Powder River. CBM wastewater was often discharged directly or indirectly into the stream.
The study analyzed three decades of data and determined that after extraction activities, the water contained more sodium and bicarbonate, which are compounds commonly found in CBM wastewater.
Report author Steve Sando says high sodium levels can be bad for irrigation, but he says the concentrations in the Powder River are not alarmingly high.
Luca Technologies, a Colorado-based biotechnology company focused on extracting natural gas from coal seams in Wyoming, has declared bankruptcy.
Luca began testing their “methane farming” method in the Powder River basin in 2006. Since then, they have faced regulatory and financial difficulties which have resulted in permitting delays, layoffs, and now, finally Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Methane farming generates natural gas by feeding nutrients to microbes in coal beds.
Federal land managers have rejected an application by a Colorado company to use bacteria to produce methane from northeast Wyoming coal beds.
The Gillette News-Record reported Thursday the Bureau of Land Management threatened to prosecute Luca Technologies Inc. for trespassing if it continued the work. The company says it will comply but disagrees with the decision and may sue.
The BLM acted after Luca refused to pay an additional $40,000 for the cost of processing the application, on top of $40,000 it paid previously.