Plans in works for 4,200 new gas wells in Wyoming

Encana and other companies preparing plan for 4,200 deep gas wells in central Wyoming

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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) -- Three companies expect within weeks to submit a plan to vastly increase the number of gas wells in central Wyoming and develop what could become one of the state's biggest gas fields.The targeted area in eastern Fremont County now has about 500 producing gas wells. Encana Oil & Gas, Noble Energy Inc. and ConocoPhillips are talking about adding some 4,200 deep gas wells in the remote sagebrush country about 30 miles east of Riverton.Encana is taking the lead on the project and will turn in a plan of development to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management within a few weeks, company spokesman Randy Teeuwen said.Plans for the drilling are still preliminary."We believe the Moneta Divide project has great potential to produce natural gas and provide jobs. But it's very early in the process," Teeuwen said Monday. "We're in Wyoming for the long haul and Moneta Divide is a long-term project."The project would cover some 400 square miles of mostly BLM land. The companies would tap deep, tight sand formations over 15 years of drilling, Teeuwen said.About 3,600 of the wells would be Encana's, or roughly the same scale as the company's planned Normally Pressured Lance development in the Upper Green River Basin in southwest Wyoming.The Normally Pressured Lance over 10 years would double the number of gas wells drilled in the Upper Green River Basin to date. The basin's Jonah and Pinedale Anticline fields ranked fifth and sixth in the U.S. for gas production in 2009. Encana is the main player in the Jonah Field.Wyoming as a whole ranked behind only Texas for gas production in 2009, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.Encana and partners were set to drill for gas in the Moneta area a few years ago. That project, which would have involved drilling 1,300 new gas wells, didn't advance after the BLM held a handful of public meetings on the project.The companies seemed to have difficulty gathering information about the project and kept changing their plans, said Chris Krassin, natural resource specialist for the BLM in Lander."It just never really got off the ground," Krassin said Tuesday.Encana has been in touch with him about its latest plans, he said.

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