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Despite the lingering low price of natural gas this past year, gas developers are still hedging their bets on Wyoming as a place where gas production will continue to increase.

The Rocky Mountain region, with Wyoming leading the charge, produced a record 5.6 trillion cubic feet of gas in 2009, according to industry sources.

Although there was drastic slowdown in drilling in Wyoming in 2009, some key investments point toward continued growth here. Kern River Pipeline, El Paso Corp. and TransCanada Corp. each are moving forward with major natural gas pipeline expansions. Together, these three projects will increase the region’s gas export capacity from the current 8 billion cubic feet per day to about 10 Bcf per day within the next couple of years.

Operators aren’t making any promises, but the additional pipeline export capacity could easily be filled by several “infill” and new gas plays – some of which have been on the drawing board for years. Six proposed gas developments under analysis by Wyoming Bureau of Land Management could open the door to 17,555 new gas wells.

A seventh project expected to be submitted by EnCana Oil & Gas USA would surround the current Jonah gas field with another 3,500 wells.

And there are more. While gas producers remain skittish about whether their proposals will come to fruition, federal regulators continue to push the projects through the environmental analysis process.

Wyoming BLM deputy state director and resource policy manager Bill Hill said all of the projects have been held up by new Environmental Protection Agency mandates to analyze emissions of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants. Hill said Devon Energy and BP America are close to fulfilling the requirement for their combined Continental Divide-Creston (infill) Project surrounding Wamsutter.

Their modeling should provide a template and speed up the process for the BLM and other operators who must meet the EPA requirements.

“The Continental Divide (Creston Infill project) is furthest along,” Hill said. “Emissions are holding up all of these EISs (environmental impact statements). Soon as we hit the model projects on that one, we will use it as a template and break up this logjam we’ve had for a couple of years.”

Yet some of the operators pushing these large gas plays through the regulatory process don’t want Wyomingites to count them as a sure thing.

BP America spokesman Chad Calvert said the company is busy following through on its $2.2 billion, 2,000-well Wamsutter project it launched in 2005. Whether it adds another 7,700 new wells under the “infill” proposal currently before federal regulators has not been decided.

“Our committed plans are to complete the 2,000-well plan which will go through 2015 (and probably a year or two longer). As we get closer to that date, the company will analyze further field development,” Calvert told the Star-Tribune via e-mail.

Wyoming’s next wave of natural gas drilling

Normally Pressured Lance Formation (not yet submitted to BLM)

* TARGET: Deep natural gas

* LOCATION: Adjacent to Jonah field in Sublette County

* OPERATOR: EnCana Oil & Gas USA Inc.

* PROJECT AREA: 141,000 acres

* EST. WELLS: 3,500

* ANALYSIS: Not yet determined

* STATUS: BLM personnel are in pre-decisional discussions with the operator.

Gun Barrel, Madden Deep, Iron Horse

* TARGET: Deep natural gas

* LOCATION: Eastern Fremont County

* OPERATORS: EnCana Oil & Gas USA Inc., Burlington Resources Oil & Gas Co. LP, Noble Energy Inc.

* PROJECT AREA: 146,000 acres

* EST. WELLS: 1,470 (130 new wells annually for 10 to 15 years)

* ANALYSIS: Full environmental impact statement

* STATUS: Federal scoping process began in June 2008

* DESCRIPTION: The companies proposed a “full field” development scenario.

Beaver Creek

* TARGET: Coal-bed methane

* LOCATION: Nine miles south of Riverton

* OPERATOR: Devon Energy Production Co.

* PROJECT AREA: 16,518 acres

* EST. WELLS: 208 coal-bed methane on 40-acre spacing, and 20 conventional natural gas.

* ANALYSIS: Full environmental impact statement

* DESCRIPTION: An environmental assessment was completed in September 2007. Devon then completed 20 pilot wells confirming commercial quantities of coal-bed methane.

LaBarge Platform Infill

* TARGET: Natural gas

* LOCATION: Straddling the Green River and the Sublette and Lincoln counties border

* OPERATORS: EOG Resources Inc., ExxonMobil Production Co., Chevron U.S.A. Inc., and Wexpro Co.

* PROJECT AREA: 218,000 acres

* EST. WELLS: 838 wells from 463 pads

* ANALYSIS: Full environmental impact statement

Moxa Arch Infill

* TARGET: Natural gas

* LOCATION: West of Green River, bisected by Interstate 80

* OPERATORS: EOG Resources Inc., with some other interests

* PROJECT AREA: 475,808 acres

* EST. WELLS: 1,861 new wells, of which 1,226 would be drilled in the “core” area (in addition to prior authorization for 1,400 wells)

* ANALYSIS: Gull environmental impact statement

* STATUS: Beginning work on supplemental draft

Hiawatha Project

* TARGET: Natural gas

* LOCATION: South of Rock Springs, straddling the Wyoming-Colorado border

* OPERATORS: QEP Resources and Wexpro Co.

* PROJECT AREA: 157,361 acres

* EST. WELLS: 4,208

* ANALYSIS: Full environmental impact statement

Continental Divide-Creston (infill) Project

* TARGET: Natural gas

* LOCATION: Wamsutter area, straddling Interstate 80

* OPERATOR: Devon Energy Corp., BP America Production Co.

* PROJECT AREA: 1.1 million acres

* EST. WELLS: 1,250 by Devon, 7,700 by BP

* ANALYSIS: Full environmental impact statement

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