EnCana strives for environmental stewardship
Jonah Infill Project
EnCana USA held a community meeting in Pinedale to provide information on the Jonah Infill Project.
Air Quality, Offsite Mitigation, Surface Reclamation, Low-Impact Development
by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
December 4, 2005
(Pinedale) Last week, EnCana USA representatives held a community meeting in Pinedale to give information about the Jonah Infill Project and answer questions about the company’s efforts associated with the project. EnCana is one of several large natural gas producing companies developing the Jonah Field.
The Jonah Field is a world-class natural gas field located approximately 30 miles south of Pinedale on federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The field encompasses an area of about 23,000 productive acres, just under a legal township in size.
The BLM recently completed an Environmental Impact Statement for the Jonah Infill Drilling Project. The BLM’s official decision on what will be done for drilling activity in the Jonah Field is expected sometime in January. That decision will determine how drilling companies like EnCana can conduct their drilling operations over the life of the field.
In response to concerns about air quality emissions, wildlife habitat impacts, direct land impacts, cultural resources and social impacts, EnCana has made a strong commitment to environmental stewardship to minimize the impacts of their activities while developing the resource. EnCana has also presented a strong presence in Pinedale and voiced a commitment to do what they can to help the people and communities in Sublette County that are being impacted by the fast and overwhelming social changes by the natural gas development “boom”.
Sublette County Commissioner John Linn helped host the community meeting. Below are some of the things EnCana representatives told the public and media present at the meeting:
* Life of the Jonah Field: The Jonah Field has a tremendous amount of natural gas in a very small footprint area. Estimates are that the field has 3.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Company representatives predicted activity in the Jonah Field to last from 30-50 years. Currently, EnCana has 600-700 people a day working on their projects, between their own crews and subcontractors, on approximately 10 operating rigs.
* Surface Disturbance: The surface disturbance for the 23,000 acre field is about 3,500 acres. EnCana’s goal is to keep the surface disturbance to under 4,000 acres at any given time.
* Reclamation: EnCana is conducting an Enhanced Reclamation Pilot Project in the Jonah Field testing fertilizers, irrigation, different seed mixtures to find the best combinations encourage rapid growth of disturbed areas as part of the reclamation process. Their goal is to find the best combinations for the most successful vegetative recovery for well pad reclamation.
* Flaring: EnCana has developed a flareless flowback system on their wells, which nearly eliminates the practice of flaring. “We don’t flare in Jonah anymore,” said officials.
* Air Quality Emissions: A specially built natural gas rig was brought in over the summer and tested and found to work well to reduce emissions. EnCana will bring in four more of these special natural gas rigs, which will reduce air quality emissions by about 90%. Air quality monitoring stations track daily air quality emissions and visual quality.
* On-site Mitigation: EnCana has a very stringent on-site mitigation program to reduce surface disturbance. A new mat system is being tested to reduce surface impacts from well pad development. With the new mat system, drilling equipment is brought in over special mats which are laid down on top of the sagebrush. The mats eliminate the need to blade off the sagebrush and prepare the land for the well.
* Low-Impact Surface Techniques: New low-impact techniques, hub and spoke drill pad configurations and centralized production facilities could reduce surface footprint impacts from 3-4 acres to less than 2 acres.
* Wildlife Habitat Off-Site Mitigation: EnCana has committed $28.5 million for wildlife and range habitat in the Upper Green River Valley for wildlife mitigation. EnCana voluntarily proposed a special fund to support conservation opportunities specifically in the Upper Green River Valley to offset development impacts in the Jonah Field. $25 million has been committed to offsite mitigation for the Operators Proposed action.
* Social Impacts: As part of addressing the social impacts of the natural gas boom impacting Sublette County and creating a housing and labor shortage, child care issues and other social impacts, company representatives said, “We’re here tonight to see how we can help address some of those socio-economic impacts.” Community members and EnCana personnel all acknowledged the social impacts were difficult to assess and mitigate and not just one company’s responsibility to “fix”, but EnCana representatives reiterated their commitment to help as best they can. A significant amount of grant money is available to local groups and organizations to help fund projects. EnCana has donated large amounts of money to help support local events and community functions.
* Drugs: EnCana is committed to keeping employees and their subcontractors held to a high level of responsibility regarding their actions while at work and in the community. The company has a zero tolerance for drug offenses and failure of drug tests is a fireable offence. EnCana will not hire back anyone who has a drug offence and the company shares offender name information with other companies hiring workers for the Jonah Field. Firearms are not allowed in the Jonah Field. Subcontractors and their employees are held to the same standards and expectations as company employees.
* Online information about the Jonah Field: EnCana has created a public information website about their activity in the Jonah Field: www.jonahfield.com