ePlanning DOI-BLM-CO-N040-2018-0033-EA (Balzac Gulch MDP - Phase 2)  
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Last Updated:
09/05/2018 09:22:14 MDT
Project Synopsis
Phase 2 of the Balzac Gulch Master Development Plan (BG2MDP) is an oil and gas exploration and development program proposed by TEP Rocky Mountain LLC (Terra) over an approximate period of 2 to 3 years.  The project area is located 9 miles west of Rifle, Colorado, and immediately north of Rulison, Colorado, on the north side of Interstate 70 in central Garfield County (see Project Overview Map).  The BG2MDP involves 63 new Federal directional wells on four new wells pads, with bottomhole targets in Federal lease COC73094, an undeveloped lease analyzed in the Record of Decision and approved Resource Management Plan Amendment for BLM's Roan Plateau Planning Area (decision dated November 14, 2016).  If approved, the 63 new wells would produce nearly 120 billion cubic feet (bcf) of natural gas over the projects estimated 40-year life.

A previous EA for a Phase 1 BGMDP (DOI-BLM-CO-N040-2017-0093-EA), approved in September 2017, included 66 new wells on three existing pads, to be expanded to accommodate the additional development.  These pads and wells are shown on the Project Overview Map.  The Phase 1 EA disclosed a possible future phase, now proposed as the BG2MDP.  However, because a future phase was not yet planned to a sufficient degree for detailed analysis, the Phase 1 EA used a concervative estimate of 99 additional wells, resulting in a combined total of 165 wells.  That number was used in the Phase 1 EA for the purpose of its cumulative impacts analyses.  The actual combined number of new wells for the two phases is 129 (66 for Phase 1, 63 for Phase 2).

An additional 79 wells on 11 pads were analyzed and approved in previous EAs prepared by the BLM in response to proposals from Terra predecessor companies (see Project Overview Map).  Note that this number (79 wells) was incorrectly cited in the initial posting of the BG2MDP project on this website, instead of the actual number of 66 wells.

The four proposed new well pads under the BG2MDP are indicated on the Project Overview Map as the PA 34-24, PA 31-26, PA 41-24, and PA 32-13), all located on Federal surface, using existing access roads and pipeline infrastructure to the extent possible and constructing new roads and pipelines only where necessary.  Terra also proposes constructing two ancillary support pads (PA 32-13 Production Support Pad and PA 32-13 Operation Support Pad) on Federal surface.  Two existing pads (RWF 21-18 on Federal surface and RWF 334-18 on private surface) would be used for cuttings storage, and a new pad (RWF 12-20 Tank Pad on private surface would be constructed to store oil and produced water closer to County road access on the valley floor.

The Environmental Assessment for the project will include an air quality analysis prepared by the Colorado BLM State Office.  The air quality analysis will address near-field and far-field air quality, including potential impacts associated with fugitive dust and other particulates and gaseous emissions from vehicles, drilling, completion equipment and production facilities.

The legal description for the BG2MDP project area covers the following Federal lands:
Township. 6 South, Range. 94 West,
                        Section 19, Lots 5-8, 13-16
Township. 6 South, Range. 95 West,
                        Sections 13, E½, E½W½, Lots 1-4;
                        Section 23, NE¼SW¼, N½SE¼, SE¼NE¼, Lots 1-10;
                        Section 24, NE¼, E½NW¼, SW¼NW¼, N½S½, Lots 1-5;
                        Section 25, NW¼, N½SW¼, W½NE¼, NE¼NE¼; and
                        Section 26 in its entirety,
6th Principal Meridian, Garfield County, Colorado

PROJECT UPDATE:  Continued planning between TEP and BLM project personnel has revealed that approving the Proposed Action in its current form would require the granting of exceptions to two NSO stipulations attached to the leases and made part of the Roan Plateau RMP Amendment:

1.  One NSO would prohibit construction on slopes steeper than 50%.  The proposed PA 32-13 well pad and access road would follow a natural bench, with minor road crossings of ephemeral drainages that have short segments of steep slopes on both sides.  The road would cross these drainages after installing culverts sized to convey infrequent stormflows.  The culverts would remain in place for the life of the project, and then removed and the channels restored. 

In addition, a portion of the well pad would be constructed across an ephemeral drainage after placing a culvert sized to convey infrequent stormflows.  The area of the drainage on top of the culvert would be filled with earthen material to provide adequate pad workspace for drilling and completions.  Once all of the wells are drilled and completed, the pad would undergo interim reclamation, which would include removing the fill overlying the culvert, removing the culvert (except for a small segment beneath the access road entry to the pad), and restoring the channels to the previous, natural geometry.  This work would not be visible from I-70 (see below). TEP has retained a geotechnical engineering consultant to ensure that work related to this pad and access road would not result in unstable conditions.  

2.  The second NSO would prohibit any project component visible from I-70, unless the component can be mitigated to meet Visual Resource Class II objectives.  This would require that any changes to the visual landscape must be slight and not call attention to themselves as viewed by a casual observer (e.g., travelers on I-70 or persons looking toward the project area from other Key Observation Points (KOPs). 

Additional Update: The access roads to pads besides the PA 32-13 would also need exceptions to the steep slopes NSO. The proposed PA 34-24 access road would cross a drainage with steep sides, including installation of a properly sized culvert.  The existing PA 31-26 access road would require upgrading of the existing  low-water crossing of a steep-sided drainage.  The PA 31-26 access road would also involve lowering the top of a low mound with steep sides to achieve a suitable grade for the access road where it crosses the mound.

EA Approval: Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) and Decision Record (DR) signed on September 4, 2018.  Applications for Permit to Drill (APDs) expected to be signed during the same week.

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