Company faces unusual well problem |

Company faces unusual well problem

GUNNISON ” Coal bed methane development developers usually face the problem of getting enough water into the ground to get the gas out.

EnCana Oil and Gas USA is facing the opposite problem, forcing it to shut 24 coal bed methane wells east of Mamm Creek.

There’s too much water.

“It’s one of the things that’s going to make us not an economical venture anymore,” EnCana land negotiator Greg Ryan told the Daily Sentinel last week during an energy and environment symposium at Western State College.

The wells are producing between 300 and 3,000 barrels daily, compared with normal water production of up to 15 barrels.

“We can’t de-water the coals because we don’t know what to do with the water,” Ryan said.

Treating the water has failed, as has evaporating it. The mineral- and saline-laden water is too dirty.

Company spokesman Wendy Wiedenbeck said the company is still working on treating the water or re-injecting it below ground.

“I think, ultimately, if we could return the water back to the community, that would be great,” she said. “The question is: Can we treat the water to safe standards so that it can be returned? We’re exploring those options.”

The solution will require a review by both state and federal authorities.

Fred Conrath, program manager for the Bureau of Land Management’s Glenwood Springs energy office, said the company would have to show it can find zones beneath the surface that could handle that much water. Discharging it above ground would mean guaranteeing that it is clean and not subject to pollutants leaching into it.

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