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April 26, 2007

Rey Adame (BLM) (307) 352-0399
Merry Gamper (BLM) (307) 367-5313
Keith M. Guille (WDEQ) (307)777-6105

BLM, Wyoming DEQ Require Test of Water Wells Within the Pinedale Anticline and Jonah Fields

Recent detection of Hydrocarbons in water wells used for industrial purposes within the Jonah and Anticline gas fields has led to additional testing. This is a direct result of the joint and cooperative effort between the Bureau of Land Management and the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ).

The 2000 Pinedale Anticline Project Area (PAPA) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Record of Decision (ROD) requires that oil and gas operators in the PAPA sample water wells within one mile of any exploration and/or production well. As a result of this sampling, hydrocarbon contamination was identified in four industrial water supply wells in August and September 2006.

The impacted water supply wells were operated without the use of back flow preventers or check valves to prevent hydrocarbon contaminated water from siphoning back into the wells.

Because of concerns that more wells may have been similarly impacted, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ) requested in October 2006 that all operators in the PAPA and in the Jonah field sample all of their water supply wells for hydrocarbons.

With the cooperation of all operators, approximately 163 water wells were put through a rigorous sampling program in response to this request. Results of the sampling have indicated that three wells have detections of hydrocarbons, namely benzene, above the allowable level set by the WDEQ. Owners of the contaminated wells have joined the WDEQ’s Voluntary Remediation Program and are currently working toward investigation and remediation of all contaminated groundwater.

Approximately 82 additional wells also had detections of hydrocarbons, but below regulatory levels. A few of these wells are being re-sampled to confirm that the hydrocarbon contamination concentrations are below standards. There are a number of potential causes of the contamination, including natural sources that are being thoroughly investigated.

“We were notified by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ) of these findings. We, along with the WDEQ and industry will work to resolve this situation,” said Merry Gamper, Supervisory Natural Resource Specialist with the Pinedale BLM.

The BLM and the WDEQ will be working together with operators to develop and implement a comprehensive water well construction and operation program. In addition, the BLM and the WDEQ will be scheduling a meeting with all of the operators in the near future to review and discuss these findings and the types of preventative measures necessary to prevent similar problems from occurring in the future.

For more information, contact Merry Gamper in the Pinedale BLM Office at (307) 367-5313 or Mark Thiesse in the Lander WDEQ office at (307) 335-6959 or mthies@state.wy.us.