Gas pipeline skirts Moffat County

A Colorado gas company will still develop coal-bed methane wells in the northeast corner of Moffat County, but the majority of a pipeline to transport the gas will run through Wyoming.

The route change is good news as far as the Moffat County Planning Commission is concerned, said Sue Graler, planning director. Because the pipeline will only run through the county for three miles instead of the originally planned 20 miles, the impact on county roads will be significantly decreased.

"This is a much better scenario for the county," Graler said. Original proposals by Natural Resources Gathering Group of Littleton called for an 8-inch pipeline to be buried under County Road 2 for 20 miles.

"It was possible, but it was going to take quite a bit of work to make it happen, and the county Road and Bridge Department didn't want the roads disturbed," Graler said.

Natural Resources Gathering Group plans to develop nine coal-bed methane wells in the county, one of which has just been drilled this year, said Paul Laird, president of Natural Resources Gathering Group. Moffat County owns the rights to two of those wells, he said. The gas will be transported from Moffat County to a station near Baggs, Wyo.

The project should be finished by the end of this year, Laird said.

"We're going to push as hard as we can within the parameters of safety and environmental mitigation," Laird said.

Within Moffat County, the company will need to bore under County Road 1 and under the Little Snake River before crossing the Wyoming border.

The pipeline will cross the private property of two county landowners, and Laird said his company had already negotiated a right-of-way agreement with one landowner. The pipeline route won't be finalized until agreements have been reached with all affected landowners.

The Moffat County commissioners approved a conditional use permit for the company to bore under County Road 1, with the condition they obtain a $10,000 performance and reclamation bond and provide the county planning commission with copies of landowner right-of-way agreements.

The plans also will be turned over to the Army Corps of Engineers, which has jurisdiction over construction projects affecting wetlands or water.

The commissioners originally said the plans would minimize the impact the pipeline would have on the environment because it would be buried under a road. Laird said his company would still strive to mitigate the pipeline's environmental impact.

Once the pipeline is buried, the company plans to begin drilling seven more wells in Colorado and Wyoming, Laird said.

Because his company has not explored the area bordering the first proposed pipeline route, Laird said he couldn't comment as to whether the route change would limit gas development possibilities along the county's northern border.

Coal-bed methane development is a process by which methane is extracted from a coal deposit. A well is drilled into the deposit, water is pumped out, and then the methane is extracted, compressed and piped to market. During previous meetings with the county commissioners, Laird said the water at the developed wells would be pumped underground.

Other pipeline proposals include a plan by Entrega Gas Pipeline Inc. to construct a gas line across Moffat County from Meeker to Cheyenne, Wyo. The proposed Colorado Interstate Gas Pipeline will transport gas from Greasewood to Wamsutter, Wyo. and follow 98 miles of the Entrega line's route.

A third pipeline, proposed by Questar, a Rocky Mountain natural gas company, will transport gas from the Piceance Basin to Rock Springs, Wyo.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or rgebhart@craigdailypress.com.

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