A proposed pipeline could open by the end of the year with production at several coal bed methane wells in the northeast corner of Moffat County that have been dormant for decades.
To get to the gas, Paul Laird, president of New Frontier Energy, Inc., proposed constructing a 20-mile pipeline, the majority of which would follow County Road 2 through Moffat County.
Laird laid out the plans for the Moffat County Board of Commissioners during a meeting Tuesday morning. The pipeline would carry methane gas from eight wells in the northeast corner of the county to a gathering station south of Baggs, Wyo.
Moffat County owns the mineral rights on three of the wells. A 15 percent royalty on gas produced from those wells would be distributed among taxing districts in Moffat County, but Laird couldn't quantify the revenue the county stands to gain.
"It's very difficult to assess how much production we'll have until we get the pipeline in," Laird said.
The Moffat County route is one of two proposed pipelines to transport the methane gas from the wells to the gathering station.
In Moffat County, an eight-inch pipe would be buried four feet under County Road 10. The county would charge New Frontier a permit fee to use its right-of-way.
Ten property owners would be affected by the construction, as would three Bureau of Land Management parcels. Laird said he had contacted nine of the 10 landowners that may be affected by the pipeline. Laird said they were supportive of the pipeline.
"I'm certainly willing to explore this with you guys. ... To do this in the corridor makes sense because you disrupt the country less," Commissioner Darryl Steele said.
The second proposed pipeline is 18 miles long and would start in Moffat County but travel mostly through Wyoming. That pipeline would be closer to several Wyoming wells from which the company hopes to extract gas, Laird said. But the pipeline route also would cross the Little Snake River three times, an expensive and complicated operation.
This is the second pipeline proposal Moffat County residents have heard this year. The first and much larger proposal was from Entrega Gas Pipeline, a company that wants to build a 36-inch pipeline that would cross Moffat County while transporting gas from Meeker to Cheyenne, Wyo. Entrega officials have not said if their pipeline would increase gas development in Moffat County. It is unclear whether other companies would be able to tie in to their line. But as opposed to Entrega's pipeline, New Frontier's pipeline is a gathering line. Other companies would be able to tie in to the line, meaning development could begin on wells in the northeast corner of the county that had previously not been exploited because there was no economical way to get the gas from the well.
But that is exactly the aspect of the pipeline that has one local conservationist concerned.
Reed Morris of the Colorado Wilderness Network attended the meeting with New Frontier. He said the plan to run the pipeline down the road was sound environmental policy, but was concerned about the impact lines bringing gas across the county to the pipeline would have,
"That's a very narrow look as to what impact the pipeline would have on the environment. The development associated with the pipeline is what would have the impact," Morris said.
Coal bed methane extraction is a method to extract methane gas from a coal seam. A well is drilled into the coal deposit. A well is drilled into the coal seam, water is pumped out, and then the methane is extracted, compressed and piped away.
Often, huge amounts of very salty water need to be disposed during the development process.
But Laird said the water at these wells could be pumped back underground.