New way to extract gas is proposed

A gas company is tapping into new technology to drill wells in Moffat County.

CDX Gas LLC has proposed using experimental horizontal drilling technology to develop coal- bed methane deposits northwest of Maybell.

If the technology works, the gas company estimates it could tap into 3 to 4 billion cubic gallons of gas.

"We're hoping this key is the technology to unlock it," said Van Whitfield, vice-president of western development at CDX Gas.

At Monday night's Moffat County Land Use Board meeting, Whitfield said his company's technology could develop more natural gas with less environmental impact than traditional coal-bed methane development technologies.

Coal-bed methane development is a process by which gas is extracted from coal seams. Traditional technology requires large amounts of water to be pumped from vertical wells.

But CDX Gas uses a pinnate drilling pattern to bore horizontal wells along coal seams. Pinnate is a French term for the veins on a leaf, which the horizontal wells resemble.

This technology eliminates the need to pump water from the wells. When it works, it produces more gas than traditional technologies, Whitfield said. Horizontal drilling can recover as much as 85 percent of a reserve, as opposed to the 40 percent traditional drilling can recover.

"We still have to move water, but it's not nearly as much. From the very start we'll see gas," he said.

Land Use Board member Bob Grubb theorized horizontal drilling could be used in proposed wilderness areas. The company could go in, drill one well, extract the gas, and return the proposed wilderness to its previous condition, he said.

CDX Gas has developed as many as 1,200 acres from one location. But Colorado law restricts energy companies to pooling gas from no more than 640 acres, Whitfield said.

It costs CDX Gas about $2 million to drill one well.

CDX Gas acquired government-owned leases from Patina Oil and Gas Corp. Patina was unable to develop the gas using traditional technology, Whitfield said.

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