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BLM: Wyoming oil and gas project approved; could generate $375.5 million in royalties, taxes per year

A worker takes a water sample from an outfall at the Moneta Divide Field. (DEQ)

CASPER, Wyo. — The Bureau of Land Management said on Friday, Aug. 7 that they have “approved the development of up to 4,250 oil and gas wells for the Moneta Divide Project.”

“The project, proposed by Aethon Energy Management and Burlington Resources Oil and Gas Company LP, is expected to recover approximately 18.16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 254 million barrels of oil over the 65-year life of the project,” the BLM says. “The project could generate approximately $182 million per year in Federal royalties, $87.5 million per year in severance taxes for the State of Wyoming, and $106 million per year in County Ad Valorem taxes.”

 The oil and gas wells would be drilled on a project area that includes “327,645 acres of public, state and private lands,” according to the BLM. 67% of the project area is on BLM managed public lands, 10% is state land and 23% is on private land.

“The proponents plan to drill up to 4,250 new vertical, directional and horizontal wells from single and multi-well pads over a 15-year development period,” the release adds.

BLM note that their Record of Decision approves the “Preferred Alternative analyzed in the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Moneta Divide Project” but that ground activity is not yet authorized.

“The BLM will still require review and approval for each individual well as part of its Application for Permit to Drill process,” the release states. “The BLM released the Final EIS on Feb. 21, 2020, which began a 30-day public availability period and 60-day Governor’s consistency review.”

“The Final EIS identifies a range of alternatives and includes the agency’s preferred alternative, which was developed following extensive review and consideration of public comments received on the Draft EIS. The Preferred Alternative also includes an amendment to the Casper Resource Management Plan.”

Oilfield wastewater has been discharged from an Aethon Energy facility into creeks which feed Boysen Reservoir. Aethon had previously requested a permit from the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality to increase their dumping of wastewater into the creeks to up to 8.27 million gallons of oilfield wastewater per day.

However, WyoFile reported in January that the Wyoming DEQ decided not to grant a permit to allow Aethon to increase the amount of oilfield wastewater the company could discharge into Badwater and Alkali creeks.

The Wyoming DEQ also said that Aethon violated environmental regulations based on 2019 inspections of the creeks, WyoFile reported in February.

Further details of the Moneta Divide Project, including maps and documents, are available from the BLM.