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Colo. drillers, officials ask Congress for help with 'inconsistent' BLM in Mancos Shale


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Colo. drillers, officials ask Congress for help with 'inconsistent' BLM in Mancos Shale

Thepotentially prolific Mancos Shale play in Colorado could be an economic boonfor the region if development is supported by federal agencies, a number ofspeakers told members of the House Natural Resources Committee.

WalterGuidroz, a program coordinator with the U.S. Geological Survey, said the MancosShale holds an estimated 66 Tcf of natural gas, 74 million barrels of oil and45 MMbbl of natural gas liquids. That total, he said, would make the Mancos oneof the most prolific unconventional plays in the U.S.

"Wehave an 84 Tcf mean for the Marcellus Shale. The Mancos ranks second, and thereare a number of plays that fall below that," he told the Subcommittee onEnergy and Mineral Resources.

Muchof the Mancos Shale is on federal land, which was a source of concern forseveral witnesses. Rose Pugliese, a commissioner for Mesa County, Colo., saidher county had lost 10,000 jobs as a result of the downturn in the natural gasindustry and those jobs could return with the help of the U.S. Bureau of LandManagement. Pugliese stated her fear that the BLM and other federal agencieswould not be willing to support expanded drilling in the shale play and calledfor Congress to intervene.

"Thereare significant energy resources in our western Colorado counties. Mesa Countyis 72% federal lands. What that means is that the federal government controlsour economy and the economies of all our western Colorado counties," shesaid. "Congress and our federal agencies have the power to determine ifMesa County and our neighboring counties have a strong and viable economy. Youget to decide if we succeed or fail."

RobertDowney, vice president of production and business development for theDenver-based Gunnison Energy LLC, said the Mancos has a large amount of oil andgas reserves in a remarkably small area. By his company's estimates, the Mancosmay have twice the natural gas of the Marcellus in 5% of the surface area. Hiscomments about working with the BLM, however, were less than flattering.

"Wehave found the BLM to be inconsistent and slow," he said.

Downeyalso disagreed with claims from Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., that drilling in theMancos would destroy prized forests and habitat used by ranchers in westernColorado.

"Ittakes two to three weeks to drill, then a well will quietly flow gas for 30years," he said. "They can coexist. We operate in natural forests,and a lot of people run cattle in areas where we operate."