DOLORES COUNTY – A public comment period is open until Jan. 6 on a seismic exploration project in the Doe Canyon area proposed by the Kinder Morgan CO2 Company to identify potential reserves of carbon dioxide. The project would take place on approximately 134 square miles of public and private lands, including Glade Lake and lands east and west of the Dolores River.
The proposal would use 3D technology to identify reserves of carbon dioxide by detonating dynamite underground to create energy waves, which are reflected back to the surface and recorded with receiver phones called geophones. According to a Dolores Public Lands Office press release, such “seismic survey” exploration can provide valuable information with fewer impacts than exploration drilling.
Kinder Morgan currently delivers approximately 1.3 billion cubic feet per day of CO2 through about 1,300 miles of pipelines. The gas is used in a process called CO2 flooding that boosts production in mature oil fields. Kinder Morgan transports CO2 though pipelines in southwestern Colorado to west Texas, where it is injected into oil-producing fields. The company is the second largest oil producer in Texas, producing over 55,000 barrels of oil per day.
As proposed, small, lightweight helicopters would lift portable drill rigs to each drill shot hole location, eliminating the need for wheeled drill buggies. Approximately three helicopters and 15 drill rigs would be operating in no more than three areas at any one time. Each drill would be operated by a two-person ground crew; the crew would drill four-inch diameter holes to a depth of about 45 feet. The east-west trending lines across the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management portions of the project area would be 1,100 feet apart, with shot holes 220 feet apart. Approximately 15,400 shot holes would be drilled on public lands to complete the project, and ground disturbance at each hole would not exceed approximately 100 square feet.
After drilling, each hole would be packed with small explosive charges and sealed, backfilled and covered for later detonation. The buried explosive charges would pose no threat to people or animals walking on the surface. According to Dolores Public Lands officials, geophone recording equipment would then be flown in by a single helicopter and laid out by ground crews along north-south trending lines. Utility task vehicles may be used to drive along the lines to maintain and trouble-shoot individual geophones. The geophones would sit on the surface and create no disturbances underground.
Wireless technology would eliminate the need for wire connections between geophone stations. After 22 lines of geophones are laid out, the first energy-source charges would be detonated one at a time, in a controlled pattern, by a two-person crew including a detonation expert and safety officer. Most of the noise and vibration would travel underground.
Staging areas for support vehicles would be located in previously disturbed areas along main roads. Company trucks and crews would be allowed to use roads identified for general public use as well as administrative-use only roads. In addition, data-acquisition crews may be allowed to drive UTVs cross-country for certain tasks. No ground disturbance would occur at cultural resource sites or water sources. Mitigation of helicopter disturbance to waterfowl at Glade Lake will be analyzed.
The drilling activities are expected to generate a high level of noise, due to three helicopters in the air for six to eight hours per day and the number of people required on the ground. In comparison, the geophone-recording phase is expected to generate considerably less noise, since only one helicopter would be used. Approximately 50 to 60 personnel would be on the ground and in the air during the operation.
The analysis will attempt to balance the needs of the seismic survey, while minimizing impacts to big-game habitat, hunting seasons and other cultural and natural resources and public uses.
Options to be studied include: conducting all operations in one summer season; conducting drilling operations in winter (with the aid of snowcats) with data recording the following summer; or conducting operations over two consecutive summers.
According to the press release, comments will be “most helpful” if postmarked or hand delivered to the Dolores Public Lands Office, 29211 Highway 184, by Friday, Jan. 6, 2012. Comments should be mailed to Mark Lambert, Dolores Public Lands Office, 29211 Hwy 184, Dolores, CO 81323 or emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Scoping Document and Map is posted at HYPERLINK "http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/sanjuan/projects" http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/sanjuan/projects.
The public may also stop by the Dolores Public Lands office to pick up a copy of these documents or contact the office to receive this information by mail.