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DENVER – The oil and natural gas industry has undergone significant technological transformation, and wildlife is benefitting, according to a report released today by Western Energy Alliance and the Petroleum Association of Wyoming (PAW). Increased use of horizontal and directional drilling, paired with hydraulic fracturing, has significantly lowered surface disturbance by 70 percent. As a result, potential impacts on sage grouse, mule deer, elk, pronghorn, and other big game habitat are significantly reduced.
The report, Gaining Ground: Industry Innovation Reduces Impacts on Sage-Grouse and Big Game, documents that a single horizontal well now takes the place of 8 to 16 vertical wells, and up to 32 directionally drilled wells can be clustered on one pad. Horizontal development can be accomplished with as few as one or two well pads per square mile, far below the density that affects big game migration and sage-grouse mating areas.
“Healthy wildlife populations are a major part of the culture and economy of the West. As responsible stewards of the land, oil and natural gas companies actively work to protect wildlife,” said Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government and public affairs at the Alliance. “Companies are now able to do more with less to minimize impacts on species and the landscapes they depend upon. Increased use of horizontal and directional drilling have significantly lowered surface disturbance. Wildlife is truly gaining ground.”
“Oil and natural gas companies are committed environmental stewards within the areas where they operate,” added Esther Wagner, vice president of public lands at the PAW. “Industry plays an instrumental role in helping to fund and develop the science that is guiding the policy in Wyoming to manage big game migration corridors and to safeguard valuable wildlife resources for future generations. Responsible oil and natural gas development and robust wildlife populations can and do coexist.”
The full report is available on the Alliance’s website.
Typical surface footprint comparison between types of drilling operations. The well pads shown in yellow represent surface impact, while the well bores in black indicate the reach underground.
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