Robin M. Smith, 2004. "From Prospect to Giant Gas Field: History of the Environmental Analyses of Jonah Field", Jonah Field: Case Study of a Tight-Gas Fluvial Reservoir, John W. Robinson, Keith W. Shanley
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Jonah field and the area around it have been the subject of an immense amount of environmental study since the field was discovered. Between 1993 and 2001, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) completed one Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and four Environmental Assessments (EAs) (Figure 1). In addition, another EIS for downspacing in Jonah field is currently in preparation by the BLM. Before any surface disturbance is authorized, each project component is also subject to an additional, site-specific EA prior to final site approval and construction.
Each of these studies was conducted to comply with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), passed by Congress in 1969. NEPA-mandated environmental impact analysis and assessment is a discovery function for ascertaining the range of risks and benefits of proposed actions on public lands. Where practicable and technically feasible, the resulting decision recommends and requires various mitigation measures and alternatives designed to reduce project impacts. The NEPA was also written as a means to require the various agencies in the federal government to include the public in identifying issues and concerns and to disclose the estimated impacts of the proposed action under consideration.
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The discovery of a giant natural gas field within a mature petroleum province is a significant event. Understanding the factors that control such an accumulation is important if the oil and gas industry is to continue to develop natural gas resources. Jonah field, in the Greater Green River basin of southwest Wyoming, is the largest natural gas discovery in the onshore United States in the last 10-15 years with recoverable reserves ranging from 8 to 15 tcf natural gas. Since beginning widespread field development in August 1992, Jonah has produced approximately 1 tcf gas, 10.3 million barrels of oil, and 3.7 million barrels of water. Field production is still increasing with daily production presently at 666 MMCFGPD, 5800 BOPD, and 4000 BWPD from approximately 600 wells. Active drilling continues within the field as operators consider widespread downspacing. By virtue of being a tight-gas field, Jonah is, in many respects, nontraditional. Recent assessments of natural gas potential, for both the U.S. and the world, strongly suggest that most future gas resources will come from low-permeability sandstones in the deeper portions of sedimentary basins, and from fields that will undoubtedly share characteristics with Jonah. The subtle structure, the low-permeability nature of the reservoir, the challenging petrophysics, and the environmental sensitivity surrounding Jonah may foreshadow what explorationists have to look forward to as the demand for natural gas increases, not only in the United States, but throughout the world. This volume brings together previously unpublished material on Jonah field and attempts to integrate all aspects including geology, geophysics, reservoir engineering, drilling and completion, and regulatory affairs. As such, this is a definitive collection that provides a truly integrated perspective of this giant field.