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Natural gas is topic of Chamber meeting PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chris Lee   
Wednesday, 04 May 2011 12:19

Natural gas was the topic of conversation at Holyoke Chamber of Commerce’s monthly meeting Tuesday, April 26.

Three representatives from Black Raven Energy, Inc. were on hand to speak about the company and the wells that are being drilled in the area. President Bill Hayworth explained how the company came to be and the process they have seen to begin drilling wells in Phillips and the surrounding counties.

Director of operations Billie Hadaway and landman Janice Aldstadt were also present to speak about their roles as they pertain to the project and company.

Hayworth noted the entire process begins with leasing. Aldstadt said many of the leases were acquired through the purchase of the assets from Western Gas Resources.

The company first started as a gathering company called PRB Energy. The founder started it in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming. In 2007, the gathering systems aspect of the business was sold off and became an exclamation production company.

The name of the company was also changed to Black Raven Energy, Inc.

During the process, Hayworth ran across the acreage in northeast Colorado which also reaches into Chase and Perkins counties in Nebraska.

“I liked the potential based upon the information I saw in the data room in Denver,” Hayworth said.

Western Gas Resources had the assets and was selling them, according to Hayworth. Hadaway conducted an assessment of the assets after which an offer was made and the assets were purchased.

Black Raven currently has 69 wells and hopes to drill 70 more beginning in July.

Hayworth said the gas in this area is located about 2,400-2,800 feet below the surface.

Numerous structures like the one pictured are popping up around
Phillips County. Black Raven Energy, Inc. has been busy drilling natural
gas wells over the past year and plans to drill more beginning this summer.  
—Enterprise photo

Once a lease is obtained by Black Raven, they use a side company that comes out with trucks that vibrate the earth. Graphs are made that show different pockets within the earth that obtain gas. Black Raven’s geologists use these graphs and maps to pick a drilling location.

Permits are obtained from the state before drilling rigs begin to drill.

Hayworth said there are two types of casings that are required to cover the pipe at different depths throughout the well. These help protect the drinking water.

Once the well is drilled and ready to go, a process known as perforation occurs. This is where charges are loaded into a piece of pipe, sent down the well, aligned with where the company wants the charges to be set and then the charges shoot off through the casing into the interval they want to try to produce.

“It’s an amazing process,” Hayworth said.

Little sheds have been seen around the county. Hayworth said they house separators and meters that meter the gas. All the fluids from the well go into the shed and are separated. Black Raven can keep track of each well and how they are producing relative to each other. And that’s the way production is allocated back to pay the mineral owners who own the minerals under each tract of land.

The gases then travel to the compression facility where it is compressed and dried before being sent to Kinder Morgan’s Trailblazer pipeline where it is sold.

Other than land and mineral owners receiving a portion of the income, Black Raven must pay property taxes to each county. They pay on a per well basis based upon the equipment at each well and also on the compressor facility.

Hadaway said they feel right at home here in Colorado. Black Raven is located in Denver but the employees all have rural backgrounds. Hadaway said he and his family will spend this summer in Holyoke as more wells are drilled.

He compared Black Raven’s business to that of custom harvesters. They both harvest a commodity but it takes Black Raven around 30 years to harvest the natural gas.

He said natural gas is the greenest fuel because it is clean burning. “It puts American people to work, heats our homes, furnishes us with electricity and it puts our kids to work,” Hadaway said. He said they are very proud of what they do and what they furnish the country with.

Visitors at the meeting wanted to find out about how the rights are divided as well as about the term fracking and the possibility of the drinking water getting contaminated.

Visitors wanted to hear about the depths and how they apply with fracking compared to natural gas wells on the western front. There have been many news articles concerning fracking and the dangers to water zones.

Hadaway said they are doing the same thing but in a different zone. The wells in northeast Colorado are 2,000 feet below the water zone. He said they drill through the water zone and set surface pipe at 450 feet (which is below the deepest part of the Ogallala Aquifer). The pipe is then cemented up to the surface so the water zone is protected by a first layer of pipe and then cement.

There was also a question about the disposal of the water that comes up the well. Hayworth said there is a water line that travels to the compression facility where it cascades through tanks and then goes into a disposal bed located at about 5,400 feet.

A question about what happens when the well is done producing was asked and Hayworth and Hadaway said they are plugged. The lifetime of a well will vary due to economics but they said the average is around 30 years.