CASPER, Wyoming — A Sheridan-based coal-bed methane company is scheduled Tuesday to present to state officials its plans to restart a large number of idle coal-bed methane wells in the Powder River Basin.
High Plains Gas owns some 3,000 nonproducing coal-bed methane wells in the basin. The company recently acquired from Patriot Energy Resources, a subsidiary of bankrupt operator Luca Technologies.
At its regular monthly meeting Tuesday, the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will hear High Plains' plan for making those payments and bringing its wells back into production.
That plan relies on a device called the Gazmo, which promoters say can inexpensively separate coal-bed-methane from groundwater. State officials may take control of the idle wells and close them if they don't approve of the company's plan, the Casper Star-Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/1qAp1NP ).
Questions remain about High Plains' finances, its access to wells on private land because of unpaid royalty payments, and its plans to address infrastructure that has been removed, state Oil and Gas Supervisor Mark Watson said.
"It has to be a legitimate plan we think is going to work," Watson said. "It has to be economically viable."
Meanwhile, High Plains owes the state $5.7 million in additional bond payments. And High Plains CEO Ed Pressley has said the company owes $50 million in outstanding government payments, mineral royalties and other debts.
Still, the company is ready to present its plan to the commission, Pressley said.
State officials aren't eager to take on the former Luca wells as part of a new surge to plug and reclaim hundreds of other idle coal bed methane wells abandoned by their owners.
A December report by the governor's office found that plugging the 912 wells formerly owned by Luca would cost the state $5.9 million.
Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com