BOISE – The new owners of natural gas wells in western Idaho plan to spend more and drill more to find more gas in the state.
“This is exciting news for Idaho,” Snake River Oil and Gas President Richard Brown told the Idaho Statesman in a story published Saturday. “This acquisition of the productive wells and the thousands of associated leased acres means we can expand our oil and gas exploration program, drill more wells and bring major investments to the region and the state.”
The company is partnering with AM Idaho LLC, a subsidiary of Texas-based Alta Mesa Holdings.
The companies recently purchased the Idaho gas wells from Bridge Resources Corp. and its partner, Paramax Resources Ltd. Those companies in 2010 produced what appear to be commercially viable natural gas wells after drilling 11 wells in Payette County.
The new owners plan to use advanced technology that allows geologic mapping of the region to find more natural gas.
“That’s an exciting part of this project, in no small part because it means making a major financial investment that will be felt directly by businesses in the area,” Brown said.
Geologist Virginia Gillerman of the Idaho Geological Survey said much of the region hasn’t been geologically mapped. Much of the region has also been leased for exploration, she said, from highly populated Ada County west to eastern Oregon.
“These newer techniques can get a wealth of information that would otherwise require drilling hundreds of holes,” Gillerman said. “And in some cases you couldn’t even get it that way.”
Bridge Resources ran into a variety of problems in its effort to extract natural gas in Idaho after making the initial finds. That included financial problems involving debt to a consortium of banks led by Royal Bank of Scotland.
In Idaho, the company also ran into local opposition getting a permit for a plant near new Plymouth to remove moisture from gas. Local communities were also concerned about other possible ramifications.
But Idaho lawmakers approved a law that went into effect March 23 forbidding local governments from enacting ordinances to prohibit gas drilling or requiring exploration companies to secure conditional use permits for their projects.
“I think Bridge met tremendous resistance in the community because of the way they handled themselves out there,” said Justin Hayes of the Idaho Conservation League. “I hope (the new companies) want to work with the community so environmental impacts are minimized and positive impacts are accentuated.”
Brown said the companies plan to be in Idaho for a long time seeking natural gas.
“We know the petroleum industry is still very new to the state, but we are determined to be good neighbors and good corporate citizens,” he said.