Measuring the Direct Landscape Impact of Natural Gas Drilling

Gas-drilling activity on the Pinedale Anticline, October 2005.

Pinedale, Wyoming: the Pinedale Anticline natural-gas field is one of the largest tight-gas sandstone reservoirs in the Greater Green River Basin of southwest Wyoming. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) controls 80% of the mineral rights in the 198,034-acre area. In 2008 the BLM proposed a new development plan that includes 10-acre spacing of wells, a potential 4,400 additional wells in the field.

Google Earth image showing gas-drilling impact on part of the Pinedale Anticline, August 2005.

SkyTruth measured the amount of landscape already directly impacted by natural-gas development in the Pinedale area. The analysis was done using SPOT XS satellite imagery acquired in September 2007, visually identifying the infrastructure — well pads, service roads, yard facilities, and pipeline corridors — associated with developing the field. The analysis was verified using aerial photos from 2005, and GIS data on all gas and oil wells downloaded from the Wyoming Oil and Gas Commission on June 26, 2008:

The total area directly impacted by natural-gas drilling as of September 2007 was 5,194 acres.

Gas-and-oil infrastructure in the Pinedale Anticline field at that time included:

  • 353 well pads covering 2,521 acres with a median size of 6 acres
  • 10 facilities covering 586 acres with a median size of 11 acres
  • 161 miles of service roads covering 1,559 acres
  • 17 miles of pipeline corridor covering 527 acres