Breaking Down the Reclamation Process of an Oil and Gas Company
KREX News Room
GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo.- Brian Whiteley, an award-winning reclamation construction coordinator for Encana Oil and Gas, loves to talk shop.
His job is to make sure lands are returned to better condition than they were before drilling began. "Oil and gas is held to a higher standard than any other industry," said Whiteley.
He says the rest of the state has to reach a 70 percent vegetation standard, whereas oil and gas must maintain at least 80 percent. "It doesn't seem like much, but it's a very high standard in a dry land environment."
Each site varies, but on average, the initial drilling phases of an oil pad can use around five acres, as well as nearby roads.
In order to restore the landscape afterward, Encana reseeds the lands to the owner's specifications, whether federal or private. "[This] is three years of revegetation," said Whiteley, referring to a site in Battlement Mesa.
On federal lands, Encana must use visual and audio tactics to become nearly invisible to the passerby.
Walls made out of dirt keep equipment noise below the required decibels. "It also acts as a visual screen," added Whiteley.
All equipment on well pads situated on federal lands have to be painted a specific color based on the natural habitat of that area. In the Bureau of Land Management's Pinyon-Juniper Woodlands, that color is shadow gray.
Once the entire site is dead, all equipment is removed and the ground is filled in. Constructed boulder walls come down to recontour the area, which is mixed with mulch and spread to retain moisture. "That's a significant advantage when you're trying to restore habitat," Whiteley noted. "If we can leave it better than we found it, then we're achieving our management objectives."