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Summer Field Program - August 8 - 13, 2005

Trip Summary

The 2005 EMFI Government Field Program began on Monday, August 8, with a Welcoming Breakfast at the Golden Hotel in Golden, Colorado. Dr. Dag Nummedal, Director of the Colorado Energy Research Institute (CERI), was introduced and provided a comprehensive overview of the status of energy production and consumption in the U.S., noting the roles to be played by the various energy resources the field program was about to visit. Dr. Gary Baughman, Director of the EMFI and Director of the Office of Special Programs and Continuing Education (SPACE) at CSM, then introduced the EMFI staff: Mr. Jim Proud, Mr. Oscar Galvis, Ms. Melody Francisco, and Mr. Erling Brostuen. Mr. Proud and Mr. Galvis handled many of the logistical arrangements for the trip and were largely responsible for preparation of the Field Guide. Ms. Francisco handled all of the program meals and lodging, and provided other logistical support. Mr. Brostuen, the former Director of the EMFI, was instrumental in making initial contacts with the site hosts.

Dr. Baughman also introduced the Program's primary Resource Expert, Mr. John Rold. Mr. Rold, now a consultant, was Director of the Colorado Geological Survey for 24 years and also has many years of experience in the energy and minerals industry. Given that the geology of the Rocky Mountains is largely responsible for all of the energy


Jeff Roedell of Chevron describes the drilling process
to Brian Caruso (EPA).

resources to be discussed during the program, from the formation of the coal, oil, and natural gas deposits, to the topography which provides excellent solar and hydro resources, it is essential that the participants become familiar with that geology during the trip. Mr. Rold provided commentary throughout the trip on the geology of the region, as well as a wealth of other information, including geography, history, agriculture, current events, and philosophy, interspersed with his special brand of humor!

Also introduced were two resource experts from the Colorado School of Mines who participated in the entire program - Dr. Ramona Graves, a Professor in the CSM Petroleum Engineering Department, and Dr. John Cuddington, Coulter Professor in the Division of Economics and Business.

Each of the participants then introduced themselves and identified their respective affiliations. The 2005 participants represented a number of federal offices, both Congressional and Executive, and also had a wide range of professional experience. During the course of the program, participants were encouraged to share information regarding their agencies and organizations.

Dr. Baughman then provided an overview of the various operational details of the trip, ranging from the importance of punctuality and attendance at all scheduled activities, to the use of the "communicators" and the "All-a-Board," to the prohibition on cellphone use during the instructional portions of the trip.

The final introduction of the morning was Mr. Rod West the bus driver from Gray Lines - in whose hands we placed our lives for much of the remainder of the trip! Rod proved to be not only an outstanding driver, maneuvering the 47-passenger bus into places most of us would have trouble driving cars, but also a personable traveling companion who joined us on most site visits.


Mike Heben of NREL explains nanotube chemistry to Bonnie Cannon (Office of Rep. Cubin), Aaron Flynn (CRS), Jim Proud (EMFI), and other participants.
The participants then loaded onto the bus (their luggage having been loaded by the EMFI staff during breakfast) and headed for the first site visit of the trip - the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The NREL visit had been organized by Lee Boughey, Stakeholder Partnerships Manager at NREL. The participants were welcomed to NREL by Chris Phoebe, Acting Manager of the DOE Golden Field Office, and by Bob Noun, Deputy Associate Director of NREL. The group first visited the Alternative Fuels User Facility where Andy Aden and Bob Wallace explained the Biomass Process Development Unit used for converting cellulosic and hemicellulosic material into energy fuels. At the Field Test Laboratory Building, the participants learned about NREL's hydrogen production and storage research from Lynnae Boyd.

The group then broke up into two groups, one going to the Photo-Biological Hydrogen Production Laboratory with Maria Ghirardi, and the other learning about carbon nanoscience as applied to hydrogen storage from Mike Heben.

Following lunch, the attendees were introduced to NREL's photovoltaic research by Roland Hulstrom, Deputy Director of the National Center for Photovoltaics. Moving on to the Outdoor Test Facility, the EMFI participants learned about the practical aspects of photovoltaics from Peter McNutt. The final stop on the NREL tour was at the National Wind Technology Center, located several miles north of Golden. Here, Bob Thresher, Director of the NWTC familiarized the participants with all aspects of NREL's wind energy program. Jim Johnson, Site Engineer, then gave the participants a tour of the blade testing laboratory where massive wind turbine blades were being statically and dynamically tested.

The participants then boarded the bus and headed for Glenwood Springs for the evening. The trip up I-70 through the Eisenhower Tunnel and Glenwood Canyon provided an outstanding opportunity for John Rold to acquaint the participants with the geology of the region. John provided a basic introduction to geology and also a commentary on the various issues related to construction of I-70 and the natural hazards of the area (landslide mitigation, rock slides, floods, land use issues, etc.). Interestingly, one week after we drove this route, a major rockslide onto I-70 near Idaho Springs halted traffic for over seven hours and disrupted traffic on the interstate highway for over one week! While such an event would have made John's remarks more pertinent, we were grateful that the event occurred after our program.

Arriving at the Historic Hotel Colorado, the participants checked in and were then "on their own" for the evening. Some found interesting trails to hike, others located the local dining establishments, and one group even geared up for their own barbeque and feasted in a local park!

The second day began at 7:30 am with breakfast in the hotel. Duane Zavadil, representing the Bill Barrett Corporation, provided an introduction to his company's tight gas sands drilling operations in the Mamm Creek area, and explained the directional drilling technology being used. The bus was loaded and we headed for Silt, Colorado, where Mr. Zavadil joined us on the bus for the short ride up to Barrett's drilling operations.

The drilling rig was just being set up, so it afforded the participants an opportunity to walk around and climb onto the rig without the major safety concerns associated with operating rigs. Zavadil explained in detail how the drilling operations are conducted, how increased subsurface well density is achieved with directional drilling, how the complex lenticular reservoir characteristics dictate/permit various drilling approaches, and how the whole process is regulated by various state and federal agencies. The tall "light screen" surrounding the drilling site also highlighted the efforts being made by Barrett to mitigate the visual impact of the operations on neighboring residents.


Duane Zavadil of Bill Barrett Corporation explains the operation of
a tri-cone drill bit to participants at the Mamm Creek drilling site.

At 11:00 am, the Barrett tour was completed and the bus headed to Battlement Mesa, for lunch and a panel discussion on energy development in the Piceance Creek area hosted by Mesa State College. The meeting was held in the Battlement Mesa Activity Center, which highlighted the fact that the creation of the entire Battlement Mesa community was the result of the oil shale boom/bust of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The community discussion was moderated by Kathy Hall, Principal with Kathy Hall & Associates and Director of the Western Oil and Gas Association. On the panel were David Foster, an attorney specializing in split-estate issues (surface rights held by one party and the mineral rights held by another); Art Goodtimes, a Commissioner from San Miguel County, a Club 20 Board Member, and a member of the BLM Resource Advisory Council; Larry Kent, District Manager for the Western Slope Franchise of Halliburton; and Craig Meis, Mesa County Commissioner and CEO of Cordilleran Compliance Services. Following presentations by the panelists, a lively Q&A session with the participants followed, expanding on the legal, political, technical, and environmental issues raised. The EMFI is grateful to Craig Glogowski, Rick Adleman, and others at Mesa State College for organizing this event.

Departing the Activity Center at 2:00 pm, the bus headed into the Piceance Basin to Shell Exploration and Production Company's Mahogany Oil Shale Project, where we were met by Terry O'Connor, Vice President for External & Regulatory Affairs at Shell Unconventional Resource Energy. Following a briefing by Mr. O'Connor, the participants loaded onto the bus for the short ride up to pilot project, where Operations Manager Ken Brown candidly answered a host of questions regarding the company's pilot project and the plans for the next phase of research. The pilot tests to date, involving the slow heating of the oil shale using downhole electrical resistance heaters, has been very successful. In addition, the initial tests to create an "ice wall" to isolate the shale oil production area have been encouraging. The next series of tests, hopefully involving an area to be leased under the new BLM leasing program, is scheduled to be completed by 2010 and a decision regarding the future commercialization of the technology will be made at that time. At 5:00 pm, the participants concluded the Shell tour and headed towards Craig for the evening, with dinner at a local restaurant and lodging at the Holiday Inn.

Wednesday began with breakfast at the hotel at 7:00 am, followed by a brief bus ride to the Trapper Coal Mine, which produces nearly 2 million tons per year. The site visit began with presentations by Ray DuBois, President and General Manager of Trapper Mining, along with a number of other Trapper personnel. A presentation was also provided by Stuart Sanderson, President of the Colorado Mining Association and Dianna Orf, lobbyist for the CMA. Surprisingly, the weather included some light-to-heavy drizzle, making the bus drive into the mine rather "interesting." One of the highlights of the trip was the opportunity to get onto a working dragline, so the participants did not hesitate to follow our guide, Forrest Luke, and walk through the mud to reach the dragline, even though the bus could only get within about 100 yards of the site. Every few steps added several inches to everyone's height, but the effort was worth it. Unfortunately, the mud that could not be scraped off prior to boarding the bus again ended up on the bus floor - and we owe a debt of gratitude to Rod, the driver, for his patience and janitorial efforts that evening!


EMFI participants taking photos inside the dragline bucket at the Trapper Coal Mine.

The Trapper Mine has received many awards for its reclamation efforts, and the participants had the opportunity to see first-hand the results of those efforts and appreciate the emphasis put on environmental issues by the company. While there are, indeed, a number of "bad actors" in the Western coal industry, it was pointed out that Trapper's environmental efforts are more the industry norm than the exception.

Following lunch at the Trapper Mine, the EMFI bus headed down the road to Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association's Craig Station, which turns Trapper's coal into electricity. Following an introductory presentation by Jim Mattern, the Engineering Manager, the participants were treated to a comprehensive tour of the 1,274-megawatt facility, including the opportunity to look directly into the operating boiler. Our thanks to Bob Baca, Sharon Green, and their colleagues for an excellent tour. The visit also proved valuable in drying out everyone's clothes following the rather soggy visit to the Trapper Mine!

Following final questions and answers, and exchanging cards, the participants left the Craig Station at 3:30 pm and headed for Meeker, Colorado and the historic Meeker Hotel. There we were greeted with some surprises, as Vice President Cheney has stayed in the Meeker area one day before and the support personnel (communications, Secret Service, etc.) had taken over the entire hotel. Without sufficient time to completely restore order, a few room changes were required - but the participants took everything in stride and most found the Meeker Hotel to be "quaint," "rustic," and having lots of "character!" Following dinner at the hotel, the participants enjoyed the local flavor of Meeker.

The next morning, after breakfast at the Meeker Hotel, the bus headed west toward Rangely, Colorado and Chevron's (the corporate "ChevronTexaco" name has been replaced) Rangely oil field. Here we were introduced to the history of the field by Ron Wackowski and Jeff Roedell, from its discovery in 1901 (Mancos shale), to the drilling of the Raven A-1 discovery well (in the Weber Unit) in 1933, to initial development in the 1940s, to secondary recovery using water flooding in the 1960s and 1970s, to the

more recent CO2 tertiary recovery efforts which began in 1986. The group first visited the Raven A-1 discovery well, then visited an operating drilling rig. Finally a brief visit to a production well and separation unit completed the tour. Upon returning to the office conference room, the site visit ended with lunch and more questions and answers.

The participants then began a two-hour bus ride to Flaming Gorge Dam, during which time some seized the opportunity to work on their critiques of the previous site visits and activities. In addition, participant Jim Kinney gave a brief on-bus review of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in preparation for the Flaming Gorge visit. Upon arriving at the Visitors Center, the participants were welcomed by Warren Blanchard, Plant Manager, and a formal presentation on the Colorado River Storage Project, the 502-foot-high Flaming Gorge Dam, and the 108-MW Hydroelectric Power Station. An excellent tour of the dam and power plant followed, including stops at the generators, seeing the rotating turbine shafts "up close and personal," visiting the in-dam facilities, and the obligatory stop to feed the huge trout at the base of the dam.


The Flaming Gorge Dam

The drive between the dam and Rock Springs, Wyoming, provided not only dramatic panoramic views, but also an opportunity for the participants to gather with their "evaluation panels" and conduct their evaluations of the trip to date. Lodging and the dinner meal was at the Outlaw Inn in Rock Springs, where a few of the participants found the local bowling alley and nearby watering holes.


Bonnie Cannon (Office of Rep. Cubin) learns about Questar's drilling rig from Ron Hogan, General Manager of Questar's Pinedale Division.

Breakfast on Friday morning was at 6:30 am, providing sufficient time for the drive to Pinedale, Wyoming - "ground zero" when it comes to gas development in the Rocky Mountain West. On the ride to Pinedale, participant Mitch Leverette of the BLM provided an introduction to the mission of the agency, setting the stage for the meeting with personnel from the Pinedale office of the BLM scheduled later in the day.

Similar to the directional drilling of tight gas sands seen earlier near Silt, Colorado, the participants had an opportunity to visit a large drilling rig in the Pinedale Anticline operated by Questar. While Barrett Corporation's wells in Mamm Creek were typically 7,000-8,000 feet deep, Questar's directional drilling program involves wells down to 14,500 feet. For both environmental and financial reasons, the company plans to drill 16 or more wells from a single pad, with subsurface well spacing of up to 10 acres. Ron Hogan, General Manager of the Pinedale Division of Questar, explained the company's drilling program, including its proposal to BLM for year-round drilling - designed to minimize environmental impacts, shorten the total drilling time (from 18 to 9 years), help stabilize the local economy, and improve operational efficiency. Questar enabled the EMFI participants to get onto one of its operating drilling rigs and went in considerable detail at the site regarding the drilling equipment, the hydrofracturing process and materials, and the environmental efforts being made.

 

Upon returning to Pinedale, lunch was served in the library, followed by a presentation by Bill Lanning and Roger Bankert of the Pinedale office of the Bureau of Land Management. They candidly discussed the role of BLM in balancing the desires and demands of the various stakeholders regarding energy development in the Pinedale Anticline and the Jonah Field near Pinedale. The socioeconomics of the area, existing land use, concerns of local residents, split-estate issues, environmental concerns regarding wildlife, and the various proposals submitted by the industry were all introduced and addressed in the question and answer session.

Departing Pinedale at 2:00 pm, the bus headed north to Grand Teton National Park. Enroute, participant Colin Campbell from the National Park Service provided some background on the geography and socioeconomics of Jackson Hole, noting that Jackson currently has the second most expensive housing market in the U.S. Lodging on Friday evening was in the Jackson Lake Lodge cottages and dinner was a barbeque by the pool. Joining us at the barbeque was Jim Bellamy, Deputy Superintendent of GTNP. Participants were then free to enjoy the scenery and shop at the Jackson Lake Lodge for those last-minute souvenirs and gifts for the family.


Saturday began with a breakfast meeting, in which the Park Superintendent, Mary Gibson Scott, provided a concise overview of the Park, including its history, status, and plans for the future. A bus tour of the Park was then conducted by Sue Consolo-Murphy, Chief of Science and Resource Management at GTNP. Getting off the bus at several sites, the participants were able to view the spectacular scenery and learn much about the Park, its natural resources, and its potential role as a "control" in environmental studies related to energy development in the area.


EMFI participants at Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park.

For lunch, the bus stopped at a picnic area where the EMFI Director, Gary Baughman, moderated a WrapUp Session, in which the participants were encouraged to reflect on the week's activities, offer their ideas for improvements and ways to keep the Institute topical for future attendees, and identify mechanisms by which financial support for the Institute can be enhanced.

The bus then headed to Jackson Hole Airport (GTNP is the only National Park with an airport within its boundaries - a fact that remains a contentious issue) where participants either boarded planes back to their homes or picked up rental cars to tour the area more extensively. The bus then headed back to Golden via Rock Springs with the EMFI staff and several participants who had originated in Denver and Rock Springs.

Settling in for the long bus ride back to Golden, with expected stops in Rock Springs to drop off the EMFI "chase car" at the rental agency, and a stop in Rawlins, Wyoming to change drivers, it appeared that the excitement of the trip was over. But it was not to be -- in Pinedale, the bus broke down due to a broken fitting on the fuel filter! Fortunately, the event occurred near an ice cream and burger stand, and a diesel mechanic was located to repair the bus. With a delay of only about two hours, the bus was on its way again to Golden, arriving back in Golden about midnight - bringing to an end another successful and rewarding EMFI Government Field Program.


Group photo in front of the Raven A-1 Discovery Well in the Rangely Oil Field operated by Chevron.

 

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