University of Colorado at Boulder
BMP of Oil and Gas Development

Spotlight: BP America’s Wamsutter Natural Gas Field Operations

BP was recognized with a 2008 BLM BMP Award for its approach to the management of its holdings in the Wamsutter Natural Gas Field in south-central Wyoming, which included drilling multiple wells on a single pad and using centralized production and storage facilities outside and away from areas of environmental interest. More information on BP’s Wamsutter efforts can be found at BMP ID 6282 and in this article from The Oil Drum.
BP continues to increase the number of wells drilled per pad:

  • Early in the development of Wamsutter Field, BP drilled 8 vertical wells per square mile (80 acre spacing). This original vertical well arrangement was costly to service and maintain, as each well required separate roads, service people, pipelines, tanks, and other infrastructure.
  • In 2005, BP decided to change the Wamsutter gas field management to maximize productivity as a tight gas facility. One of the major changes made was to well spacing.
  • Now, instead of drilling 8 vertical wells per square mile, BP drills up to 8 deviated wells from a single pad using drilling rigs capable of drilling one well and moving directly to the next without being taken apart, transported, and put back together again.
  • BP has filed for approval to change the spacing to one well per 40 acres, a change that would allow for up to 16 wells on a pad instead of 8.

Benefits of multi-well pad drilling include:

  • Reducing the area of disturbed land;
  • Fewer roads are required, reducing infrastructure and servicing costs;
  • Drilling costs were reduced by up to fifty percent, because the rigs, rented on a daily basis, did not have to be taken apart, transported, and put back together between drilling each well.
  • Hydrocarbon recovery increased by up to forty percent

BP is working on R&D for new BMPs, including:

  • Remote monitoring: transmitting relevant information electronically, reducing the need for service people to check each well on a regular basis;
  • Electrification of wells: using a larger group of solar panels together with batteries to produce the electricity needed to transmit information to the office and to separate natural gas from the water produced. BP is also considering adding a windmill to some pads;
  • Cordless seismic imaging: working with outside contractors on Firefly®, a land seismic imaging system that uses battery operated units that transmit signals to the office;
  • Horizontal wells: BP is planning to test horizontal wells and compare the economics of them to traditional vertical wells.