Ultra reports on changes to reduce emissions

Joy Ufford photos From back left, Ultra Resources’ Pinedale operation director Jim Ennis, environmental director Kelly Bott and CEO Jay Stratton from Denver talk with citizens Elaine Crumpley, left, and Carmel Kail.

Making a move before

winter snows blanket the Pinedale Anticline,

Ultra Resources officials came to Pinedale

on Wednesday, Nov. 15, to update the public

about changes made since last March’s unexpectedly

high ozone exceedances. News was

served up with hot pizza at Old Stone’s.

Ultra received notices of air-quality violations

last spring from the Wyoming Department

of Environmental Quality after inspectors

found many small leaks in Ultra and Pinedale

Energy equipment that likely contributed to

high pollutants that create ozone.

Winter ozone

The Upper Green River Basin’s winter

ozone was previously unknown, pushing operators

and scientists to learn about the invisible

tasteless gas, created in winter when direct

sunlight reflects off snow and “cooks” volatile

organic compounds and nitrogen oxides during

a temperature inversion at ground level.

Since then, operators, their employees,

DEQ staff, citizen groups and scientists have

worked to raise awareness about wintertime

ozone.

DEQ then set up its statewide air quality

network of live monitors around the Upper

Green River Basin and other oil and gas development

areas and issues “ozone action day”

warnings, which trigger contingency efforts to

reduce combustion. It has installed a new mobile

station on Paradise Road.

Ultra updates

The state and operators now focus on continuing

to reduce combustion emissions with

new technology and replacing traditional engines

with solar panels – one of Ultra’s proposals

that has happened since March, according

to Kelly Bott, environmental and regulatory

director.

“We replaced 350 pneumatic heat trace

pumps with solar power, which removes direct

emissions and reduces opportunities for leaks

and fugitive gas,” she said.

Ultra also purchased two more infrared

cameras to monitor fugitive emissions, bringing

the count to five, and trained 24 additional

staff as inspectors for a total of 37, she said.

“We have dedicated four full-time inspectors

to the Jonah and Pinedale fields,” Bott

said.

Another improvement is using the Supervisory

Control and Data Acquisition or SCADA

system to link offices to wells for “real time”

communications and responses, she said.

One new monitor at the New Fork River

Crossing Park and 11 more will be part of a

one-year internal audit while Ultra checks data

to see if this will help pinpoint problem polluting

sources.

“If a drilling rig is nearby, it could be

moved as a short-term contingency measure,”

Bott said. “We will have the unique position to

see what’s going on in the field every minute

of every day.”

Closer looks

Jasmine Allison, Pinedale environmental

and regulatory analyst, said Ultra is also increasing

inspections – “taking a closer look

more often.”

A major goal is to protect coworkers and

contractors from unhealthy ozone, with the internal

monitoring system adding more specific

and timely data.

“We want to protect our employees,” she

said. “We want to understand what’s going on

out there.”

Repairs will be streamlined – in the past,

an inspector such as Carrie Hatch would tag

a point that needed repair, tell a foreman and

check that someone had fixed it. Those repairs

should now be done within 24 hours.

“Our goal is to have it fixed by the next

day,” said Pinedale director of operations Jim

Ennis.

At this point in time, Ultra has no drilling

rigs in the Pinedale Anticline and doesn’t anticipate

any through the winter unless the market

improves, according to CEO Jay Stratton.

Pinedale Energy Partners has one in the Anticline

and in the Jonah Field, Jonah Energy

has five rigs.

“We don’t even know if we will have an

ozone season,” Bott said, with less oil and gas

MARBLETON  – The Marbleton Town

Council heard the news that the town has to

return tax money distributed last year and

recalled after a company wrongly paid states

sales taxes in Sublette County.

Town Clerk Shannon McCormick explained

to Mayor Jim Robinson and councilmembers

Jeff McCormick, Roger McMannis,

BJ Meador and Mack Bradley that Badger

Daylighting had wrongly paid taxes to the

state and county for equipment that was never

in Wyoming.

After Sublette County was told by the Department

of Revenue it needed to return more

than $1.6 million in tax revenues, commissioners

agreed that each municipality would

be on the hook for its share.

Marbleton’s share is $168,381.06, about

twice as much as Big Piney at $85,478.78.

Mayor Robinson said, “Badger Daylighting

was tagging all of its trucks in Wyoming

and therefore paid taxes in the county. Our

share is $168,381 and change.”

McCormick said Sublette County Treasurer

Emily Paravicini advised her that the town

could undertake a five-year payment plan to

the Department of Revenue.

“How does all this work?” Robinson asked.

“I’m not sure,” McCormick said. “Big Piney’s

not sure. We owe the state and the county

owes the state.”

Questions

Bradley asked if Badger had a tax

evasion scheme.

Town Attorney Thayne Peterson said the

whole situation “throws me.”

“This was Badger’s manipulation,” he

said. “I would recommend at this point in time

setting up a payment schedule and contact the

Attorney General’s Office and see if this is in

the works or if they are giving up.”

Robinson asked why the town or county

funds should be returned to the state. “My

wish at this time is to table this and do our

due diligence.”

McMannis said he felt the same way. “It’s

a manipulation by Badger – I think Badger

Marbleton tables repaying Badger sales tax

activity on the Pinedale Anticline.

Pre-winter ozone meeting

Ultra Resources and other operators and

groups will be at the Wyoming Department

of Environmental Quality’s annual Pre-Winter

Ozone Season Meeting for the public on Monday,

Nov. 18, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Boulder

Community Center, 304 Adams St., Boulder.

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