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The Daily Sentinel (Colorado): Club 20 keeps an eye on Piceance water study

By BOBBY MAGILL
Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Club 20 Oil Shale Task Force is keeping an eye on a proposal for a federal study of the availability of water for energy development in the Piceance Basin — a study in which oil shale development company Royal Dutch Shell plans to provide information.

The task force agreed Wednesday it will invite a representative of the U.S. Geological Survey to its next meeting in late March to update the group on a groundwater monitoring project for the Piceance Basin that will study how energy development, including oil shale, will affect water quality there.

The results of the study will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the Bureau of Land Management’s guidelines for energy development in the region, according to a letter presented at the task force meeting written last year by BLM White River Field Manager Kent Walter to Ken Jackson of Chevron Corp. in Houston.

The study would analyze stream flow and ecology, groundwater, precipitation and sources of sediment and salinity.

It also may conduct watershed modeling and create maps of land disturbance from energy development.

James Thurman, of Shell, said the company contributed some of its data for the study. The information is proprietary, however.

Shell, he said, is unclear about the intent of the study.

Glenn Vawter of EGL Resources, which is researching oil shale in the Piceance Basin, said more information is necessary about the project, but he thinks the study is focused on the water resources “required or desirable for the commercial exploitation of oil shale.”

The USGS will be invited to the next task force meeting March 21 to brief its members on the details of the study.

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