Brain Maffly – The Salt Lake Tribune
As much as 3 million cubic feet of natural gas a day goes up in flames on the Cane Creek oil field outside Moab.
Imagine putting a match to a 150-bill stack of C-notes. Every day. That’s what Fidelity Exploration and Production Co. has been doing the past couple of years, flaring the excess fuel.
Last year, the company burned more than $2 million in natural gas. And Fidelity managers want to keep burning — at least in the short term.
Blaming delays associated with a Bureau of Land Management permitting process, Fidelity executives appeared before Utah oil and gas regulators Wednesday asking for another extension of their exemption from state flaring limits.
Fidelity environmental affairs manager Mike Keller told the Oil, Gas and Mining Board that Utah BLM managers approved the field’s gathering lines late on Oct. 2 and then insisted the oil and gas developer notify all 321 recreation outfitters that use the Big Flat project area over a three-week period.
Keller said those requirements cost the company thousands of dollars and set back construction of pipelines that are supposed to reduce the need for flaring.
In the end, the board extended Fidelity’s license to flare through March 31, when the company hopes to have a $70 million two-phase pipeline project operational.
Utah environmentalists have argued Fidelity should be ordered to choke back oil production rather than be allowed to torch the natural gas that comes up with the oil.