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An EOG Resources oil rig is seen from County Road 135 on Jan. 3 in Laramie County. Increased energy activity resulted in a positive first-quarter 2019 report for Wyoming and Cheyenne. WTE/file

CHEYENNE – Construction of a well pad is slated to start later this month, as EOG Resources, one of the largest oil and gas companies in the country, prepares to start new oil drilling operations in April.

The drilling operation is located east of Cheyenne and north of Interstate 80, near the Triple Crown and Durham Estates neighborhoods.

On Thursday, EOG Resources held an open house for residents surrounding the drilling area to share concerns, get more information on the process and sign up to have their water quality tested.

In a written statement to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, EOG communications manager Creighton Welch wrote, “EOG employees are active members of the Cheyenne community, and we work to be as transparent as possible about our upcoming activity.”

A few years back, EOG Resources had plans to drill in the same area, but with four well pads instead of one.

The well pads ended up being close enough to landowners in the area that EOG held off on drilling after hearing residents’ concerns.

Due to EOG Resources consolidating the pads and using directional drilling, the singular well pad that will be constructed will be more than 1,000 feet from the closest residents. According to company representatives, a number of mitigation techniques are being used to minimize the impact on surrounding areas.

The major concerns residents shared about the project were related to water quality, noise and light pollution, flaring and increased traffic. Representatives from EOG Resources talked residents through the steps they were taking to mitigate any harm, but residents were still wary of the possible effects to their property.

“Our concern, as always, is the effect on our water supply,” Diane McKillip said at the open house.

EOG Resources is required to obtain baseline samples from four water wells within a half-mile radius of the proposed wellhead before drilling begins. But at the open house, any concerned resident was able to sign up for a free water test.

For Monika Leininger, organizer for the Powder River Basin Resource Council, health and safety issues are the biggest concern. Noise and light pollution both are results of drilling operations, and Leininger has heard firsthand how they can affect residents.

“I hear from landowners all the time that they’re not able to sleep at night because they’re hearing the sound of operations going on 24/7, and the light will shine right through their windows, regardless of blinds,” Leininger said.

EOG Resources will use directional lighting in an attempt to lessen light pollution and will build a taller berm around the wells to contain some light and sound. But safety regulations require a certain level of safety-related illumination.

Another cause for concern related to light and sound is the flaring that will take place at the operation. Commonly used in oil and gas production, flaring is a combustion device that burns unwanted or excess gases and liquids to relieve pressure.

The practice can be quite noisy and can be used as much as needed until 15 days after the well is completed. At the open house, some residents voiced concerns about fire hazards caused by the practice.

“I can understand how landowners out on these dry plains are worried about a well 1,000 feet away from them,” Leininger said.

Residents also voiced concerns about their property values, which Leininger said could be impacted by the drilling site.

Construction is currently slated to start later this month, and drilling operations are set to begin mid- to late April. During that time, traffic and personnel on the site will increase. Once the drilling and completion activities are finished, permanent production facilities will be installed at the location.

Margaret Austin is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s local government reporter. She can be reached at maustin@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3152. Follow her on Twitter at @MargaretMAustin.

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