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Suite 4400 500 Centre Street S E
Calgary, Alberta,T2P 2S5
Encana Corporation ("Encana") is a leading North American energy producer that is focused on developing its strong portfolio of resource plays, held directly and indirectly through its subsidiaries, producing natural gas, oil and natural gas liquids (NGLs). By... more.
Encana and the Lifespan Planning Approach (LPA)
Despite this, Parachute, Colorado Encana Reclamation coordinator, Bryan Whiteley, insists that Lifespan Planning isn't time consuming, it just involves thoughtful analysis of available information every step of the way in order to maximize efficiency.
Geologists decide where they'd like a surface location in an area of known mineral rights and analyze the site for the maximum amount of wells the site could potentially hold. Once the limits of the site are established, inventory and analysis of wild communities guide the Reclamation Coordinator as he designs the build. The entire lifespan, including all phases of drilling, production, and reclamation, of the location is considered prior to drilling activity. Encana Reclamation coordinator, Bryan Whiteley, discusses how he designs custom seed mixes to best suit the ecoregion to be reclaimed. Whiteley explained that before Encana had acquired the land in the pasture before us, a cattle rancher owned and grazed there. Whiteley said that before they bought the property, the land manager had given his cattle free range and did little to maintain the meadow. The cattle compacted soils, caused erosion, upset nutrient balances and native plant abundances, and introduced noxious and invasive weeds. Since then, Encana has restored the land to its pre-grazed condition. Whiteley revealed that he get's deep satisfaction from being able to leave the land in a better condition than he finds it, and assures that whenever possible, Encana makes a policy of doing so. When asked about seed mixes used, Whiteley revealed that the mix was of his own design based on his immense knowledge of range management and concluded by emphasizing that "in a range like this, only natives will work." Berming, as Whiteley explained, was key in visual and noise impact reduction as well as a crucial component of spill containment and pollution prevention. Following our first look at a well pad, we got back into the car to head to more recently designed and constructed production sites. Upon arriving at one such site, I immediately understood what Whiteley had meant when he said "contrast is a beautiful thing. Compared to the other site, the newer well pad's elegant efficiency was almost invisible until you were walking right up to it. Whiteley explained that using a Lifespan Planning Approach to design sites was the key to Encana's reclamation success. Whiteley explains that a site like this one requires almost no maintenance until final reclamation due to wise planning. Using such a system has contributed to Encana's reputation and has helped to significantly reduce production costs. We visited many well pads over the day, but all the newer sites developed with the Lifespan Planning Approach in mind had several features in common. They all had extensive earthwork that was designed specifically based on the contours and hydrologic patterns of the surrounding area, had mulch and interim seeding to minimize erosion, water loss and invasive seed colonization, and had waddles and slash berms to filter sediment. When asked about his job and the physical and metal load that was required to make such efficient and sustainable well sites, Whiteley merely said that "The great thing about my job is that all I need to do is the right thing.
Encana and the Lifespan Planning Approach (LPA)
Whitely explains that "in a harsh range like this one, only natives will work."
When I got to the meeting spot, Encana Reclamation Coordinator Bryan Whitely stood outside his white pick-up truck with hard hats, jumpsuits and protective eyewear, clearly ready to start the day. As we piled in to head out, Whitely began passionately explaining how things had changed in the industry. "Contrast is a beautiful thing" he said as we pulled up to our first stop. Whitely explained how they had used a process known as land-forming to introduced hydrologic variation in the landscape, more in keeping with the land's natural state, in order to promote native establishment and diversity. Whitely then took us to production sites that had been designed and constructed before he began working for Encana at a time when the impacts of oil and gas development were poorly understood. Whitely excavates the area to be drilled so that he can form the resulting soil into large berms. These berms completely encircle the well pad, offering spill containment, noise and visual impact reduction, and prevent stormwater pollution and sedimentation by containing and filtering them on site. The site's elegance resides in the fact that Whiteley seeds and mulches the berms to minimize soil loss by erosion during production, making the well pad, from a distance, look like nothing more than a gentle hill. When production activities stop, the well can be completed and the top soils simply pushed back to their original position. Whitely then land forms the area to restore its natural hydrologic patterns, mulches, and finally re-seeds the area.
"Breaking Down the Reclamation Process of an Oil and Gas Company: "...GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo.- Brian Whiteley, an award-winning reclamation construction coordinator for Encana Oil and Gas, loves to talk shop.
His job is to make sure lands are returned to better condition than they were before drilling began. "Oil and gas is held to a higher standard than any other industry," said Whiteley..." " (Video, KREX) (Colorado)- http://www.krextv.com/news/around-the-region/Touring-the-Reclamation-Process-of-an-Oil-and-Gas-Company-159957665.html
GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo. - Brian Whiteley, an award-winning reclamation construction coordinator for Encana Oil and Gas, loves to talk shop.
His job is to make sure lands are returned to better condition than before drilling began. "Oil and gas is held to a higher standard than any other industry," said Whiteley. He says the rest of the state has to reach a 70 percent vegetation standard, whereas oil and gas must maintain at least 80 percent. "It doesn't seem like much, but it's a very high standard in a dry land environment," added Whiteley. Each site varies, but on average, the initial drilling phases of an oil pad can use around five acres, as well as nearby roads. In order to restore the landscape afterward, Encana reseeds the lands to the owner's specifications (whether it's federal or private). "(This) is three years of re-vegetation," said Whiteley, referring to a site in Battlement Mesa. On federal lands, Encana must use visual and audio tactics to become nearly invisible to the passerby. Walls created out of dirt keep equipment noise below the required decibels. "It also acts as a visual screen," added Whiteley. All equipment on well pads situated on federal lands have to be painted a specific color based on the natural habitat of that area. In the Bureau of Land Management's Pinyon-Juniper Woodlands, that color is shadow gray. Once the entire site is dead, all equipment is removed and the ground is filled in. Constructed boulder walls come down to re-contour the area, which is mixed with mulch and spread roughly to retain moisture. "That's a significant advantage when you're trying to restore habitat," Whiteley noted.
Bryan Whiteley, a resident of Battlement Mesa, is the reclamation and construction coordinator for Encana in Garfield County.
He is in charge of building the massive berms, conducting the revegetation and creating the land forms that cover up scars on the landscape created by drilling and other industry activities. Speaking at the monthly meeting of the Garfield County Energy Advisory Board on Thursday in Rifle, Whiteley explained that the most important aspect of his work is preserving topsoil. "You do poor topsoil management, you end up with poor reclamation," he told his audience of about 25 people, seated in a conference room at the Rifle Branch Library. The best way to preserve topsoil, Whiteley said, is to deposit it into separate storage piles so different types of soil are not irretrievably mixed up. These soils can be shaped into berms to surround a drilling site or some other work area. Once there, he said, it is left alone until needed as much as 30 years or more later, when reclamation goes into high gear at the end of the well's productive life. Reclamation work, Whiteley explained, involves close coordination of multiple departments within a drilling company and with governmental agencies. Working together, the company and agencies analyze the topography, soil makeup, moisture potential and other parameters of the environment surrounding a drilling site. Then they determine the nature of the preparations needed to yield the best potential reclamation outcome, once the well site is abandoned after 30 years or more and the final reclamation work is undertaken. During the decades between the commencement of drilling and the final reclamation phase, Whiteley explained, there are interim reclamation measures conducted that are less extensive than the final phase. Other key aspects of the work, he said, include the type of seed used in revegetation efforts, the type of land forms used for containment of the drilling site and in the reclamation once that site is abandoned, and how the topsoil is redistributed for the final phase. According to Whiteley, soil type influences revegetation. Loamy soils, he said, typically yield grasses, while aggregate type soils encourage the propagation of shrubs and piñon-juniper stands. Reclamation also is heavily dependent on whose land is being reclaimed, he told the EAB. Federal land managers have regulations that narrowly structure the reclamation process, including what kind of vegetation should be used. Private landowners are less predictable, he said. The attitude of private landowners, according to Whiteley, is that it is their property and "it's none of your fracking business" how it looks after the drilling is finished. "Sometimes they want to put barns, trailers and other things on it," he said of reclaimed rig sites. So the landowner may request that the land be left flat rather than contoured or shaped back the way it was prior to drilling. The final reclamation phase, Whiteley said, is the most important, and he showed slides of certain well pad sites that looked green and healthy compared to their appearance during the drilling and other activities.