CASPER, Wyo. — Contractors will soon start installing half of a 232-mile pipeline through Wyoming to Montana that will move carbon dioxide to oil fields in both states.
Contractors for Plano, Texas-based Denbury Resources Inc. are assembling workers and equipment needed to install 115 miles of the 20-inch Greencore Pipeline, which will stretch across Natrona, Johnson and southern Campbell counties.
Denbury expects its contractors to begin work on the line in mid-August, pending a final go-ahead from federal regulators, and complete work in late October or early November.
"We plan to begin positioning crews and equipment during the next few weeks and hope to have the final regulatory approvals in the next two to three weeks," Denbury spokeswoman Laurie Burkes said in an email Monday.
Hillsboro, Ore.-based pipeline installation company Rockford Corp. will employ about half of the 600 contractors needed to install the pipeline. It is setting up a base of operations at the Casper/Natrona County International Airport.
The company is leasing 13 acres of vacant land at the airport to store equipment. The lease includes the old FedEx building, which provides for eight loading docks and office space, as well as some additional parking space, according to airport manager Glenn Januska.
Denver-based CH2M Hill, an engineering firm working for Denbury on the project, has arranged to lease its own building at the airport, Januska said.
Local hires will fill about half of the Rockford jobs, said Josh Ramsey, the company's vice president.
"This is the first time we've done a major pipeline in Wyoming," Ramsey said. "We've done smaller work there, but we're happy to be there and we hope it leads to more work in the area."
Rockford workers will install a 53-mile segment of the line that will stretch across parts of Natrona, Johnson and Campbell counties, and should be done by the end of October, Ramsey said.
"It crosses a lot of (Bureau of Land Management) property," he said. "Water is going to be a big issue, trying to find water for the project. And it's going to be a lot of time spent driving."
Another contractor, Houston-based Price Gregory International, will work simultaneously on an additional 62-mile segment, said John Filiatrault, Denbury vice president for CO2 supplies and pipelines. Price Gregory didn't answer a request for comment on Wednesday.
Both line segments are part of Denbury Resources' plan to connect ConocoPhillips' Lost Cabin natural gas plant in Fremont County to the Anadarko pipeline at a hub in Natrona County before turning northwest and terminating at the Bell Creek oil field in southeastern Montana. The pipeline is expected to cost between $275 million to $325 million.
The C02 shipped in the pipeline will be used to push hard-to-get oil out of oil fields. The process, known as enhanced oil recovery, involves pumping the CO2 underground to force out oil that would otherwise be uneconomical to bring to the surface.
The method has boosted production at a number of fields with sagging results in Wyoming, but has led to a shortage of CO2. Meanwhile, the Lost Cabin plant has vented CO2 — a greenhouse gas — into the air in recent years because of a lack of buyers.
The company expects to finish the remainder of the pipeline construction during the same period next year.
Denbury has aggressively expanded its presence in Wyoming in recent months, cutting deals for supplies of CO2 from several sources, including the under-construction DKRW Renewable Fuels coal-to-liquids plant near Medicine Bow.
In June, Denbury said it was buying full interest in the Riley Ridge methane and helium production plant near Big Piney. The plant will also produce CO2.
Denbury, which has interests in oil fields in Montana, is also getting into the oil production business in Wyoming.
The company will provide CO2 for oil recovery and has purchased a stake in the Grieve oil field just west of Casper, where it will pump CO2 for use in the enhanced oil recovery process there.