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Gas hunters will explore further in southwest Idaho

Canadian companies snooping in western Idaho for natural gas say they’ll drill 10 production wells this summer or in early fall in hopes of hitting the jackpot.

Bridge Resources Corp. and Paramax Resources Ltd., both of Calgary, recount favorable findings from three of five wells they’ve drilled so far near Payette and New Plymouth, according to the Lewiston Tribune.

Idaho has long been thought of as a natural gas and oil desert, with neighboring states like Wyoming to the east reaping the rewards of an energy-rich geology. But Bridge and Paramax are hoping to prove history and conventional wisdom wrong and turn Idaho at least into a minor player.

About 150 oil and gas wells were drilled in Idaho between 1903 and 1988, but none moved into commercial production.

Bridge Resources Vice President Tom Stewart says one of the larger wells drilled so far produced natural gas flows at rates that were better than the companies expected.

He says the next step will be to “define the prospect:” Complete seismic tests, get a better understanding of underground structures that may be characteristic of natural gas fields, then pick the most appropriate sites for new wells. Drilling should begin again in late summer or early fall.

Besides drilling the 10 production wells, he said, the companies expect to drill more exploratory wells, too.
The bonanza being reaped by energy-rich states such as Wyoming has helped fuel interest even in places like Idaho in recent years, as companies look to defy the odds.

Bob Brammer, in charge of the Minerals and Range Division of the Idaho Department of Lands, said the state has sold almost 200 natural gas leases to various companies over the past couple of years, covering 55,000 acres of state endowment land and reaping thousands of dollars for public schools.

The Idaho Department of State Lands in 2009 required Bridge to post a $25,000 bond before drilling.
The company is also required by state rules to cap dry well holes. If they hit a reserve and go into production, the state would get a 12.5 percent royalty.
With the flurry of auctions for drilling sites in recent years, however, Brammer thinks the potential for the state may be limited even if Bridge and Paramax find success.

“A lot depends on location, and I’d assume all the better locations have already been leased,” he said.



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