Oil & Natural Gas Projects
Exploration and Production Technologies
Adaptive Management and Planning Models for Cultural Resources in Oil and Gas
Fields in New Mexico and Wyoming
The project was selected under the PUMP III (Preferred Upstream Management Practices)
solicitation DE-PS26-02NT15378 issued on February 13, 2002. One goal of the
solicitation was to overcome environmental regulatory barriers whose resolution
would result in an increase of near-term oil production from onshore or offshore
Federal, State, Tribal, or private land. Proposals were requested to develop
data systems or methodologies that enable petroleum-permitting agencies to make
decisions more quickly and efficiently and to better use scientific information
about the environmental risks of a given operation.
The overarching goal is to maximize energy production on public lands through
better management practices of archaeological resources. The specific project
goal is to design information tools and management procedures for cultural resource
management in oil and gas exploration areas that result in better-informed and
more rapid decision making in oil exploration and extraction processes.
Carson City, NV
New Mexico State Historic Preservation Office
Santa Fe, NM
Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office
Statistical Research Inc. Foundation
Rio Rancho, NM
Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
U.S. Forest Service (USFS)
The project team created a user-friendly, web accessible data analysis/tracking
system and digital datasets (project libraries) for the two major study areas:
Wyoming's Powder River Basin and southeastern New Mexico. The SE New Mexico
study area was analyzed using a series of statistical models to evaluate how
fieldwork could be conducted more efficiently. Similarly, the Wyoming study
area was analyzed to evaluate how the risk of encountering "expensive"
archaeological resources could be quantified. Several information systems for
cultural resources were developed or enhanced as well, to convey new kinds of
information-including the models and analyses-and to provide work flow information
management that is both more appropriate and more comprehensive. These management
information systems are being made available to cultural resources professionals
and (with appropriate safeguards for sensitive locations) to non-professional
managers and land-users, especially energy producers. The analytical, managerial,
cybernetic, and field components are being summarized into a series of programmatic
recommendations about best practices for the management of archaeology within
high-use public land settings.
Many benefits of this project already are being realized. Participants in the
cultural resource management process in the New Mexico and Wyoming study areas
have around-the-clock access to electronic maps and databases used in planning,
evaluation, and compliance at a much reduced cost for State and Federal governments
as well as energy companies and the public. Prior to this project, access to
this information would have required in-person research at state historical
office archives and/or other State and Federal offices. Detailed information
is now available at one's desktop, and the information is of better quality.
Various kinds of information have been created by the project, such as map layers
and "forecasts" of archaeological occurrences that give potential
users of the public lands estimates of the risk that their land use will encounter
significant archaeology. Stewardship of the cultural resources is enhanced by
informed decision making, facilitated through ready access to what has been
done by other archaeological groups working a given site. Systematic, programmatic
changes in the conduct of archaeology and site management eventually will follow
as new ways of doing business are proven to have value.
Cultural resources often are considered impediments to development of oil and
gas fields and access right-of-ways (roadways, electrical utilities, water and
product pipelines, etc.). In general, surface archaeological sites in petroleum
production areas are simply avoided. This saves mitigation costs but creates
a production landscape constrained by archaeological sites, limiting the potential
for infill drilling and forcing development into illogical geographic patterns,
as it is the subsurface geology that controls well location. The "problem"
with archaeological resources in petroleum development is not necessarily the
direct cost of archaeological investigation. The typical cost of a cultural
resources inventory for a well pad and access road is approximately $1,000,
a fraction of a percent of the cost of a well itself (roughly $800,000 to $1,500,000).
Siting, drilling, and completing wells typically have a fairly short planning
window. The economic conditions that make a well attractive may change. Delays
due to cultural resources hamper production by tying up capital in idle crews,
unused leases, and bringing petroleum to market. Uncertainty about the ability
to develop a lease prevents allocation of capital for development. Potential
lessees usually operate from a position of ignorance about what to expect on
a lease in terms of cultural resources. Providing lessees with some forecast
about the likelihood of archaeological features of regulatory significance could
help avoid useless leasing and delays in petroleum resource development. This
project provides a streamlined approach in which current information and forecasts
of archaeological resources generated by a model are combined in a rational
lease package offering evaluation criteria.
The project scope covers two project areas in New Mexico and Wyoming. The basic
work strategy is to collect information and automate it into existing professional
records systems in each state. The information is used to assess management
practices in the past. This leads to recommendations for new management procedures
and practices. At the same time, models of landscape sensitivity and archaeological
resource sensitivity are created as planning tools. Automating the results of
the actions described here leads to a suite of information management and decision
support tools. A single work phase, covering two areas, is planned. The tasks
to be accomplished follow logical, partly parallel sequences in both areas.
Current Status (July 2005)
The project is in its final year.
Project Start: September 30, 2002
Project End: December 31, 2005
DOE Contribution: $1,416,121 (79% of total)
Performer Contribution: $376,872 (21% of total)
NETL - John Ford (firstname.lastname@example.org or 918-699-2061)
Gnomon Inc. - Eric Ingbar (email@example.com or 775-885-2305)
Web-accessible GIS map of cultural resources within an area being examined
for oil and gas development.
Examples web accessible GIS map of cultural resources within an area being
examined for oil and gas development.