ELKO — For Noble Energy Inc. Elko County’s Huntington Valley is a top prospect for oil — but full production could still be a decade away.
The last few years, the company has been focusing on three spots in northeastern Nevada for exploration with the hope of finding oil: Mary’s River, Huntington Valley and Starr Valley areas.
“It’s got a real potential out here and we’re really excited to be here,” Kevin Vorhaben, Noble Energy business unit manager, said Tuesday night during a public scoping meeting for the Huntington Valley project hosted by the Bureau of Land Management Elko District.
Noble recently finished 3-D seismic surveying around Huntington Valley and is planning to drill a few wells once the BLM has signed off on an environmental assessment.
In the Mary’s River region, the oil company is also working with the agency for an OK to drill a few exploration wells. The third location, near Starr Valley, is entirely on private land and Noble already has one well drilled with a second to be completed soon.
If exploration drilling proves to be successful, Noble will begin development, which could require additional analysis from the federal agency for multiple drilling sites but could also result in the production of 50,000 barrels of oil per day.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Noble representatives told the public that it aimed to minimize the impact.
Initially, the approximately 7-acre drill pads will require a rig and other drilling equipment, a man camp, tankers and enough room for trucks to loop around without having to back out.
“After we finish drilling our well, which could be 60 days … this drilling rig packs up and leaves, the whole thing. It completely disappears and you’re left with … a few tanks, maybe a pump and a well head,” Vorhaben said. “That’s all you’ll be left with at the pad location.”
Vorhaben said Noble is conscientious of protecting water and wildlife.
To keep dust disturbance down, Vorhaben said truck drivers are instructed to travel slowly.
The Nevada Division of Minerals is in charge of checking Noble’s drills to ensure everything is in compliance — including wells on private land, Vorhaben said.
In attendance Tuesday, a few residents curious about the projects listened, one of whom asked about the process of hydraulic fracking, which the company plans to use to extract oil.
Fracking is the method of cracking shale with a high pressure solution of primarily water and sand so oil can escape through the rock to be pumped.
BLM Tuscarora Field Manager Rich Adams acknowledged that fracking carries with it some concerns, and he said those would be addressed in the environmental assessment. BLM staff encouraged residents who have concerns about fracking to let the BLM know during the scoping period.
Many other attendees were business representatives looking to forge a relationship with the $20 billion oil company.
Scoping will continue through Dec. 13.
“For us, comments that the public provides helps drive the analysis and environmental assessment,” Rich Adams said. “If you have a feeling or a concern about something, please provide that comment.”
Residents can submit comments online at www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/elko_field_office.html.