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Anadarko to Win U.S. Approval on Utah Natural Gas Project

Anadarko Petroleum Corp.’s $10 billion natural-gas project in Utah’s Greater Natural Buttes area is poised to win U.S. Interior Department approval tomorrow, according to an environmentalist.

Anadarko, which plans about 3,500 wells, agreed not to drill on certain wilderness-quality lands, Steve Bloch, energy program director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, which was involved in talks with the government and company, said today in a telephone interview.

Greater Natural Buttes is among five fields that Anadarko, has targeted to boost production of petroleum liquids, which are more valuable than natural gas, Chief Executive Officer James Hackett said on a May 1 conference call.

The agreement would let Anadarko, the second-largest U.S. independent oil and natural-gas producer by market value, expand into areas that were previously undrilled, John Christiansen, an Anadarko spokesman, said. The company will invest as much as $10 billion and could employ 2,900 people at peak construction, Christiansen said today in a telephone interview.

The company, which operates 2,200 wells in the area, drilled 288 in 2011 and plans to add at least 400 wells a year through 2014, spending about $1.4 million on each, according to the company’s presentation and 2011 annual report.

Obama Pledge

President Barack Obama has pledged to increase gas production while limiting the impact on the environment. The Interior Department last week unveiled plans to regulate hydraulic fracturing by requiring companies to list chemicals used in the liquid mix forced underground to break up shale and free trapped gas. The standards also require operators to confirm that wells meet appropriate construction standards, and have plans to manage the water after fracturing is completed.

Anadarko will recycle 80 percent of the water that flows back and will install equipment to reduce the amount of air pollution released at drill sites, Christiansen said.

Anadarko and the Interior Department agreed on a plan to reduce air emissions for the Greater Natural Buttes field last year. ConocoPhillips is the largest independent oil and gas producer.

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