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Environment | Energy

Washington Gas Drilling: No Wells, Faint Interest

Natural gas exploration companies have been slow to invest in Washington State, where the energy resource occurs in both sandstone and coal-bed reservoirs.

Currently, the state is reviewing one gas drilling permit application in Grays Harbor County, submitted by St. Helens Energy, LLC, a subsidiary of Colorado-based Comet Ridge USA, Inc.

The drilling site is located on Weyerhaeuser-owned forest lands above a sandstone subsurface, with many streams in the valley bottoms, according to the application.

Like western Idaho’s wells, the site in Washington might require some hydraulic fracturing, says Dave Norman, the state’s geologist and oil & gas supervisor.

The company would have to follow the state’s rules, which were last were updated in 1988, before the technique of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, allowed energy companies to reach vast reserves of natural gas.

More in This Report

  • An overview of Northwest gas drilling, with video, audio, photos and an interactive map.

  • A closer look at gas well activity in Idaho and Oregon.

In 2006, the state’s Oil and Gas Work Group completed a legislatively-mandated study of gas and oil laws and found that Washington lacked funding for the regulatory program and regulations for gas storage and coal bed methane.

The study was issued at about the time St. Helens Energy had partnered with Cascadia Energy Corp. to begin gas exploration in Washington. The now-defunct Cascadia Energy had leased more than 130,000 acres in Washington’s Cowlitz and Lewis counties.

The last active gas well in the state ceased operation in 1962.

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