(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Tuesday approved a major natural gas project in Utah's Uinta Basin that could develop more than 3,600 new wells over the next decade, while safeguarding air quality and assuring the protection of critical wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation values, the White House announced.
The project will support up to 4, 300 jobs during development, the announcement said.
By signing the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Greater Natural Buttes Project, proposed by Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Salazar approved up to 3,675 new gas wells in an existing gas-producing area in Uintah County, Utah.
The decision follows a landmark comprehensive public consultation and conservation stakeholder involvement effort that resulted in a balanced approach to energy production and environmental protection that will boost America's energy economy, the announcement said.
The project encompasses approximately 163,000 acres, but will bring new surface disturbance to just 5 percent of that area, or approximately 8,100 acres, as a result of the 1,484 well pads approved in the ROD, which would be drilled over a period of 10 years.
"Today's announcement is part of the Obama administration's commitment to developing America's abundant natural gas resources in a way that can help fuel our economy and, according to independent estimates, support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade," the White House said.
In 2011, US natural gas production grew by more than seven percent, the largest year-over-year volumetric increase in history, and easily eclipsed the previous production record set in 1973, the announcement noted. Similarly, in 2011 domestic oil production reached its highest level in eight years, with foreign oil imports continuing to decline, it said.