Up to 254 million barrels of oil and 18.16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas could be produced from a field in central Wyoming if a proposed drilling project is approved.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced Thursday that the proposed Moneta Divide Project will enter the public comment period Friday. Located mostly in Fremont County, the 327,645-acre field also includes portions of Sweetwater and Natrona counties.

According to a BLM statement, the project could generate up to $71 million per year in federal royalties, $57.6 million per year in state severance taxes and $70 million per year for Wyoming's counties.

Aethon Energy Management and Burlington Resources Oil and Gas Company submitted the proposal.

A combination of horizontal and vertical wells would be drilled under the proposal.

"It's definitely a large project in Wyoming," BLM Public Information Officer Brad Purdy told K2 Radio News on Thursday. "It's not an unheard of level of development. It's not insignificant by any means."

Up to 325 wells would be drilled each year over a 15-year period. Production is expected to last 65 years.

Purdy added that the public comment period is "a very important" time in the proposed project. It's the first of many steps, should the project be approved.

Three alternatives are listed in the environmental impact statement. The first simply assumes that the proposal is denied there would be no drilling.

Another alternative assumes all wells would be drilled vertically. The last alternative would increase the number of multiple wells drilled from a single location in order to add protective measures for the greater sage grouse.

The BLM has not decided which alternative to approve. A draft environmental impact statement is available here.

Before deciding upon a preferred alternative, the BLM will review public comments and consult with cooperating agencies before making a decision in the final environmental impact statement.

Purdy said public comment in projects of this nature is crucial. The 90-day public comment period begins Friday. The preferred commenting method is through the BLM's ePlanning website, but people can also email BLM_WY_LD_Moneta_Divide_EIS@blm.gov.

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