A high-profile wildcat is planned for Washington State by the U.S. unit of Calgary-based EnCana Corp. The operator's #1 Anderville Farms is staked in Section 6-14n-25e, Grant County, Washington, in the Columbia Basin. The basin is a true frontier province that extends across some 60,000 square miles of southeastern Washington, northeastern Oregon and northern Idaho. Only a handful of wells have penetrated the Columbia Basin's sedimentary section, which is capped by thousands of feet of Miocene flood basalts. Tertiary sediments of mainly fluvial and lacustrine origin occur below the basalts, but the thick volcanic cover and sparse well control make exploration of these rocks extremely challenging. EnCana's well is projected to a depth of 14,000 feet. Its location is five miles south-southwest of a notable well drilled by Shell Western E&P Inc. in 1984. The #1-9 BN, Section 9-15n-24e, was drilled to a total depth of 17,518 feet. The well encountered a dozen gas-bearing zones and was extensively tested. On a drillstem test of an interval in the Kittitas formation between 12,694-99 feet, it flowed 2.4 million cubic feet of gas and 134 barrels of water per day. Between 13,372-88 feet in the Roslyn formation, it flowed 3.1 million cubic feet of gas and six barrels of water per day. The well was part of a major exploration program mounted by Shell in the Columbia Basin between 1982 and 1989. In all, the company drilled six wells to depths between 5,604 and 17,518 feet. In addition to the #1-9 BN, Shell also recorded sustained gas flows at its #2-33 Yakima Minerals, Section 33-15n-19e, Kittitas County. A seventh, separate wildcat was drilled by Meridian in Kittitas County in 1989 in Section 35-20n-35e, to 12,584 feet. A drillstem test was run on that hole, but no test information is available. Interest in the Columbia Basin has been rising among other operators as well. Last year, Denver-based Piney Creek Land & Royalty Co. applied for a permit to reenter the #1-9 BN on behalf of Savant Resources LLC, also of Denver. Additionally, in a lease sale held by the Washington Department of Natural Resources last April, the state received bonus bids totaling more than $1.7 million. Of the 605 parcels offered in the sale, companies submitted bids on 602 tracts containing about 320,000 acres, reported IHS Energy. Denver-based Energy West Corp. bid $107 an acre for a 640-acre tract in Section 16-16n-24e and $103 per acre for a 640-acre tract in Section 13-14n-23e, both in Grant County near the Shell #1-9 BN test. In total, Energy West was high bidder on approximately 226,000 acres in the sale; Piney Creek submitted high bids on about 69,000 acres; and Savant Resources was high bidder on 24,000 acres. Furthermore, in a federal land sale held by the Oregon office of the Bureau of Land Management in September, Energy West picked up four parcels totaling 855 acres in Grant County. About 600 oil and gas wells have been drilled in Washington since the early 1900s, and some minor accumulations were discovered. Limited volumes of gas were produced from Bellingham Field, east of Ferndale in Whatcom County in the Puget Lowlands province; in Rattlesnake Hills Field, north of Richland in Benton County in the Columbia Basin; and in Ocean City Field, west of Hoquiam in Grays Harbor County in the Willapa Hills province. Oil and gas hasn't been produced in the state since 1962. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the seven significant tests drilled in the Columbia Basin between 1980-89 were sited on the crests of large anticlines in the Columbia River Basalt Group. Most of the wells that penetrated the basalts recorded gas shows at subcommercial rates. The USGS noted that there is a high probability of at least a few, and possibly many, small gas accumulations in the Columbia Basin's conventional gas play. The extent and quality of the potential reservoirs are the main concerns. However, its interpretation of subsurface data from wells indicates the presence of a basin-center gas accumulation. A thick, overpressured interval begins at depths between 8,300 and 12,700 feet in the Columbia Basin. Resources in this unconventional play could be quite large, similar to the basin-center accumulations in such well-known Rocky Mountain basins as the San Juan and Uinta-Piceance.