GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - Representatives of Texas-based Ursa Resources Group II LLC said Tuesday they intend to work with area residents and be good neighbors as they prepare to take over Antero Resources' operations in Garfield County."We're just here to let you know we're good people, and that we are going to operate in a responsible manner," Don Simpson, vice president of business development for Ursa, told Garfield County commissioners during their regular meeting.The introductory meeting with the commissioners, and another with the Battlement Mesa Oil & Gas Committee Tuesday afternoon, are part of the company's outreach efforts, Simpson said. Ursa announced late last week that it is planning to buy Antero Resources' operations in the Piceance Basin. The $325 million deal is scheduled to close in December.Denver-based Antero announced Nov. 5 that it was selling its assets in the region.Simpson gave an overview of Ursa Resources at Tuesday's meeting, explaining that the management team is made up mostly of former Shell employees. Investors in the privately held company include Denham Capital Management, he said.Ursa Resources Group II was formed last year and maintains holdings in several states. Its predecessor company, Ursa Resources LLC, sold its former oil and gas assets in the Bakken shale fields in North Dakota and Montana last year.The revamped company is continuing to explore and develop oil and gas, with a new focus on western Colorado, Simpson said.The Antero purchase will include more than 1,000 gas leases in the area, including in the Battlement Mesa area, several in the Silt area, as well as some leases on federal lands in the controversial Thompson Divide region southwest of Glenwood Springs.While Ursa intends to be more aggressive than Antero in developing leases in the area, the company also plans to be more proactive in dealing with residents and local governments, Simpson said.Silt resident Peggy Tibbetts encouraged the Ursa representatives to continue with regular Silt community meetings regarding the company's drilling plans. She also asked that the company work with the town of Silt to put an air quality monitoring station on town hall.County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky applauded Ursa's plans to keep Antero's Rifle field office open."That is important to us as far as jobs," Jankovsky said. "I would also ask that you use local, Garfield County contractors as much as possible. We would really appreciate that."
In another matter related to energy development that came up Tuesday, Commissioner Jankovsky said he would like the BOCC to formally protest the U.S. Department of Interior's plan for oil shale leasing, which was published late last week."There is a 30-day protest period, and I think we should weigh in with our thoughts," Jankovsky said.The plan reduced the amount of acreage to be made available in Colorado even more than was envisioned in the preferred alternative, from 35,000 acres to 26,000 acres."It's basically saying no oil shale development in Colorado," said Jankovsky. "I think we ought to fight this through the administrative, legislative and judicial process."The plan released Friday would authorize about 1,250 square miles of public land for commercial leasing in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. However, that's about a third of the range lands that the Bush administration had planned to offer under a 2008 plan.Garfield County commissioners have joined with other local elected officials from the three states in encouraging the federal government to stick with the 2008 firstname.lastname@example.org