WPX Energy plans to seek an amendment to its city of Rifle Beaver Creek watershed permit that could allow them to build up to seven new natural gas wellpads between now and 2018, Rifle City Council members learned Wednesday night.
At a workshop meeting, WPX officials outlined the history of the 12-square-mile, 8,000-acre watershed area, which is the source of 9 percent of Rifle’s drinking water. The vast majority of the city’s water comes from the Colorado River.
Several years ago, the city established a watershed district in the Beaver Creek area and considers permits for certain industrial activities to help protect the water source.
WPX spokeswoman Susan Alvillar said the company expects to release its 2014 operational plans within the next few weeks, followed sometime afterwards with a request to amend the permit. Maps presented to the council showed the seven new well pads could be located within and near the watershed district boundaries.
Jason Raley, a regulatory specialist with WPX, said the first gas wells in the district — nine miles southwest of Rifle — were drilled in 1999, but that since 2009, only 13 out of a planned 53 new wells had been drilled by the company.