Ursa PUD plans not quite complete | PostIndependent.com

Ursa PUD plans not quite complete

Ursa Resources is making alterations to its application with Garfield County to drill inside the Battlement Mesa Planned Unit Development, which, assuming the changes meet standards, could put an expected date for initial public hearings sometime in September.

The oil and gas producer — which currently operates one of four active rigs in Garfield County, according to the website Community Counts — expects to submit the revised application in the next several weeks. Assuming that happens and the initial application is deemed complete, public hearing would likely happen in September or possibly early October, said Fred Jarman, director of Garfield County community development. The changes requested are nothing too substantial, as it is still early in the process, Jarman added.

Those changes are needed for Garfield County to deem the preliminary plans complete; a required step in the procedural process before the application becomes open for public review. The application covers phase one of Ursa's plans within the Battlement Mesa PUD. Phase one includes two pads totaling 53 wells, as well as a pipeline.

Efforts to extricate the natural gas within the PUD date back several decades, and have been met with concern from some residents.

Some of those concerns were voiced Monday at a public meeting that drew around 70 people — a mix of residents, regulators and oil and gas industry representatives — at the Grand Valley Fire Protection District firehouse in Battlement Mesa. The meeting was one in a series Ursa has scheduled in the lead up to public hearings on the application.

The intention, Rob Bleil, regulatory and environmental manager for Ursa, told the crowd, is to answer as many questions as possible before public review begins.

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Questions ranged from potential environmental impacts, to legal rights, to construction impacts and to the possible implications for property values.

In touching on broad aspects of the regulatory process, both with Garfield County and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, Bleil reassured residents that Ursa would follow all the rules and regulations throughout the process.

Noting that, in response to a question, there are other parts of the state that have oil and gas development in close proximity to high density zones, Bleil said he thought the long-term implications would be a net positive, however, he conceded there would be initial obstruction during the construction phase.

"We're not going to sugarcoat it and say there aren't going to be short-term impacts," he said, in likening the construction to building a highway and other infrastructure projects.

Citing a desire to provide a complete answer, not every question was addressed that evening, which noticeably agitated some in the crowd. Bleil assured them there would be several opportunities in the future to try and answer those questions.

When Ursa purchased the assets of Antero Resources in the Piceance Basin in 2012, there were 10 potential pads identified within the PUD. That number has since been reduced to five, John Doose, field land manager for Ursa, told the crowd.

To drill out the PUD, it would take approximately 197 wells. Of that number, 103 wells, including 48 already drilled, will be drilled from outside the PUD. "It shows we've really tried to drill outside the PUD," Doose said.

The next meeting hosted by Ursa will cover the construction phase. It is scheduled for Aug. 3 at the Grand Valley Fire Protection District firehouse.

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