Ursa updates show Phase I nearing completion | PostIndependent.com

Ursa updates show Phase I nearing completion

While construction and monitoring of two approved well pads within Battlement Mesa Planned Unit Development continue, Ursa Resources hopes to begin completions later this year.

The company updated Garfield County commissioners on operations within the unincorporated community's residential boundaries earlier in July. According to the Ursa report, no completions activity will occur in the next three months for Phase I development.

Ursa has already drilled half of 28 planned wells at the BMC D pad. It will drill 24 at the BMC B pad. Both pads are located off River Bluff Road, near the Battlement Mesa Water Treatment facility. Once the wells are drilled, Ursa can begin completions and production and move forward with Phase II.

"We are beginning the process with permitting and that takes time, but we'd like to get started on Phase II in 2018," said Don Simpson, Ursa vice president of business development. "Two hundred total wells are needed to drill the PUD area under lease to Ursa. In addition, we have another 99 planned in the area under lease to Ursa and surrounding the PUD."

Of the 299 total wells Ursa has in the area to date, 185 have already been drilled, approximately 62 percent of the total wells planned.

Most of the wells are being drilled from pads outside the PUD, according to Simpson.

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"If approved and drilled as planned, 107 wells, or 36 percent of the total wells in the area, will be drilled from four pads within the PUD," he added.

Over the past several months, Ursa has worked with many nearby land and homeowners to ensure that Ursa is "a good neighbor and a good steward of the environment," said Ursa Field Land Manager John Doose, and it continues to try to mitigate its impact on the community. At the D pad, Ursa constructed a wall and planted landscaping around it to help reduce noise for those nearby.

"I've never put in landscaping with a wall at a pad before," Doose added. "I grew up in Glenwood and on Sunlight Mountain. I'm not going to let anyone do anything stupid to our land. We want to protect our environment here."

While it will be several more months until Phase I is completed, Ursa has already submitted Phase II to county and state.

"A lot of what we learned from Phase I, we were able to put in ahead of time for Phase II," Doose said.

costs and benefits

Oil and gas operations impact the lives of homeowners and affect the land they live on, but they also provide resources to the community.

Parachute Battlement Mesa Parks and Recreation District operates, maintains and provides services to the Grand Valley Recreation Center and Battlement Mesa Golf Course. In 2016, it received $1,968,343 in revenue through property taxes, of which Garfield County Assessor Jim Yellico estimated close to 70 percent came from oil and gas production.

"Oil and gas helps fund many things in Garfield County with millions of dollars going into things like the rec district," he said.

Oil and gas provided $60 million to Garfield County schools in 2015, Simpson said.

Local filmmaker Powersurge Productions recently released a documentary that highlights Battlement Concerned Citizens' efforts to minimize oil and gas activity in the area.

"We support the oil and gas industry and know the value it provides to the community," Betsy Leonard said in the film. "We know that the resource they bring out of the ground is important, but what we don't want is for them to drill next to our house."

Ursa Resources owns mineral rights under the 5,000-person community and last year won Garfield County and state approval to drill for natural gas inside the PUD. The film can be seen at https://vimeo.com/208824550.

Ursa will host a community meeting in Battlement Mesa Aug. 16 to discuss completing Phase I operations. The meeting will include an educational component on injection wells.

Also in its update, Ursa listed several complaints and incidents that have occurred during operations over the past year.

A reported seven barrels of processed drilling fluid were spilled May 24 as a tank was being moved off location at the BMC B pad access road. The report noted the spill was cleaned immediately using on-site equipment, and has been closed out with Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

Dwayne Knudson, senior environmental specialist with Ursa, said he works closely with the COGCC and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to ensure operations are up to regulations and standard.

There have been nine COGCC inspections in 2017 to date, all of which have been satisfactory with no corrective actions required.