Antero ‘down-spacing’ hearing set for late February
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
DENVER, Colorado – An upcoming hearing before the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission would not be the best time for Garfield County residents to make their stand against a proposed drilling operation, a COGCC official said on Thursday.
Instead, said the COGCC’s hearings manager, Carol Harmon, residents should wait until the state agency is considering an actual application to build well pads and drill wells.
The COGCC, during its monthly hearings on Feb. 22-23 in Denver, will consider applications by Antero Resources, a gas drilling company operating in Garfield County, to increase the allowable density of gas wells on two parcels of land.
The sites are located either inside or next to the Battlement Mesa Planned Unit Development (PUD), although there currently are no well pads or wells there.
The same company also has announced plans to build 10 well pads inside the PUD boundaries, from which Antero hopes to drill up to 200 wells.
The February hearings do not appear to be connected to the 10-pad plans.
The company’s plans have generated opposition among some residents, based on fears of negative environmental, health and public safety consequences for those living in the neighborhood. The controversy has heightened residents’ awareness of, and interest in, all of Antero’s drilling activities.
The Garfield County commissioners, thinking county residents might want to comment on the applications, recently directed its staff to file a formal notice of “intervention” concerning the Antero applications.
Garfield County attorney Don DeFord said on Thursday that the county will be requesting that the hearing on the Antero applications be continued until some date in the future, and that the resumed hearings be held at a location in Garfield County.
Known as a “down-spacing” application, Antero’s intent is to tighten the drilling density from one well per 320 acres currently in effect, to one well per 10 acres.
A third application, by the Dejour drilling company, also seeks a “down-spacing” permit, but for land in Garfield Creek south of New Castle. DeFord said the county is not intervening in the Dejour application.
Regarding the down-spacing applications in general, said Harmon, “The kind of information that is considered [at this type of hearing] is just about all geologic and engineering in nature.”
Well-spacing hearings are highly technical, she said, and generally have to do with “down-hole” issues, or issues relating to the well terminus far below the surface.
As for issues pertaining to surface matters, such as environmental concerns and public health and safety questions, those are dealt with in the hearings for permits to drill, she said.
“It’s just about impossible to address those [surface concerns] in an application to increase well density,” Harmon remarked.
COGCC Executive Director Dave Neslin stressed that approval of an increase in well density is not the same as approval of a permit to drill or to build a well pad.
Typically, Neslin said, well-density issues are handled prior to the application for a drilling permit, and Harmon confirmed that there has been no application to build a well pad connected with either of Antero’s well-density applications.
As for the upcoming hearings, Harmon said interested citizens can either file written comments by going to the COGCC website and clicking on the “Forms” button; arrange for a telephone conference to make comments to the board; or comment in person.
She encouraged interested citizens to contact the COGCC in advance for either a telephone conference or to make comments in person.
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