Antero makes new request for increased well density |

Antero makes new request for increased well density

John Colson
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

SILT, Colorado – The bubbling controversy about gas wells on Silt Mesa, an unincorporated area to the north of town, just got a little more active.

Residents of Silt Mesa, already preparing to oppose plans by Antero Resources to quadruple the density of drilling in one part of their neighborhood, have learned that the company is working on similar plans for a second part of the area.

Earlier this year Antero applied to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) for permission to intensify its drilling activities on a 640-acre section of Silt Mesa.

Instead of the existing permitted well-density of “effectively” one well per 40 acres, as described in a Nov. 8 letter from the COGCC to Garfield County, the company wants to drill one well per 10 acres.

The Garfield County Board of County Commissioners is scheduled to intervene on behalf of Silt Mesa residents, following a COGCC meeting in Rifle on Oct. 21, at which numerous residents spoke out against the increase in well density.

The “10-acre density,” as it is known, does not mean there will be a gas rig popping up every 10 acres, but refers to “down-hole” well density. Because drilling technology now permits operators to drill multiple wells from a single well pad, the increased well density takes place below the ground.

Some residents of Silt Mesa and the surrounding area have been resisting Antero’s drilling plans over concerns about negative effects to the air and water quality in the area, and fears about heavy truck traffic on the small roads that serve the area.

The newest application involves roughly 500-600 acres of land in the Slaughter Gulch area, according to Silt Mesa resident Fiona Lloyd.

Lloyd reported in an e-mail that the land is on the north edge of Peach Valley and “will be accessed by the tiny weeny roads of Peach Valley and Slaughter Gulch.” Her report was confirmed by the county’s oil and gas liaison, Judy Jordan.

Slaughter Gulch, Lloyd explained, is “one of the only three access points to Public Lands between New Castle and this side of Rifle.”

She added that the Bureau of Land Management, which owns much of the land, was at one time working on designating the gulch as a “special management area … in recognition of the importance it has for local residents. It is very heavily used.”

But Lloyd said the group of residents working on the issue, who have been meeting to discuss tactics, are not likely to pursue formal intervention by Garfield County in the latest well-density application.

She indicated that there likely is not time for such an effort, since the issue is due for a COGCC hearing on Jan. 13-14.

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