Antero seeking to reduce residential impacts of drilling
RIFLE – From turning down the music to keeping down the dust, Antero Resources officials say they’re trying to deal with the residential impacts of their natural gas drilling in the Silt and Rifle areas.The company is working on about its 13th well since beginning to drill locally, Antero vice president of production Terry Dobkins told area residents at a public meeting in Rifle on Wednesday.Some of that drilling is affecting residents the way people have been affected elsewhere in western Garfield County, creating noise, traffic, light and dust impacts.”I don’t know that we can fix everything but we will do the best we can,” Dobkins said.Some of the fixes have been easy, such as asking drill workers to turn down music being played during their shifts. But cutting down on the noise of the drilling itself isn’t so simple. Antero is looking into installing sound barriers to help reduce the decibel level for neighbors such as Lee Estes, who lives along Highway 6 east of Rifle.Estes said in an interview that a drill rig near his home “caused us enormous problems for over 60 days, 24-7. It never quit.”Dobkins said Antero uses watering trucks to try to keep down the kind of dust problems Estes cited at Wednesday’s meeting. It also does reseeding of disturbed areas, weed control, and traffic control when drill rigs are moved. But he said some impacts, such as the smell of diesel when trucks are servicing a well during fracturing operations used to stimulate gas production, are hard to avoid.Estes credited Antero for trying to respond to his concerns.”I think they’re about as good a drilling company as any you can find in terms of working with the people,” he said.He also acknowledged the limits to what Antero can do in limiting things such as noise.”A drilling rig is a drilling rig and you can only quiet them so much,” he said.Estes said his quality of life is being impacted not just by drilling, but by increased gravel mining and highway and train traffic.”It’s a tough situation to live where I do anymore, it surely is,” he said.Estes has one thing going for him that residents living in much of Garfield County’s drilling country do not. Antero has agreed to drill under the guidelines of a community development plan negotiated with a board representing residents from Rifle to New Castle. The plan is the first of its kind in the county, and is aimed at reducing conflicts between property owners and drilling operators.A plan organizer and board member, Liz Lippett, said she is happy with Antero’s efforts in cooperating with residents, and specifically trying to work with Estes.”And they’re going to keep looking for more solutions for him,” she said.She believes she and other board members can play a role in such situations because of the relationship they have built up with Antero.As part of the plan, Antero has agreed to give residents regular updates on its drilling plans. Dobkins told about 40 residents Wednesday that the results of drilling in the Valley Farms area near Silt have been very encouraging, and the results along the Colorado River between Silt and Rifle have been more mixed. The company plans to drill a test well closer to Rifle, and also soon drill its first well north of Highway 6.Dobkins continues to believe that Antero is unlikely to drill any closer than about two miles from the Grand Hogback north of Silt. But he also continues to qualify that by saying that things such as improvements in technology could change Antero’s plans in the future.Antero has been working on installing pipelines for its wells. The work requires boring tunnels beneath Interstate 70 and the Colorado River.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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