Antero’s new Italian rig begins drilling near Silt |

Antero’s new Italian rig begins drilling near Silt

Post Independent/Kara K. PearsonThe new Italian drilling rig being used by Antero Resources is said to be smaller and quieter. The rig is now at work near Silt.

A highly vaunted Italian drilling rig, touted by Antero Resources as a smaller, quieter, less invasive way to get gas out of the ground, is now at work near Silt.Terry Dobkins, vice president for production at Antero, told the Garfield County Commissioners Monday the rig is up and running. “We started drilling last Thursday,” he said. With a smaller footprint – 200 by 300 feet, about 1.3 acre – the rig will have a lower impact on the surface.”Hopefully, they’re more reliable than Italian cars,” quipped county oil and gas auditor Doug Dennison, at the commissioners meeting Monday.

The rig is a “closed loop” system, which keeps drilling fluids in metal tanks so there are no storage pits on the ground, Dobkins said. The new Italian rig is owned by Cheyenne Drilling Co. It is also mounted on a trailer so it’s easier to move than a conventional rig.Because the rig is fully hydraulic, it will be quieter in its operation, and only requires a crew of three, rather than the usual four men. Dobkins also laid out Antero’s drilling plans for this year to the county commissioners.Currently, the rig is working between Silt and Rifle, south of the Colorado River and north of Interstate 70, near the Grant Brothers’ gravel pit.Antero intends to drill four wells off two pads in the near future, Dobkins said. “We’ll review (the results) the first week in September. If the results are promising, Antero will drill 10 wells off four pads.”If the initial work proves the gas is profitable, Antero intends to drill 38 pads and up to 150 wells. The pads would be spaced over 40-acre blocks on the surface and 20-acre downhole spacing, Dobkins said.

Although EnCana drills at 10-acre downhole spacing, “We’re too early at this point to know if the project will support 10-acre spacing,” Dobkins said. “We believe we can get 32 wells on less than two acres (of a well pad). We believe we can drill up to 3,000 feet (horizontally) with this rig in this area.”The wells will drill to approximately 8,000 feet vertically.Antero also plans to drill wells on Valley View Farms south of Silt, site of the proposed Stillwater residential development.”We are acting as if Stillwater will go forward,” Dobkins said. The Stillwater project has been plagued with financing problems and although it has been on the planning books for some years has yet to break ground.”We spent six months planning how we will co-exist with (a subdivision),” he said.

Antero recently completed air-quality monitoring for baseline information, Dobkins said. The company will also test the air periodically during drilling operations and will monitor domestic water wells within a half mile of the gas wells.Dobkins estimated it will take 12-15 days to drill one well. A second rig could be in operation next spring, he said.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext.

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