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Chevron to expand drilling, gets approval for man camps

Dennis WebbGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. Chevron won approval for temporary worker housing Monday as part of its efforts to ramp up its drilling for natural gas north of DeBeque.The company, which owns about 40,000 acres in the DeBeque area, hopes that its program there can continue growing to the point that it ultimately drills thousands of wells.Garfield County commissioners on Monday approved permits for three man camps that will be able to house a total of 68 people.Commissioners also approved creation of a 2.6-million-gallon pond that will be filled by tanker trucks and help supply drilling operations until a longer-term source of water can be obtained. And they OK’d a temporary office that will house 20 supervisors until Chevron can build a permanent office.The facilities will be located in the area of County Road 311 some 20 miles north of DeBeque.Chevron’s land ownership north of DeBeque dates back probably as far as the 1940s, the company’s manager of government relations, Dan Johnson, said in an interview. Following promising results from an explorational drilling project in the Skinner Ridge gas field, it is shifting to a new phase that will last through 2009 and initially involve directionally drilling up to 22 wells each from four well pads.However, the company has identified 16 well pad sites in the area.”Chevron anticipates drilling (wells from) those and more,” Sally Cuffin, an environmental consultant assisting Chevron, told county commissioners.If its next phase proves successful, the company plans to go into full-scale production with the use of six to 10 drilling rigs for another 10 to 15 years. Johnson said that could result in a couple of thousand wells being drilled.He said Chevron’s land ownership will avoid problems other companies in the area have encountered in cases of split estates, in which landowners don’t own the underlying minerals that are being developed.Chevron is hoping the man camps can address other drilling-related issues. Garfield County recently approved a process for reviewing and permitting proposals for temporary housing for workers near drilling sites. The man camps are a response to a local shortage of affordable housing and a desire to reduce traffic and improve safety.Last month, EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) won county approval to operate up to 31 temporary facilities housing nearly 750 natural gas development workers north of Parachute.Chevron representatives on Monday said its man camps would eliminate the need for workers to commute from as far as Grand Junction.”We are looking at a way to minimize the effect of traffic. This is one small step in that direction,” Cuffin said.County commissioners approved the worker housing only after the permit was modified to include a prohibition against drug and alcohol use on the sites. Commissioner Trési Houpt noted that commissioners have had discussions with other companies as well about how to control possible substance abuse at man camps.”Any drug and alcohol limitations that you would add, Chevron would accept,” Chevron facilities engineer Tim Barrett told Houpt.Johnson said Chevron has a zero-tolerance workplace policy regarding possession of drugs, alcohol and firearms.Chevron also has indicated it would use bear-proof trash containers at the housing sites. The Colorado Division of Wildlife has raised concerns about bear problems at man camps where trash hasn’t been secured.Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119dwebb@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO


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