Company outlines Garfield Creek drilling plans for ’09 |

Company outlines Garfield Creek drilling plans for ’09

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

NEW CASTLE, Colorado ” Denver-based Orion Energy Partners plans to drill six wells in the Garfield Creek State Wildlife Area next year, company representatives said Tuesday night.

And If those wells are successful, Orion plans to drill many more wells from four well pads it is planning to have in the wildlife area.

The company outlined its drilling plans in the habitat during a Colorado Division of Wildlife-organized community meeting Tuesday night about ongoing energy development in the area. The DOW cannot prevent drilling in the 13,160-acre wildlife habitat because it does not own the mineral rights below the surface.

The DOW is currently working with Orion to develop surface-use agreements for Orion’s energy development in the wildlife area, said Ron Velarde, northwest regional manager for the DOW. Those agreements would call for significant wildlife and reclamation requirements, he said.

“Our goal is to maintain the integrity of the state wildlife area,” said Velarde, adding the “collaborative spirit” with Orion “couldn’t be better.”

Doug Harris, vice president of operations for Orion Energy Partners, said the company plans to drill two wells from a well pad that will be located southeast from where the company drilled an exploratory well this summer. That well produced commercial levels of natural gas and led the company to seek three more well pads in the area.

The second additional well pad Orion is planning will be located to the west and four wells are slated to be drilled there, Harris said.

The third additional well pad is expected to be located between the company’s exploratory well and its well pad located furthest to the east. However, the company is not planning to drill any wells there next year.

The intent behind Orion’s wells is to determine the extent of the natural gas field in the area, Harris said. The company’s proposed wellpads are located at DOW-selected sites close to County Road 312, which winds through the area.

“If these six wells are successful, we will follow-up and drill off of each of these pads,” Harris said. “We would utilize directional drilling to drill as many wells as possible off those pads to cover the acreage surrounding those pads.”

Harris said there is a possibility that Orion’s well pads could possibly allow the company to access mineral parcels held by other companies below the wildlife area.

That could help to reduce surface disturbances in the area, Harris said.

Dejour Energy USA is contemplating drilling in the Garfield Creek State Wildlife Area.

But unlike Orion, which is currently drilling private mineral rights, Dejour plans to access federal minerals it controls below the wildlife area. No Dejour Energy representatives were present at the Tuesday community meeting about drilling in the wildlife area.

A lease the Dejour holds in the area, which the Bureau of Land Management issued in 2001, does not contain a required no-surface occupancy stipulation. That stipulation requires companies to drill from other locations to reduce surface disturbances.

The BLM is currently working with Dejour about the lease problem, said David Boyd, a spokesman for the agency. Representatives with Dejour are expected to meet with DOW officials today about their plans for drilling in the wildlife area.

Velarde said no other company has approached the DOW about drilling in the wildlife area.

Several people expressed worries to Orion and DOW officials about the company’s drilling in the habitat during the community meeting. Those concerns included possible impacts to area water quality from ongoing drilling.

Jeff Johnson, a Grand Junction resident and a former Rifle sporting-good store owner, said the Garfield Creek State Wildlife Area is the premier wintering range for deer and elk in the area.

“It would be a sad day if massive drilling takes place (there),” he said.

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