Company with mineral leases on top of Roan Plateau wants to intervene in lawsuit | PostIndependent.com
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Company with mineral leases on top of Roan Plateau wants to intervene in lawsuit

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” A company that paid about $57 million to control 19 mineral parcels in the Roan Plateau Planning Area has filed a motion to intervene in a current lawsuit over the future of drilling in the area.

Vantage Energy, an Englewood-based company, wants to become a party to the court action because its “economic and legal interests might be impaired or impeded.”

The lawsuit over the Roan Plateau currently pits the Bureau of Land Management against 10 environmental groups. Vantage Energy gained control of about 34,000 acres on top the Roan Plateau in an Aug. 14 BLM lease sale.



The company said its interests would not be adequately protected by either the BLM or the environmental groups in the ongoing lawsuit, court records show.

“Intervention is thus appropriate,” the company stated in court documents filed last week.



The 10 environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the BLM about a month before it auctioned off 31 parcels encompassing about 54,600 acres of the Roan Plateau Planning Area, which is northwest of Rifle. No other company that acquired leases in the area has filed a similar motion to intervene in the case, court records available as of late Thursday show.

The environmental groups’ lawsuit argues that the BLM’s plan for natural gas development in the Roan Plateau Planning Area violates the National Environmental Policy Act, that its current plan should be invalidated and that the issuance of any leases for drilling in the area should be blocked. The federal government denied the lawsuit’s allegation in a response filed earlier this week.

Attorneys for Vantage said the litigation has the potential to significantly impair the company’s legal and economic interests. The company’s legal interests stem from its purchase of the 19 mineral leases ” leases that the environmental groups are seeking to cancel, according to the company’s court filing.

“A decision favorable to (the environmental groups) would destroy Vantage’s property interests,” the company’s motion to intervene said.

The company’s economic interests would also be impaired if the “environmental groups prevail in this action.”

“If the plaintiffs are successful in their challenge to the BLM lease sale, Vantage may be prevented from proposing or conducting oil and gas operations on the leases and capitalizing on its investment,” the company’s motion says.

Eighteen of the 19 leases that Vantage acquired in the Aug. 14 Roan Plateau lease sale are on top of the plateau.

Those leases carry a stipulation that just one single oil and gas operator conducts all natural gas operations on behalf of all lease-holders ” an arrangement the BLM calls a federal unit. Some bidders at the August lease sale said that stipulation was a factor that led them not to bid for the parcels Vantage acquired.

The BLM said the stipulation allows the agency to exert greater control over oil and gas development and eliminates unnecessary infrastructure, such as pipelines, according to the agency.

Roger Biemans, a former president of EnCana Oil and Gas (USA), and Tom Tyree, a former financial officer of Denver-based Bill Barrett Corp., founded Vantage Energy, according to the company’s website.

Mark Rothenberg, senior engineer and team leader for the Piceance Basin for the company, said it had a small presence in the basin ” which stretches across Garfield, Mesa and Rio Blanco counties ” before the Aug. 14 lease sale.

“We were excited to able to pick up these leases on the Roan Plateau,” Rothenberg said. “We will continue to look at opportunities inside and outside the Piceance Basin.”


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