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County hires new oil and gas liaison

Special to the Post Independent/Bonnie Strong?
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Garfield County has a new oil and gas liaison. Tim Pinson made his county debut, so to speak, last Thursday at the Energy Advisory Board meeting in Rifle.Most recently from Denver, where he has been an oil industry consultant, Pinson gleaned a good deal of his experience working in the oil fields of the North Slope of Alaska. Fresh out of the University of Colorado in Boulder in 1974 with an environmental degree, he headed north to Alaska to work on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Completed in 1977, the 800-mile long conduit brings oil from Prudhoe Bay south to the ice-free port of Valdez. Since leaving Alaska in 1991, he has worked as vice president of an environmental consulting firm in Denver and then consulted on his own.The idea of the move to Denver – for Pinson, his wife, Helen, and three children, Nathan, Philip and Anastasia – “was to get out of Alaska and thaw out,” he said.

As the county’s newest oil and gas liaison, Pinson brings specific experience in planning and permitting major oil field projects, namely the Kuparuk field next to Prudhoe Bay.”We were fortunate to start out on virgin tundra and do it right,” he said. “On Prudhoe and (neighboring) Kuparuk (oil fields), we used the best available control technology for everything.”Drilling was conducted in winter, with roads and pipelines and drill pads constructed on the ice.”We minimized the footprint on the tundra,” Pinson said.Now, more than 20 years later, Prudhoe and Kuparuk are in decline and the state of Alaska is looking for a way to bring a significant natural gas resource in those two fields to the lower 48, that would likely involve another gigantic pipeline to an ice-free port or across Canada to the Midwest.Natural gas from those fields fueled the oil field compressors and other aspects of production.

“We were totally self-sufficient,” Pinson said. “It was a totally closed system.”With his familiarity with natural gas production, as well as his experience with federal and state permitting agencies, Pinson comes to Garfield County with a wealth of experience.After three days on the job – Pinson’s first day of work was last Thursday – he knows the challenges he faces.”I understand the issues, I know the rules and regulations,” he said. “It seems to me the job entails responding to and protecting the surface owners as much as we can. I guess my whole given … is to do our best to influence the producers to employ the best management practices and the best available control in doing their day-to-day business.”Most important is safety in oil and gas operations in the county.



“Nuisances are second, (such as) odor or noise. Speeding in residential areas – I’ve already gotten the calls – it’s got to stop.”Pinson is now living in Battlement Mesa, and his wife Helen will join him as soon as she can wrap up a family business in Denver. In fact, it wasn’t just the job that encouraged them to move here.”The area attracted us more than anything,” Pinson said.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 510dgray@postindependent.com


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