Dry Hollow deals with EnCana upfront | PostIndependent.com

Dry Hollow deals with EnCana upfront

Lynn Burton
Staff Writer

Property owners south of Silt say they are taking a new approach in dealing with oil and gas exploration company EnCana.

Rather than squawking about exploration access issues after operations are underway, Nancy Jacobsen and her neighbors are calling for a place at the table right now.

“We’re not saying they can’t come get their minerals,” Jacobsen said. “But we’re asking them to please set a place at the table for us. We’re trying to get some agreements up front.”

One of the biggest issues, Jacobsen said, is EnCana’s plan to use a private road through her and neighbors’ property to access the 160-acre Schwartz tract targeted for natural gas drilling.

Jacobsen said the two-mile road is narrow and twisty in places, and not suitable for heavy truck traffic required to drill and service natural gas wells.

EnCana spokesman Scott Ranson said his company has a right to use the private road, in part because the company owns mineral rights underneath it.

A letter from EnCana to Jacobsen and eight other property owners on the unnamed private road, dated Dec. 11, said drilling will commence “on or about” Jan. 15, 2003.

The letter also lists planned road improvements, including upgrading gravel, replacing a cattle guard, installing culverts, controlling dust and repairing the road after drilling is complete.

EnCana will build a new stretch of road to the Schwartz tract.

“In the event that it is necessary to construct new roadway across your surface, you will be compensated for actual damages,” EnCana told landowners.

Jacobsen counters, “They want to realign the road. We would be opposed to that, but we’re waiting for that to come.”

Jacobsen and her neighbors live on parcels of 47 to 260 acres, six miles south of Silt off County Road 331.

Their private road takes off from County Road 331, Dry Hollow Road, and is 18 feet wide for about a mile, Jacobsen said. After that, the road turns right at a 90 degree angle, heads down a ravine, narrows and takes a hard left.

Jacobsen said where the road ends at the Schwartz property, where the drilling will take place, it’s little more than a Jeep trail.

“This is a health and public safety issue,” Jacobsen said. “This is a private road used by nine families. At two points you can’t see oncoming traffic. We can live with agricultural and residential use, but with the topography, this road can’t handle industrial traffic.”

EnCana owns extensive mineral rights in the Silt area, including the Schwartz tract.

Jacobsen said she and her neighbors have retained Aspen attorney Tom Smith to act on their behalf. They have come up with 29 issues, Jacobsen said, but she declined to discuss them.

Other Silt area residents have argued with EnCana since gas drilling picked up several years ago. Earlier this year, EnCana agreed to build an alternate road to Grass Mesa south of Silt as part of a settlement with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

EnCana is a multi-national company with offices in Denver, and headquarters in Canada.

Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext 534


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