EnCana energy expo draws a crowd | PostIndependent.com

EnCana energy expo draws a crowd

Less than an hour into EnCana’s “Energy Expo 2003,” the Garfield County Fairgrounds north and south exhibit halls were crowded, and Sher Long was trying to announce the day’s first raffle winner over the noise.”The winner gets a $75 gift certificate to Sammy’s,” shouted Long, the local EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) spokesperson. “The winner is two … five … eight, four … nine … eight.”A few feet away, Grass Mesa resident Fred Schultz looked at his ticket, stopped an animated conversation in mid-sentence, then leaned over a railing and shouted to Long, “Can you go up seven?””Stick around,” Long told Schultz, as she dispatched an assistant to spread the word of the winning ticket’s number. “The next winner gets a $75 gift certificate to the Elk Creek Mining Co.,” Long said as she returned her attention to the distracted crowd.EnCana, Garfield County’s most active drilling company in 2003, invited its contractors to bring equipment and displays, and to meet with the hundreds of property owners who are being affected by the heavy truck traffic, drilling noise, odors and other impacts the energy boom is bringing to western Garfield County.Inside the Fairgrounds exhibition halls, representatives from international companies such as Halliburton and Schlumberger eagerly explained directional drilling, fracing, logging, pipelines and the other operations it takes to suck natural gas out of the ground and propel it to market.Outside the halls, rank and file gas industry workers like Doug Kidd, 28, fielded questions about how his Slurry King cement truck works, and how he spends his spare time.”I’ve got a wife and two kids I like to spend time with,” said Kidd, a North Carolina native who lives in Grand Junction. “I try to keep my wife from shopping.”Kidd said he was working in Vernal, Utah, when he first hooked up with Schlumberger, and has been working the Mamm Creek field south of Silt since April. “It’s prettier here,” he said.

The Expo was scheduled to run from 3-8 p.m. Wednesday. A pair of free-standing, industrial fans hummed and kept the air below the hot grandstands moving. EnCana hired Cowboy and Rose Catering to serve up 32-ounce glasses of Pepsi and quarter-pound hamburgers. By 4:30 p.m., the benches between the two exhibition halls were full of older residents in cowboy hats or plain dresses who had taken EnCana up on its culinary offer.Fred Schultz, who has lived south of Silt on Grass Mesa for six years, came dressed for the occasion in cut-offs and T-shirt. He said EnCana’s predecessors were “bullies” in dealing with Grass Mesa residents, but EnCana is doing a better job.”It’s been nice,” he said.Schultz said it’s ironic that some of the same contractors and employees who worked for EnCana’s predecessors are still on the job, but policies have changed for the better, and so have some attitudes. “It shows that EnCana is trying to work with the public,” Schultz said.

Leslie Robinson cruised the exhibition halls with a bag full of gas industry handouts. As the executive director of Garfield County United Way, Robinson attended the Expo to introduce herself and to ask the companies to support United Way. Its fund-raising efforts support more than a dozen human services non-profits in the county.”I’m asking them to support the community through United Way,” said Robinson, who has lived in Garfield County since the 1970s. “They are having an impact on the county, so donating to United Way is a way to mitigate those impacts.”Robinson saw the oil shale boom and bust of the early 1980s, and said the natural gas boom is growing more gradually than oil shale. She is concerned about the environment after the natural gas fields play out.”I’m afraid we’ll be left holding the bag,” she said.Robinson is also concerned about gas development on the Roan Plateau, northwest of Rifle. “I hope the impacts are minimal, and the industry can do what they promise,” she said.

Doug Dennison, Garfield County’s oil and gas auditor, staffed the county’s booth with county manager Ed Green. Unlike other booths, with their professional maps and displays, Dennison’s table basically featured himself.”It looks like we’ve had a good turnout, a lot more than I anticipated,” Dennison said as he stood and surveyed the crowd, which included Grand Valley Citizens Alliance members Bob and Peggy Utesch, other “south of Silt” residents and Randy Udall, director of the Aspen-based Community Office of Resource Efficiency.Dennison said he heard positive comments about the Expo.The most frequently asked questions concerned directional drilling. “That’s a big one,” Dennison said.While Dennison was talking about directional drilling in the south exhibit hall, EnCana representative John Moran was doing the same thing in the north hall. The directional drilling method accommodates multiple wells on the same surface well pad, so drilling rigs and wells are clustered in one area.”New technology really helps in directional drilling,” Moran said. “Overall, we’re really happy with it.”Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534lburton@postindependent.com

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