Energy company seeks to amend Garfield County zoning regs |

Energy company seeks to amend Garfield County zoning regs

Phillip Yates
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

PARACHUTE ” A company under investigation by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission for a 30,000-barrel spill northwest of Parachute is seeking approval for two drilling-related requests in the county.

Marathon Oil Co. is seeking to amend county zoning rules that will allow the company to build facilities on property away from state-regulated well pads to store and treat produced water generated from natural gas drilling, according to county documents.

The company is going that route because zoning regulations for the land where Marathon intends to build those facilities does not allow that particular use.

Scott Scheffler, a spokesman for Marathon, wrote in a statement that the zoning request is not “just for Marathon or for our land ” this would apply to all of the plateau resource land” on the mesa in the Garden Gulch area above Parachute. He added water from the proposed facilities “will be collected by a gathering pipeline in order to minimize the activity of water trucks.”

The COGCC is currently investigating Marathon for a 30,000-barrel ” or 1.2 million gallon ” release of water from a storage pit on Jan. 31 near Garden Gulch, which is northwest of Parachute. The COGCC, in an announcement of its investigation, said Marathon notified the agency of the release immediately.

Marathon has said a preliminary investigation of the water storage pit showed that an “impermeable high-density polymer liner experienced a seam failure, which allowed the water to escape the storage pit.” The cause of the liner’s failure remains unknown and further investigation is pending, according to the company.

The COGCC is also investigating Berry Petroleum for three releases from November to late January. The company allegedly did not report two releases of fluids from a reserve pit, according to a COGCC notice of alleged violation (NOAV). The complaint also alleged that the company failed to tell the landowner of the spills.

All four spills by the two companies occurred on land owned by Chevron, said Dan Johnson, a spokesman for the company.

Many residents and groups have stressed concerned about the spills might have on Parachute Creek, which is the source of irrigation water for some area ranchers and the town of Parachute.

Another project

Marathon is also seeking a conditional use permit for a “construction materials surface mine” that would allow the company to remove rock and gravel from a hillside for roads and pads serving the company’s natural gas exploration and production in the area, according to a county staff report.

“Utilization of on-site construction material (rock and gravel) reduces valley community truck traffic and may prevent a shortage of valley construction material,” Scheffler wrote. “This permit and planned operation are part of Marathon’s effort to minimize impact and activity in and around the community of Parachute.”

The mine site would be about 10 acres once fully mined and is part of a 334-acre parcel owned by Berry Petroleum, according to county records. The proposed mine site is about nine miles up Garden Gulch Road off County Road 215 ” or about 17 miles northwest of Parachute.

A COGCC investigation into Marathon would not “preclude the county from considering the company’s land use applications,” said Fred Jarman, Garfield County’s building and planning director.

The two issues will go before the Garfield County Commissioners for two separate public hearings on April 21 at 1:15 p.m. at the county’s administration building in Glenwood Springs, 108 Eighth Street.

Contact Phillip Yates: 384-9117

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