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Gas companies arent dashing for permits despite impending bills

Phillip YatesPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS Two gas companies with large operations in Garfield County say they are not rushing to apply for gas drilling permits ahead of new oil and gas regulations being drafted by the state. Those new regulations are expected to be approved by July 1.Doug Hock, a spokesman for EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) said the company is not moving faster to get more drilling permits approved before the new rules are finalized.Really, in terms of how we are looking at it, it really is the long term, Hock said.Rather than trying to obtain more permits, the company is more focused on how it will align its capital in Colorado in the future, Hock said.We operate in three states, Texas, Wyoming and Colorado. In both Texas and Wyoming, we have increased the amount of capital we are spending, Hock said. In Colorado, we are flat to lower in terms of how much money we are spending.Hock said that can be attributed to what the company feels is a very uncertain regulatory climate in Colorado.Given that, we are not spending as much money here as we have in the past, Hock said.Susan Alvillar, a spokeswoman for Williams Production RMT, also said the company has not increased its drilling permit applications to the COGCC based on the drafting of new rules.We look out about three years in advance for our planning purposes, Alvillar said. We have 26 rigs working. It is really important that we have our permit applications in, and we know where those rigs will be working in the future.The COGCC, in late November, issued its initial proposal for rules the agency may implement as it moves forward with implementing House bills 1298 and 1341. The 2007 legislation expanded the focus of the COGCC to consider public health and wildlife impacts and require use of best management practices to minimize harm from oil-and-gas development. The COGCC expects to issue a draft of the new rules in March.The energy industry has been critical of the new rules being drafted by the state, saying the rules could create permitting delays of several months and causes uncertainty to their business operations in the state. This week a group of 11 state representatives and senators sent a letter to Gov. Bill Ritter criticizing the proposed rules, saying they could cripple the energy industry in Colorado. The letter was signed by nine Republicans and two Democrats.In response, Harris Sherman, executive director of the state Department of Natural resources, told legislators on Wednesday that many of the new requirements could be met simultaneously and could actually reduce the time required to apply for drilling permits.I believe the commission is acting in a very balanced way, Sherman told lawmakers.A rush of gas permit applications?Tricia Beaver, a spokeswoman for the COGCC, also said that the agency has not seen any more applications for permits to drill (APDs) being filed than the agency typically sees at this time of the year. I think it is pretty typical to see an influx of APDs this time of the year in general, Beaver said.Beaver said there is a backlog of APDs within the COGCC of about 1,100 permits, which are in various stages of being reviewed and processed.Contact Phillip Yates: 384-9117pyates@postindependent.com


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