Gas firm fined $1,000, critic calls it `insulting’
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission fined the Canadian gas drilling company EnCana $1,000 on Monday for a September violation on Grass Mesa Road.
Oil and gas commission deputy director Brian Macke said the citation was issued after a heavy truck got stuck and blocked the road for several hours.
“It’s ridiculous,” said Cheri Chartier, property manager at Grass Mesa subdivision, south of the Garfield County Airport. “EnCana is a $30 billion company, receiving a $1,000 fine. It’s insulting.”
Macke said the company could have been fined a maximum of $1,000 per day, but the problem was corrected within 24 hours, and EnCana reported the problem itself.
“That’s a key point,” Macke said. “It’s a show of good faith when an operator reports violations.”
EnCana and its predecessor, Alberta Energy, have been exploring for natural gas and developing wells on Grass Mesa for two years. The Grass Mesa subdivision’s only access is a private road it shares with EnCana, which the company can legally use because it owns residential building lots in the subdivision.
EnCana and the state reached an agreement for EnCana’s use of the Grass Mesa Road earlier in the year, after a company exploration truck nearly ran an oil and gas commission staffer’s vehicle off the road.
Macke said the plan allows regular vehicles to use Grass Mesa Road, severely restricts larger trucks and completely bans tractor-trailer rigs. He said the type of truck that blocked the road in September is banned from the road.
The plan also called for EnCana to build an alternate road to Grass Mesa for large trucks, which was completed in November.
“That road cost $500,000,” Macke said.
EnCana spokesperson Florence Murphy declined to comment on the $1,000 fine. She did, however, say that two EnCana subcontractor employees have been fired this year for violating oil and gas regulations on Grass Mesa Road.
“We have a zero tolerance for any violation,” Murphy said. “I can’t reinforce that enough. We are trying to work closely with the residents of Grass Mesa to have a resolution on every violation.”
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Grace Wesseling is an animal lover, a cheerleader of seven years and another soon-to-be graduate of Bridges High School, class of 2021.