Gas industry braces for the new COGCC rules
Colorado is drafting new rules for the oil and gas industry. And some of the proposed changes have created considerable worries for energy companies in the state.Some of the contentious proposed tweaks include requiring companies to provide the state with an inventory of chemicals used or released at a drilling site and possibly giving adjacent landowners within 500 feet of a well standing to request a hearing. The proposed Form 34 permitting process, however, has drawn some of the loudest protests from industry groups and companies. They have said the new permit could create delays of months.The Form 34 permit would enable the COGCC to review and address effects of ancillary oil and gas facilities, along with focusing the involvement of the Colorado Division of Wildlife and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on proposed wells, according to the rules. The Form 34 permit requirement would apply to all oil and gas activities occurring on state, federal or fee lands in Colorado, the rules state. Companies, however, would still need to file an application for a permit to drill. Because the COGCC review of permits would be limited to issues like engineering and safety, permit approval should be substantially streamlined and expedited, according to the draft rules.We have estimated that going through that process, and this is without any appeals, it will delay the process between 112 and 160 days, said Doug Hock, a spokesman for EnCana Oil & Gas (USA), one of the biggest gas companies working in Garfield County. The biggest thing for us is that it creates a lot of uncertainty.
Dave Neslin, acting director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, said the agency is working with industry groups to address their concerns over the proposed rules.The COGCC is currently conducting several stakeholder work group meetings, which have met weekly, to gather their input on the new rules, Neslin said. People at that those meetings have included representatives from the oil and gas industry, members of environmental organizations and local governments. Neslin said the industry makes up at least half, if not two-thirds, of the participants at most of the stakeholder meetings.It is an opportunity for a very detailed discussion and dialogue of the nuances and specifics of this proposal, Neslin. These are substantial meetings. The groups are meeting for four hours at time.Hock said the heavy industry representation at the stakeholder meetings shows that there is a level of anxiety and a level of concern about the outcome of the rule-making process.We are hopeful that process will provide a good end product, but that remains to be seen, Hock said. When the process is complete here in a few weeks, we will see where we are at. We reserve judgment till that time.
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