New guide helps industry navigate Garfield County’s oil and gas rules |

New guide helps industry navigate Garfield County’s oil and gas rules

The newly published Navigation Guide to Oil & Gas Development Projects in Garfield County helps energy companies understand what's required of them beyond state regulations to conduct business in the county.

A new navigational guide published by Garfield County puts energy companies on the same page with the county regarding its rules and regulations for oil and gas development.

The just-published “Navigation Guide to Oil & Gas Development Projects” incorporates the county’s most recent land-use code changes related to the industry.

It also includes the county’s latest work to develop a conservation plan for the greater sage-grouse, which is being considered by federal land managers as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service weighs new protections for the bird.

“We are quite pleased with and proud of this guide in its current form, and believe it is our best effort yet,” Garfield County Community Development Director Fred Jarman said Monday in presenting the new publication to county commissioners.

The 20-page booklet updates previous iterations of the guide, but is the first to be professionally published, said Tamra Allen, planning manager for the county and the primary author of the new guide.

It primarily serves as a navigation guide for energy companies that may not have done business in Garfield County but are interested in doing so, and to bring companies that are currently operating in the county up to speed on the latest regulations.

The guide dates back to 2004-05 when there was a marked increase in natural gas drilling and production in the county. That led to a “communication gap” between operators that weren’t aware of what local regulations applied and county planners who didn’t fully understand the industry and its terminology, the guide points out.

“It was a sharp learning curve for us and anyone coming in new who hadn’t done business here before,” Jarman said.

The guide explains which aspects of the industry, such as drilling permits, well pad locations and hydraulic fracturing operations, are left up to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to regulate, and which facilities require some type of county review and permitting.

The latter generally includes compressor stations, pipelines, communications towers, injection wells, contractor’s yards, access roads, solid waste disposal, wastewater impoundments and employee housing.

“The guide is helpful for anyone coming in wanting to understand how we do business in relation to oil and gas,” Allen said, adding that it can also serve as a useful guide for the general public to understand oil and gas rules and regulations.

The guide is currently available in hard copy format at the Garfield County Community Development Department office in Glenwood Springs, and should be posted online on the county’s website later this month.

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