Number of drilling permit applications is as high as ever |

Number of drilling permit applications is as high as ever

PHILLIP YATESPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

RIFLE The prospect of new rules for oil and gas industry hasnt seemed to diminish the rush for drilling permits in Colorado.Dave Neslin, acting director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, said the number of drilling permit applications for the first two months this year is up 50 percent compared to the same two months in 2007.Certainly there is nothing to suggest that development or planned development has diminished, Neslin said at the Northwest Colorado Oil and Gas Forum meeting in Rifle on Thursday.Neslin said the surge in the applications is probably not an attempt by the industry to secure more permits in advance of rules the COGCC is now drafting for the oil and gas industry. Two of the largest natural gas companies in Garfield County previously have said they havent tried to get more permits in advance of the new rules.Neslin cautioned it was hard to read anything into the drilling permit numbers for the first two months of the year because it is a pretty small sampling.For the first two months of 2008, the COGCC has approved 418 drilling permits for Garfield County. Those 418 permits accounted for 44 percent of all drilling permits issued in the state for the first two months of the year.The COGCC approved 2,550 drilling permits in the county in 2007 and expects to issue about 3,200 permits in 2008, according to the agencys projections. David Boyd, a spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management, told the dozens of people at the oil and gas meeting that the agencys field offices have issued 166 drilling permits since Oct. 1. The BLM expects to issue about 800 permits this fiscal year.Of all the drilling permits in Garfield and Mesa Counties, 14 percent of the permits were for federal mineral leases, while the remaining 86 percent were for private leases, Boyd said. The state received about $123 million from federal mineral sharing revenue in the federal governments 2007 fiscal year.Other updates at the meeting included: Therese Pilonetti, program manager for institutional environmental health programs for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, gave a presentation about the states regulations on temporary housing facilities, which can include man camps at area gas rigs to house workers. She said the state is working on updating the states labor camp regulations, which havent been updated since 1968.These facilities allow you to do your jobs and keep our communities safe, Pilonetti said. We just want them to be safe for the occupants and the community they are located in. Jamie Adkins, northwest area engineering supervisor for the COGCC, said agency staff are now working out of an office in Rifle, but added that staff does not yet have access to land line phones. However, staff members are using their cell phones and are at the office five days a week, Adkins said. The Rifle office address is 707 Wapiti Court, Suite 204.Contact Phillip Yates:

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