Ursa makes good on $5.8M tax debt to Garfield County
Assets of bankrupt company now owned by Terra Energy
Former Garfield County natural gas operator Ursa Resources, which filed for bankruptcy last year, has paid the county $5.8 million in back property taxes for 2019 that had been in question given the company’s financial problems.
Garfield County Treasurer Carrie Couey said in a Monday press release that her office and the county attorney’s office worked throughout the fall to obtain the funds owed mostly to several local taxing districts, and to the county.
“Garfield County has continued to look out for the interests of its citizens,” Couey said in the release. “We are pleased that the efforts have come to fruition.”
Ursa filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Sept. 2, 2020, listing some $282.7 million in secured debt, and several million dollars in unsecured debt throughout its Piceance Basin operations in northwestern Colorado.
Taxing districts in Garfield County that were owed back taxes included the Garfield County Library District, the Garfield 16 School District, the Grand River Hospital District and the Grand Valley Fire District. Another $718,000 was owed to entities in Rio Blanco County.
Ursa was acquired by Terra Energy Partners in November of last year, after a bankruptcy court judge approved the sale.
“The payment may ease concerns expressed by western Garfield County taxing authorities running on already lean budgets,” the county press release states.
With the sale of the company, the 2020 taxes payable in 2021 are to be assumed by Terra Energy Partners, as outlined in the sale agreement made between Ursa and Terra, Couey said in the release.
Ursa had been a major oil and gas operator in Garfield County, including controversial wells within the unincorporated Battlement Mesa community that are now owned by Terra.
Drilling plans approved by the county in late 2015 were opposed by two citizen groups, primarily due to the proximity of well pads to homes, schools and other buildings and related impacts. New wells there and in other populated areas will now come under the state’s new 2,000-foot setback rule, one of several new regulations that were approved last year by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission as part of its implementation of SB 181.
At the time of its bankruptcy filing, Ursa owned 41,000 acres of oil and gas properties in western Colorado, and had 579 producing gas wells, according to the company’s bankruptcy court filings.
The company’s chief restructuring officer, Jami Chronister, indicated in the bankruptcy filing that any taxes owed would be given priority for payment to avoid property liens being passed onto the buyer.
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Garfield County is seeking to qualify its four west-end communities for Colorado’s Rural Jump Start program, providing tax breaks for new businesses.