Well fracturing prohibition sought near Silt | PostIndependent.com

Well fracturing prohibition sought near Silt

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

SILT, Colorado ” Lisa Bracken is asking Garfield County and the state to immediately prohibit hydraulic fracturing in the East Mamm Creek area south of Silt.

County commissioners voted last month to ask the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to reinstate a natural gas drilling moratorium there. The moratorium was imposed when natural gas from drilling leaked to the surface waters in 2004.

The county hired geology professor Geoffrey Thyne to investigate Bracken’s concerns and is awaiting his report before sending a formal request to the COGCC. But Bracken and neighbor Jim Eubanks are alarmed that EnCana Oil and Gas is preparing to do fracturing.

Bracken said fracturing could change existing conditions and hinder Thyne’s investigation. She worries stopping midway through the fracturing process could be dangerous if the moratorium gets reinstated. She said EnCana has increased the pace of its activities in a plan to develop about 20 wells on a pad near her home.

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“They’re rushing along evidently in anticipation of a less than favorable result after the COGCC hearing,” she said.

EnCana spokesman Doug Hock said, “That’s just not the case. It’s really quite the opposite. We’re being very deliberate about it because there’s no incentive for us to go quickly given where natural gas prices are right now.”

Hock said EnCana finished drilling the last well on a nine-well pad called “F11E” on Feb. 4. Normally, he said, fracturing would begin within a few weeks but it still hasn’t started yet. On another nearby pad called “O1E,” he said, no fracturing is scheduled until the beginning of June.

In January, an EnCana well in the area experienced a “kick” of high gas pressure and water flowed from the well. EnCana said the leak occurred hundreds of feet below the drinking water aquifer. Bracken and Eubanks worry drilling operations could contaminate drinking water.

“We’re just on the war path over here because they won’t slow down, they won’t listen to us,” Eubanks said.

The COGCC tested Bracken’s property last year and found no evidence of a problem. Bracken contends the county and the COGCC haven’t done enough to address health and safety issues related to drilling in the area.

“While citizen concerns should certainly be addressed, any request for a moratorium has to be based on scientific evidence,” Hock said, “Repeated testing by both the oil and gas commission and third party labs has found no evidence that drilling activity is impacting ground water.”

He said EnCana continues to try to address Bracken’s and Eubanks’ concerns.

Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121


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